YWCA Pays Tribute to Dr. Beth Page

BethPageDr. Beth Page was recently chosen to receive the YWCA of Bristol’s Tribute to Women Award in the education category. Receipents are chosen for their leadership qualities, positive impact on community, and demonstrated growth and achievement. Below is an abbreviated version of the nomination form submitted by VHCC President Gene Couch.

Dr. Beth Page has devoted her life to helping those most at risk of becoming just another statistic. She began her career as a crisis counselor for children and families in our region, then shifted her focus to education. Since joining the federal TRIO programs at Virginia Highlands Community College in 1999, she has helped thousands of students set and achieve ambitious goals, earn college degrees, and create a better life for themselves and their families.

Dr. Page came to VHCC as Director of Upward Bound, a U.S. Department of Education program dedicated to assisting high school students from low-income families in which neither parent holds a four-year degree. The ultimate goal is to help these young people complete high school and, ultimately, earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.

She tackled this challenging task by developing an innovative series of after-school classes and summer workshops that enable students to polish their academic skills while completing fun projects.  Through Aquaculture, for example, students often become so engaged in raising fish that they are completely unaware that they’re also developing science, math, and marketing skills. Music Makers allows students to build their own guitars and study songwriting, pushing them to become better writers and to think creatively.  A cultural component is also included each year to ensure students are exposed to diverse languages and people they may never encounter in their corner of Southwest Virginia.  And, they travel to historic sites and visit college campuses, all the while expanding their horizons and developing a deep appreciation for what is possible through education.

Dr. Page’s success with the Upward Bound Program was noticed by campus administrators, who asked her in 2006 to also lead the VHCC Educational Talent Search Program. This federal program, which has a similar purpose for both middle and high school students, challenges young people to begin preparing for college at a much younger age. Although Dr. Page continued to focus on delivering academic and support services through both programs, she also made a concerted effort to examine the wellbeing of each student she served. Her background in crisis counseling enabled her to recognize personal issues that could impede success and to refer students to agencies equipped to help.

Today Dr. Page leads The Excel Center at VHCC, the TRIO program that assists students once they enroll in college. She continues to serve those most at risk of dropping out by provide tutoring, advising, personal counseling, study skills workshops, transfer assistance, and a long list of other services that enable them to complete an Associate’s Degree and transition to a four-year institution. Her door is always open, and she is always ready with a warm smile.

Soon after earning a bachelor’s degree in Human Services & Spanish from Carson Newman College, Dr. Page continued her educatio­­­n at East Tennessee State University. She earned a master’s degree in Marriage & Family Counseling in 1988, then returned to ETSU to earn a Doctor of Education in 2009. She uses her own educational experiences as an example to the students she counsels, explaining that she came from a similar background and achieved her goals through perseverance and hard work.

Additionally, she remains well versed in employment laws and serves VHCC as its Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Officer. In this role, she works closely with hiring committees to ensure candidates for each position are treated fairly and that consideration is given to those who can bring new perspectives to campus. She stays abreast of all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and oversees services for students with disabilities. She recently took on the role of Title IX Coordinator, too, and now is responsible for leading campus efforts to combat sexual violence and harassment.

Additionally, Dr. Page teaches courses in Psychology and  Student Development on an adjunct basis, and remains the go-to person on campus for students and employees who are facing personal crises. Her caring nature and professional expertise have earned her the trust and respect of the entire campus community.

Dr. Page has been asked to step into a variety of roles on the VHCC campus and throughout the community because of her educational background and personal commitment to eliminate racism and empower women. These values led her to the YWCA of Bristol. Through her membership on the YWCA Board, she has championed efforts to assist pregnant teens and low-income parents, provide an affordable fitness facility for women, and promote racial justice through a series of community programs.

She has been an advocate for many of these same causes at VHCC, helping the entire campus community to see that the world is a better place when we celebrate our differences and embrace diversity.

Dr. Page has given a warm heart to VHCC’s federal TRIO programs. Although her job requires her to manage budgets and track statistics, she is far more concerned with the immediate needs of the at-risk students who have been entrusted to her care. She is always quick with a friendly smile, a warm welcome, and a helping hand. Our region is a better place to live, to work, and to learn as a result.