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Delta Dental provides support to RAMP

Delta Dental of Virginia has contributed $30,000 to the Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program (RAMP) to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

The funding will help pay for expenses and programs at the RAMP’s headquarters  at 709 S. Jefferson St. in downtown Roanoke.

“Delta Dental is Virginia’s largest dental benefits company, and we are constantly investing in ways to remain on the forefront of technology when it comes to serving our customers,” said Frank Lucia, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Virginia. “Being headquartered in Roanoke, we are committed to supporting innovation in our growing technology and health sciences industries. We believe this investment will support our emerging startup culture and attract and retain talent in the region.”

RAMP’s mission is to help high-potential startups expand and create jobs in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEM-H) fields throughout the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. Partners in the initiative include the City of Roanoke, which renovated RAMP’s home in the historic Gill Memorial Hospital building; the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), which recruits RAMP participants and provides them mentorship and networking opportunities; and Virginia Western Community College, which provides on-site business education training.

“We are deeply appreciative for Delta Dental’s pledge to innovation and entrepreneurship,” added Robert McAden, president and CEO of the RBTC. “Supporters like Delta Dental understand that our success is about planting the seeds. If we want the region to grow, we need to foster entrepreneurship. Growing business is important, because those businesses eventually become customers. We need a thriving startup culture to grow.”

As part of the contribution, one of the rooms in the RAMP building will be named after Delta Dental of Virginia.

RAMP participants, called cohort companies, are selected every year for the opportunity to benefit from a mentoring program, networking opportunities, business education and access to capital. Applications are being accepted for the next cohort. The companies will be announced at RBTC’s TechNite awards gala on May 3.

Warner Memorial Scholarship makes difference for nursing student

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation is proud to announce the first recipient of the Michael E. Warner Memorial Scholarship, which was established in honor of a longtime member of its Board of Directors.

The scholarship was initiated by Roanoke businessman Geoffrey M. Ottaway, who sought to honor his friendship with Warner after he passed away in 2013. In subsequent years, the Warner family and the Educational Foundation hosted a golf tournament at Hunting Hills Country Club that benefited the scholarship fund.

Erika Buck of Roanoke was named the first recipient of the Warner scholarship, which covers all costs for tuition, books and other related fees for a full-time student with a minimum 3.0 GPA enrolled in and pursuing a degree in Nursing or certificate in Practical Nursing at Virginia Western. Buck is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science Nursing (RN) degree and maintains a 3.89 GPA.

A nontraditional student, Buck worked as a phlebotomist full time while attended the College to complete her nursing program prerequisites. Her goal is to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and ultimately specialize as a critical care nurse.

“Thanks to this scholarship, I’m one step closer to achieving my goal,” Buck said. “I’m excited to finish and become a nurse.”

Warner’s widow, Carolyn, said the scholarship honors the healthcare workers who assisted her husband when he became ill. “I was so taken with the nurses who took care of my husband,” she said. “I think Mike would be happy, too, knowing that this scholarship was now available.”

CCAP: Building tomorrow’s leaders

In Spring 2017, Cassidy Peters graduated from Virginia Western with an associate in science degree, Phi Theta Kappa honors and dreams of becoming a health care administrator in the mold of Lisa Cuddy on Fox TV’s “House, M.D.”

What brought you to Virginia Western?

I am a first-generation college student. I live in Ferrum, my family is not super-wealthy. I had no idea how to really do the college thing.

But a Virginia Western advisor approached me in high school and told me about CCAP, how I could go tuition-free if I met all of the requirements. A Franklin County High School teacher also told me about my options with the transfer program.

It seemed like an easy decision to me. I was good for two years and I had all the advising help I needed. To me, I knew this was the best option because — while I’ve never held $20,000 in my hands — I know I don’t want to pay it a year.

What would you have done without CCAP?

My first semester here was a little shaky. I don’t think high school students know how to study. It’s a difficult transition, to try to teach yourself a lot. If I’d gone to a four-year school, my GPA would not be as good as it is and I’d have student loans. And I think I wouldn’t have been as grown up – I really grew up here. I really know what I want now.

What are your plans after Virginia Western?

I am transferring to Jefferson College of Health Sciences to get a bachelor’s in health sciences and then hope to become a physician’s assistant. But my ultimate goal is to get a master’s in healthcare administration. I want to be Cuddy and help run a hospital. I very much crave leadership – a good leader can bring out the best in people.  And I like the idea of saving lives and making that as efficient as possible.

What role did the advisors at Virginia Western play in that decision?

It was my business advisor here who told me, “Hey, you can get your MBA but also have a strong health tie.’ I had no idea that even existed.

What I noticed is when you talk to advisors at four-year schools, the only thing they market to you is their school. Here, the difference is their goal is to get you to your end goal – not just to this school. You guys were looking more at the big picture instead of just selling me on the school.

How important is CCAP in Franklin County?

CCAP really does mean the difference between a kid having to take years off to earn money for school or not. It really is a door for a lot of kids. Because without it, they couldn’t afford it. Like me — I never had parents who went to college. They didn’t know how to take out a student loan or what a FAFSA was. I really had to figure it out by myself. I’m grateful I had two years here to grow up and figure that out myself.