Vietnam Veterans to Visit VHCC

vietnam veteran speakers group

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war in Vietnam, a group of local veterans will visit VHCC next week to share their wartime experiences and answer questions about life back in the states.

The event is being sponsored by the VHCC Student Veterans Association and will include Vietnam veterans from various branches of the U.S. military. Members of the group travel throughout the region to discuss their views on the war, the impact the war had on them and their families, and their reaction to protesting in America. Photos, videos and military memorabilia will be used to illustrate their talk.

The event is set for Thursday, March 19, at 2 p.m. in Keyser-Aday Theatre and open to all community members. For additional information, please contact Veterans Officer Debbie Barrett at (276) 739-2460.

Spelling Bee Was ‘Nerve-Racking,’ Winner Says

009 The words weren’t as difficult as Jamie Brown feared they might be, but the experience of competing in VHCC’s first annual Spelling Bee still was “nerve-racking” because all eyes in the Keyser-Aday Theatre were focused on her while she was at the microphone.

“I don’t even remember the word I won with,” she said. “That’s how nervous I was.”

Jamie was among several dozen students who participated in the VHCC Spelling Bee on January 29 in the hopes of winning bragging rights and a share of the cash that was available for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.  She ended the afternoon $250 dollars richer and glad she convinced a co-worker to fill in for her at Cracker Barrel.

“I found out about it through an email that was sent out,” she said. “I was supposed to work, but I got a friend to cover my shift. I figured I had the chance to make more money than I would at work that day.”

A resident of Sugar Grove, Jamie started a family soon after graduating from Marion High School. A few years ago while working at a job she didn’t like, she made the decision to enroll at VHCC. It was something she always wanted to do, she explained, but kept putting off.  She’ll graduate in May with an Associate of Arts & Sciences Degree in Education – Teacher Preparation, then it’s on to Radford University to complete her teaching degree.

“I really love the teachers here,” she said. “Every teacher here really cares. I hope that doesn’t change when I get to Radford.”

In addition to her full-time class load, Jamie works full time and is a single mother to a 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old twins.

“My kids have seen me work really hard to find time for everything,” she said. “I think they’ve learned a few things from that. I bet they go to college right after high school.”

Rhonda Hubbard won $150 for her 2nd-place finish in the Spelling Bee, and Heather Jeffreys won $100 for finishing in 3rd place.

Jennifer Pharr Davis to share lessons from the trail

JenniferPharrDavis Jennifer Pharr Davis, a world renowned hiker who has broken long-established speed records and learned important life lessons while hiking the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail, will share stories from the trail during two presentations on March 31 in Abingdon. She will speak at 2 p.m. at Virginia Highlands Community College and again that evening at 6 p.m. at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway. Both talks are free and open to the public.

A North Carolina native, Pharr Davis began her first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2005 at the age of 21. During that initial journey, she encountered a stalker, weathered a snow storm and was struck by lightning. She also discovered many things about herself and set important goals. She has completed two record-setting thru hikes since then, breaking the women’s speed record in 2008 with a 57-day hike and then the overall record in 2011 by completing the trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes.

The afternoon session in the Keyser-Aday Theatre at VHCC will focus on her first hike and how her outlook on many things changed during those months she spent hiking. That talk is entitled “The Trailblazer: Find Your Passion and Follow Your Heart.”

Her Heartwood appearance at 6 p.m. will focus on her 2011 hike and how she averaged 47 miles of hiking each day, battling shin splits and illness along the way, to break the overall record. That talk is entitled “The Extra Mile: Exploring the Limits of Endurance.”

Pharr Davis lives in Asheville, N.C., with her husband, Brew, and daughter, Charley. She is the owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Co. and the author of several hiking guides and memoirs that chronicle her time on the trail. Pharr Davis will be available to answer questions and sign copies of her books, which can be purchased following each event.


VHCC Students Visit Virginia Lawmakers

Group photo with Senator Chafin

VHCC students met with Senator Ben Chafin during a visit to Richmond that was organized by the Virginia Community College System to familiarize students with the legislative process and give lawmakers an opportunity to meet their community college constituents.

Four VHCC students traveled to Richmond in February to meet state lawmakers and explain how the College is helping them to achieve their educational goals.

The student group included two Patrick Henry High School and two Holston High School graduates who were chosen to participate in the annual VCCS initiative entitled Every Day is Community College Day. The goal of that program is to ensure community college students are in Richmond each day the Legislature is in session.  In addition to visiting legislators, students had the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and meet VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois


Carlie McCready : An affection for young children led Carlie McCready to pursue a career as a kindergarten teacher. So, after graduating from Patrick Henry High School in 2013, she enrolled in the Teacher Preparation program at VHCC. Because Carlie’s father is a tobacco farmer, she received a Virginia Tobacco Scholarship.  When she graduates with an associate’s degree in the spring, she plans to transfer to King University. Carlie said VHCC is the perfect learning environment for her because small class sizes have allowed her to excel academically.

