Great Expectations Program Provides Hope

By David Somerville

Great Expectations Students at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C.
Great Expectations students at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C.
As many of the VHCC Community knows, Great Expectations is an amazing program set up for youth in Foster Care and those that have been in Foster Care. What many may not know, however, is the impact that it has on these students personally. My name is David Somerville, and yup, you guessed it, I am in the Great Expectations program. I came to VHCC from Bluefield College about a year ago, and to say the least, I was scared and didn’t know what to expect. However, I was not alone. On my first day on the VHCC campus while registering for classes, I met a man whom I am lucky to call my friend – Mr. Criss Golden.

He guided me through the whole enrollment process, setting up the placement tests, getting me connected with Mr. McBride to set up my schedule, helping me get my ID, all the way to helping me when it came time to get my books. He made the transition to a new environment easier, and from that day on, he became my greatest on-campus ally. When I got settled on my first day of classes, not only did he help remind me where to go, but he listened to my concerns and was there to support me. As our relationship has evolved, he has always been there to support me.

If we need a tutor, he arranges one. If we need someone to talk to or a friend to support us, he is there. He doesn’t just connect us to other services or people at VHCC, but also brings other community service leaders to campus. He has provided Career Readiness Certificate testing, gift cards, study skills trainings, and just about anything that we could need. He also provides us with opportunities that I never thought possible. Since becoming a Great Expectations student, I have had the opportunity to attend the Presidential Inauguration, go to DC and Baltimore for a summer adventure, and so much more. What was I expecting? Not this. Not the constant support, not growing in my own confidence and belief in myself, nothing like that.

Through this program, I went from doubting myself to having enough faith in myself to say, “I will graduate next semester, I will do it, I won’t be a statistic.” The program is called Great Expectations because that is what is expected of everyone in the program. Mr. Golden does more than give us meetings, trips, gift cards, and food – he gives us hope. For that, I say thank you. Thank you for being there and not giving up on us. Thank you for being a mentor, and thank you for being a friend.

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