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In-person classes and free college funding for Fall

Virginia Western Community College announces plans to provide a full array of in-person classes for its Fall Semester, which begins on Aug. 23, 2021. New funding from the state’s G3 program, the Re-Employing Virginians (REV) campaign and other initiatives means many students can begin the education and training they need for high-demand career fields free. Open enrollment for new students begins May 10, and on April 21 for returning students at www.virginiawestern.edu

The college will provide in-person classes with social distancing in place, adhering to guidelines from the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. In addition, the college will also provide a mixture of online and remote learning formats along with online advising services for students who do not choose to attend on campus. The college strives to meet the safety, health and well-being of the entire community, and to continue its mission to provide quality educational and training opportunities.

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome more students back to our beautiful campus this fall for in-person classes,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, Virginia Western President. “We have learned a great deal throughout the pandemic about the best ways to deliver high-quality instruction online. At the same time, we know that many of our students learn best when they are in a classroom on campus. With the changing health and safety guidelines, we are now able to offer the best of both worlds. And now, many students can attend for free!”

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation recently for his “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, or G3. The $36 million program makes tuition-free community college available to an estimated 36,000 low and middle-income students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields.

G3 is just one option for attending college free in the fall. Interested students can read about G3 and other funding initiatives, and find out if they qualify by visiting: www.virginiawestern.edu/freecollege. Some funding initiatives are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis when available, so students should apply today!

“After more than a decade of our Community College Access Program (CCAP) providing tuition assistance for students graduating high schools in our region, we have seen the difference it has made on individuals’ lives as well as upon the local economy,” said Sandel. “The Governor’s new G3 program is poised to have a tremendously positive impact by helping more adult learners access the skilled training they need to build a career in healthcare, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education and public safety.”

In addition to courses in Virginia Western’s academic calendar, the School of Career and Corporate Training (CCT) provides state-of-the-art training and retraining resources with short-term training and credentialing programs, many of which have additional funding opportunities. To find out more about CCT courses, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/cct.

First VWCC Culinary Arts Salon gives students taste of international competition

Virginia Western Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program hosts
first Culinary Arts Salon with international list of chef competitors

3 students place in competition funded by the Educational Foundation’s Donald G. Smith endowment

ROANOKE – Virginia Western Community College’s Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program recently hosted its first Culinary Arts Salon with funding support from the Virginia Western Education Foundation. The event, an American Culinary Foundation (ACF) sanctioned cooking competition held on April 10, gave students a first-hand experience alongside the high-level international chefs at the Claude Moore Educational Complex in downtown Roanoke.

Virginia Western faculty, Chefs Ted Polfelt and John Schopp, worked through the ACF for sanctioning of the event, which followed campus COVID safety protocols. Polfelt, who was named the Educational Foundation’s Donald G. Smith Endowed Teaching Chair in 2019, organized the competition. 

“I applied for the endowment fund through the Foundation as a means to give Virginia Western students an opportunity to compete without traveling — while also offering our students first-hand vision of the high-level chefs who compete throughout the country in ACF competitions,” Polfelt said. “We hope the Salon will become an annual event at our state-of-the-art facilities at Claude Moore.”

The competition included categories for Hot Food, Cold Plated Dessert, Cold Food platter displays and sculptures. Three students from Virginia Western’s Culinary Arts Program were among the competitors, which included chefs from Turkey, Detroit, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Chicago and Washington, DC. Virginia Western’s student participants were: Daniel Lemons, Josh Wasky and Chase Cochran, all of whom won bronze medals. Chef Polfelt also competed and won a silver medal.

Judges for the competition were Chef Alan Neace from Cincinnati, Ohio, Chef Michael Matarazzo from Charlottesville, Va., and Chef Sarah Deckert from the U.S. Army, stationed in Washington, DC.

Culinary Arts students volunteered with the event preparation, set-up and cleanup while maintaining COVID-safe protocols and compliance.

“The students were inspired, got to network with chefs from around the country and are talking about competing in the next one,” Polfelt said.

Organizers expressed thanks to Culinary Arts adjunct instructor and alumnus Greg Moran, who worked behind the scenes to help chefs, students and judges and to ensure the Salon ran flawlessly. “Greg is always willing to step up and volunteer his time to make the chefs, the program and our students shine,” Polfelt said.