025Frankie Coleman: A 2013 graduate of Patrick Henry High School, Frankie Coleman received a Virginia Tobacco Scholarship to attend VHCC because of her father’s past farming experience. She’s hard at work now on general education courses, but hopes to be accepted into the nursing program next year. Frankie said VHCC was a good choice for her because of the great reputation of the nursing program and the close proximity to home. She also likes the small class sizes and the opportunity to continue the next phase of her education with friends from high school.”My mother and aunt are both nurses, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.

002Conrad Thacker: While enrolled at Holston High School, Conrad Thacker did a host of volunteer projects to earn a Washington County Community Scholarship. When he graduated in 2014, he decided to use that scholarship and his love of math to study engineering at VHCC. But it wasn’t just the promise of free tuition that brought him to VHCC, Conrad said, explaining that he was also intrigued by the small class sizes that have allowed him to develop personal relationships with his teachers. That one-on-one attention has allowed him to excel academically, he said, and is preparing him for the next step of his education. “My sister is in the engineering program at Virginia Tech now, and I’m planning to transfer there to finish my four-year degree,” he said. “It’s hard to pass up the chance to get two years of college at no cost, so this was a good place for me to start.”

004Devin Keith: While a student at Holston High School, Devin Keith spent a lot of afternoons helping elementary school teachers with classroom tasks and picking up trash around his high school. All that volunteer service earned him a Washington County Community Scholarship, which covers all of his tuition at VHCC for two years. Devin has always enjoyed helping people, so he enrolled in the VHCC nursing program. He is currently working on the prerequisites needed, then plans to earn an associate’s degree. After graduation, he’ll be eligible to take the test needed to come licensed as a registered nurse. “I’ve heard great things about the nursing program here, so I thought this would be a good place to get my RN degree,” he said. “After I work for a few years, I’d like to continue at King University and become a nurse anesthetist.”

VMS Students Get Their Hands Dirty

Thanks to VHCC Greenhouse Manager Ben Casteel, students at Virginia Middle School now know that horticulture is both an art and science, that the last frost in our region occurs around May 10, and that organic gardening techniques are making a comeback.

Ben shared this information with participants in the VMS Afterschool Academy, a grant- funded program that has allowed VHCC to provide a series of hands-on career information designed to motivate students to begin planning for college. Thursday’s participants were encouraged to ask questions and even learned a thing or two about mycorrhizae. Then they were given the chance to put their hands in the dirt and plant a flower or vegetable to take home.

Students could choose between peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, basil or petunias. After learning how to plant the tiny specimens in a cup, Ben gave them tips for taking care of their plants until time to put them in the ground.

“You need to water it a few times a week,” he said. “If it feels kind of heavy, it probably doesn’t need water. If it’s real light and the soil is a light color, you probably need to water it a little.”

Criss Golden has worked closely with VMS teachers to coordinate activities for participating students. In addition to the horticulture activity, he arranged for students to visit campus, participate in a Reality Store program, and learn about biology and engineering from faculty members Kevin Hamed and Tom Tidwell.



Coastal Critters the Focus of Spring Break Study

photo2If your idea of a perfect Spring Break at the beach includes sun, sand, boat-tailed grackle and Yabby shrimp, you’re probably one of 14 students and three faculty members taking part in VHCC’s 2014 Coastal Ecology Course.

Jessica Cox described the experience nicely.

“I came on this trip expecting to learn about the marine environment, however it has become much more than that,” she said. “It has opened my eyes to how many different opportunities you have in life and the many different paths you can take. Seeing the dolphins following us on the boat and playing was amazing. Also catching frogs to identify them was out of this world. This has truly been the opportunity and trip of a lifetime.”

While others are taking a well-deserved break from class, this group of ambitious science enthusiasts is spending the week at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory for a week filled with hands-on exploration. They’re combing the beaches and woods, searching for sea creatures, coastal bird species, and plants that can’t be observed in the woods and mountains close to home.

“Just within the past few days I have learned and experienced more on this trip about different factors that shape an environment than I have ever learned in any classroom,” said student Austin Compton. “I will take what I learn on this trip everywhere I go. I am so glad I had the opportunity to be with critters over spring break!”

Coastal Ecology is offered at VHCC every other year and has been led for many years by Assistant Professor of Biology Kevin Hamed and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sandy Davis. Dr. Hara Charlier, vice president of Instruction and Student Services, is also participating this year.

If you’d like to learn more, check out this cool video including more quotes and photos from participating student.


photoStudents Dakota Hughes, Emma Buchanan, and Austin Compton joined VHCC President Ron Proffitt for a recent trip to Richmond to visit the Southwest Virginia legislative delegation. During their travels, students got the opportunity to meet Sen. Bill Carrico (center) and other legislators from the region. The trip was organized as part of “Every Day is Community College Day,” an annual initiative of Virginia’s Community Colleges. A second group of students is scheduled to travel to Richmond on Feb. 12-13.