The endowed chair is named for the late Don Smith, who led Roanoke Electric Steel and was a Director Emeriti of the Educational Foundation. Steel Dynamics Inc., formerly Roanoke Electric Steel, established the endowed chair in 2006 with a $100,000 gift to honor Smith’s longtime leadership. Smith was president of Roanoke Steel from 1985 to 2004 and worked for the company 49 years.

The Donald G. Smith Endowed Teaching Chair is intended to honor an outstanding instructor who advances the understanding of business management principles in his or her coursework, regardless of academic discipline. The honored teacher may use the funds to enhance the quality of his or her curriculum, facilities or instruction in any way he or she deems necessary.

Polfelt’s endowed chair appointment spans the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. He is the third recipient of the Donald G. Smith Endowed Teaching Chair, following Alexander Scott, an associate professor of Spanish, and Cristin Barrett, an assistant professor of mathematics.

Get on the road with VWCC’s Motorcycle Safety Program

Virginia Western Community College announces the re-opening of its in-person Motorcycle Safety Program, licensed by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as a Virginia Rider Training Program training site. Virginia Western recently purchased a fleet of 15 new motorcycles through the DMV’s motorcycle fund for students to improve their skills.

Upon completion of the Virginia Rider Training Program, students will earn a course completion certificate to provide to DMV, which will exempt them from completing both the motorcycle knowledge exam and the road skills exam. The certificates are valid for a period of one year from the date of course completion. 

Virginia Western provides the only Virginia Rider Training Program in Roanoke City and the immediate surrounding counties, with certified motorcycle safety instructors who can teach beginning and experienced riders new techniques in a controlled, safe environment. Classes are held on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the spring, summer and fall semesters. To find out more information and enroll, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/btt/motorcycle.php.

“Following in person classes returning to campus in July, 2020 and a reorganization of our program and renewed partnership with DMV, we are very happy to resume this critical training riders need,” said Roger Hamner, the program’s lead instructor. “The addition of these beautiful new motorcycles will mean more riders can learn valuable safety and awareness techniques and be confident they are learning on the latest equipment and technology major manufacturers have to offer, which is important to the continued growth of our program.”

Virginia Western’s motorcycle fleet includes BMW G310R, Yamaha TW200, Yamaha VStar 250, Yamaha XT 250, Suzuki TU250X and Kawasaki Z125 PRO motorcycles. Students in the Basic Rider 2-Wheel Course attend one weekend of classes: Friday from 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m-4 p.m. Students who pass both the written and skills tests will earn their DMV provisional motorcycle license. The current in-state tuition cost for the course is $170.09.

In addition to the Basic Rider 2-Wheel Course, Virginia Western offers an Experienced Rider 2-Wheel Course and a One-on-One Course. 

For more information or help enrolling, contact course coordinator Tammy Meador at 540-857-6402 or tmeador@virginiawestern.edu.

Educational Foundation announces spring scholarship recipients

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation announces that it awarded scholarships to 113 students attending the spring 2021 semester at Virginia Western Community College.

Deadline to apply for fall 2021 scholarships is May 3, 2021. Apply now at: www.virginiawestern.edu/scholarship.  

RecipientLocalitySpring 2021 Award(s)
Carstella OsborneAlleghany CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Raegan GlennAugust CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Giovanna MorabitoAugust CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Tammy MiniBedford CityFoot Levelers Endowed Scholarship
Erin HeltonBedford CountyAlumni Association Annual Book Scholarship & The John Mathis, MD and Krista Crawford-Mathis Endowed Scholarship
Harleigh LyleBedford CountyJohn Morris Roslyn Educational Scholarship
Jesica MartinBedford CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Dr. Kevin Conway Endowed Scholarship
Olivia OverstreetBedford CountyMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
James WadeBedford CountyConstruction Management Certificate Program Scholarship
Jacob BerryBotetourt CountyNicholas E. Janney Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Mark DeHartBotetourt CountyGerry Montgomery Meador Endowed Scholarship
Joseph DesaiBotetourt CountyJohn Morris Roslyn Educational Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Cassie FeltisBotetourt CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship & Kiwanis Club of Botetourt County Endowed Scholarship
Macie KillenBotetourt CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Melina SmithBotetourt CountyEducational Foundation General Scholarship
Kelsey WilliamsonBotetourt CountyEducational Foundation General Scholarship
Justin YoungBotetourt CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Therese TownsendFairfax CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Lisa DanielsFloyd CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Brienna ShapiroFloyd CountyThe William Bernard Alphin Annual Scholarship
Lisa AnthonyFranklin CountyVWCC Culinary Scholarship
Michael AnthonyFranklin CountyJames Mark Mitchell Memorial Art Endowed Scholarship & Pearman Annual Scholarship
Heidi AustinFranklin CountyShentel Foundation Annual Scholarship & SunTrust Community Service Endowed Scholarship
Austin BehrendtFranklin CountyFred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship
Foster BornsteinFranklin CountyWilliam Milton Meador Endowed Scholarship
Raistlin BrabsonFranklin CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Jennifer BruigntonFranklin CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Cade CobbsFranklin CountyAl Pollard Memorial Scholarships for the Culinary Arts & VWCC Culinary Scholarship
Gabriel JohnsonFranklin CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Kevin KirkhamFranklin CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Kiril LozeauFranklin CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Mackenzie MasseyFranklin CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Deana ValadeFranklin CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Meredith DobynsLynchburgFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Amanda ChrisleyMontgomery CountyAl Pollard Memorial Scholarships for the Culinary Arts & VWCC Culinary Scholarship
Hannah ChambersPoquosonThe Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship
Sara EdwardsRadfordMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Brittany AkersRoanoke CityPearman Annual Scholarship
Kimberly ArcherRoanoke CityFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Nathan AustinRoanoke CityGertrude Light Hubbard Endowed Scholarship
Sapana BaniyaRoanoke CityPetroleum Marketers, Inc. Endowed Scholarship & The Flippin Family Endowed Scholarship
Anita BudathokiRoanoke CityDr. J. Andrew Archer Memorial Annual Scholarship
Nickolas ChuRoanoke CityBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Jacob ColeRoanoke CityConstruction Management Certificate Program Scholarship
Laura HardyRoanoke CityEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
William HobbsRoanoke CityDolores Martin Skelly Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Madeline JonesRoanoke CityFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Benjamin MacDonaldRoanoke CityMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Antoinette MacklinRoanoke CityRichfield Living Annual Nursing Scholarship
Sabin MainaliRoanoke CityJ.K. and Donna Speas Annual Scholarship & Virginia Western BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Annual Scholarship
Liannah MauldinRoanoke CityVFCCE Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Derek McIntyreRoanoke CityThe Elizabeth and Harry Sellers Annual Scholarship
Marla MoockRoanoke CityAmerican Sign Language Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Laura Knight Schowe & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Seweryn MorgiewiczRoanoke CityKatherine Futrell Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Nargis NoorzadRoanoke CityRefugee and Immigrant Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Kira ShelorRoanoke CityFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Meghan SizemoreRoanoke CityPeter and Roseta Skelly Endowed Scholarship
Mahoro TumainiRoanoke CityMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Bradley WallaceRoanoke CityAppalachian Power Endowed Scholarship & John Morris Roslyn Educational Scholarship
Jakym WhiteRoanoke CityEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Ephraimina Adu-NewmanRoanoke CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Katie BechtoldRoanoke CountyFriendship Annual Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Alexis BedrosianRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Kaitlyn BowmanRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Xiaoyan CaoRoanoke CountyBusiness, Technology & Trades Annual Scholarship in honor of Deborah A. Yancey & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Jeremiah CarterRoanoke CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Casey CartyRoanoke CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Bailey CassellRoanoke CountyFred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship
Sada CharlemagneRoanoke CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Alexa CrosierRoanoke CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Sean DooleyRoanoke CountyDennis Spaulding Memorial Developmental Scholarship
Jamie DyerRoanoke CountyDennis L. & Hazel Phillips Blalock Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Chasity EasterRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Christina FiedlerRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Whitney GoodwinRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation General Scholarship & John Hall and Chris Tucker Honorary Endowed Scholarship
Christopher HallRoanoke CountyEmployee Giving Annual Scholarship & Martha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Kristine HarperRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Kadie HarrisRoanoke CountyAlice Becker Hinchcliffe Williams Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Ellen HartleyRoanoke CountyJohn Morris Roslyn Educational Scholarship
Quamyrha HaydenRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Lorenzo Hernandez-SuarezRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Alicia HibbsRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Trevor HillRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Shannon HoeyRoanoke CountyRichard J. Gaynor Memorial Scholarship
Elisabeth HutchinsRoanoke CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Rachel HutchinsRoanoke CountyFred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship & Odasz Annual Scholarship
Jacob JohnsonRoanoke CountyLucian Y. and June B. Grove Honorary Endowed Scholarship
Jason KroegerRoanoke CountyAl Pollard Memorial Scholarships for the Culinary Arts & VWCC Culinary Scholarship
MIchelle LabrecqueRoanoke CountyMartha & William Adams Scholarship Trust
Lesley LanghornRoanoke CountySuzanne Hanks Paralegal Endowed Scholarship
Carrie LawsonRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Haley MayhewRoanoke CountyRita Halsey David Radiography Endowed Scholarship
William McCoyRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Daniel NaryRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Nathan PatrickRoanoke CountyAl Pollard Memorial Scholarships for the Culinary Arts & VWCC Culinary Scholarship
Nicole PodleckiRoanoke CountyMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Amber RickmanRoanoke CountyWalter Darnall Vinyard Endowed Scholarship
Elise SaundersRoanoke CountyThe Kroger Foundation Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Madison SaundersRoanoke CountyMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Michael SecrestRoanoke CountyDr. J. Andrew Archer Memorial Annual Scholarship
Laurel SheltonRoanoke CountyBeverly and Leon Harris Teaching and Nursing Annual Scholarship
Sarah SnyderRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Rebecca TownleyRoanoke CountyDr. Kevin Conway Endowed Scholarship
Rory UnderwoodRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Arlyse WashRoanoke CountyDonald Willson Memorial Scholarship & David L. Nickerson Honorary Endowed Scholarship
Britney WelliverRoanoke CountyDr. Donna Harpold Memorial Annual Scholarship & Michael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Kayla WittRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Zachary HostetterRockbridge CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Zoe AustSalemBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Tuan ChauSalemFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Landon HyltonSalemBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Sara KingerySalemFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Alexa WarmeSalemMcFarland Endowed Scholarship
For information on donating to or establishing a scholarship at Virginia Western, contact Donor  Relations Coordinator Amanda Mansfield at (540) 857-6962 or amansfield@virginiawestern.edu. 

Support VWCC Nursing with virtual 5K race

The Virginia Western Community College nursing program announces the Nurses Run for Education Virtual 5K race to support the program, students and future front-line workers. Participants in the event can run or walk the 5K distance at the location of their choice from April 17 through Nurses Week May 14, 2021. T-shirt and donation funds raised for the event will support the Virginia Western Educational Foundation’s Nursing Program Fund.

To register for the event and to select your race T-shirt for participating, please visit: http://www.fuzzypickletshirts.com/vwcc5k. Participants can run or walk in the comfort of their own environment (or treadmill) and at their own pace without judgement. The purpose of this annual event is to support Virginia Western nursing students and the nursing program, while promoting a sense of community and compassion in the community. 

“I am so proud to be a student in the Virginia Western nursing program. During this pandemic, it has become apparent that we need strong, capable, compassionate nurses across the country,” said Kara Gerenser, a first-year nursing student. “I couldn’t think of a better career choice than having the opportunity to help people every single day.”

“Our nursing program fund is new this year and we are thrilled to launch this race as a way to raise much-needed funds for our program and our students,” said Darla Summers, a nursing faculty member. “So many of our students will soon be front-line workers and they have been affected financially and personally by the COVID-19 pandemic like all of us. Public support will help them complete their education and be prepared with the knowledge and the skills they need to support our community medically through this time. In addition, funds go directly back to the nursing program to support innovative teaching methods, buy enhance medical equipment and resources for our students to keep up with the ever changing field of medical science. “

To donate online directly to the Nursing Program Fund, you can visit here and put “Nursing Program Fund” in the “Other” field. Your generous donation will support our future nurses and the nursing program.

“Nursing is my second career in life. I chose this program because I’ve had the privilege of working in the accounting/business side of healthcare for years and I’ve seen the negative effects of healthcare on people’s lives when they receive poor care,” said Deana Valade, a second-year nursing student. “As nurses, we are the front line workers with our patients so we start the domino effect of healthcare and we also finish it. We are a transfer of care that never ends. All of this is to say that Virginia Western’s RN program has shaped me into the nurse that I have always wanted to be and that is so vital in today’s healthcare.”

Virginia Western’s Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Nursing was established in 1972 to prepare students for licensure as a registered nurse. The nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and is approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing.

The two-year nursing program has a competitive admissions process that attracts more than 500 applicants annually. Graduates complete more than 500 hours of clinical experiences providing direct patient care in the Roanoke Region. Nearly 90 percent of nursing graduates continue to live and work in the Roanoke Region after completing their studies.

Virginia Western and the Nursing Program thank our dedicated sponsors for this event:


Carilion Clinic Neurosurgery

Carilion Clinic Orthopaedics

Christ Temple Bible Way


Virginia Western Nursing Program



Dr. Thomas Frimpong, Complex Spine Neurosurgeon

Dr. Chine Sp Logan, Endovascular Neurosurgeon

Dr. Jonathan McNeal, Neurosurgeon

Dr. Andrew Nicholson, Neuro Interventional Radiologist

Dr. Bryan Collier, Trauma Surgeon

Schwartz & Associates, Inc., Consulting Engineers Roanoke-Lynchburg

Brad Thomas, Mountain View Restate

Big Lick Brewery

LewisGale Medical Center

A&E Foundations

Jason Bialeck Mortage Team Guaranteed Rate

Shear Perfection Salon

Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar

Fleet Feet


Dr. Gary Simonds, Neurosurgeon

Dr. Edgar Weaver Jr., Neurosurgeon

Summer registration now open

Virginia Western Community College will provide a full array of Summer Semester classes with a mixture of online and remote learning formats along with in-person technical training, clinical and lab instruction. Classes begin on May 24 and will be offered in 10-week and 5-week sessions. To view the class schedule and register today, click here.

The college strives to meet the safety, health and well-being of the entire community, and to continue its mission to provide quality educational and training opportunities.

Virginia Western will provide the majority of lecture and general education courses online and will be prepared to pivot its hybrid and hands-on courses to online should that be necessary. Some online courses are structured to meet at specific times on tools like Zoom, just like a traditional in-person class, so students can engage with their instructor and classmates together. Others offer a chance to learn material at one’s own pace, needing simply to complete assignments or take exams by specific deadlines. Our faculty stand ready to help students succeed, regardless of which mode they prefer.

Shenandoah Valley Organic creates scholarship to support agriculture studies

Virginia Western Community College announces a new scholarship for Agriculture students, designed to attract a more diverse group of farmers to the industry.

Shenandoah Valley Organic has established the $5,000 annual scholarship, which will provide funds for tuition, books and fees to one student per academic year pursuing an Associate Degree in Agriculture. The goal is to help boost the shrinking industry and draw a new generation of farmers from more diverse backgrounds, including females, minorities and urban residents. 

Shenandoah Valley Organic is a farm collaborative founded in 2014 in Harrisonburg, Va., to promote and protect generational family farming. Shenandoah Valley is the parent company of Farmer Focus, an organic chicken brand available in groceries across the Commonwealth. 

“With over 70 partner farms in the state, our mission is to inspire people to get excited about farming and its lifestyle,” said Lorenzo Bared, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development of Shenandoah Valley Organic. “Virginia Western was a perfect fit, as their program is aligned with our mission of protecting and promoting generational family farms. Our hope is that younger people consider a future in farming and see it as a more sustainable, attractive profession.”

Classes within Virginia Western’s Associate of Agriculture degree program include animal and plant sciences, as well as forestry. Agribusiness classes prepare students to manage farm finances and work in the business side of agriculture.   

The track for non-transfer students often includes welding and hydraulics classes, so they are prepared to operate major farm equipment. Students who finish with the associate degree can get jobs as a veterinary technician, farm hand, animal breeder or produce inspector. 

The program is also designed as a foundation for those planning to transfer to four-year institutions to pursue jobs as veterinarians, or become animal, plant or food scientists or researchers. Ferrum College and Virginia Tech offer Agriculture and Veterinary studies. 

Amy White, Dean of Virginia Western’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Department, said one of the advantages of the program is that it is flexible and customizable based on an individual student’s needs.

“Part of its charm is that we have an advisor dedicated to working with each of the ag students, and instructors really get to know their students and help support their goals and guide them along the path that they are interested in,” she said. 

There are 52 students enrolled in the college’s Agriculture program, which started its first class in 2019. Five students plan to graduate this spring.

White is pleased with the expanding interest in the program, and confident that the new scholarship will help fuel its growth. 

“This was a ‘Build it, and they will come’ type of program, but clearly the strong enrollment numbers, and students graduating at the earliest possible date, demonstrates demand for agricultural studies,” White said. 

According to White, the partnership with Shenandoah Valley Organic is the ideal example of academics and industry coming together to create talent and promote an industry.

“It’s exciting to think about the opportunities this collaboration creates to attract and retain our own talent in an industry that is so important to our region,” White said. “It’s a classic example of how, when two entities merge, you can only have success. The missions of our College and SVO collided in a perfect way.”

The Shenandoah Valley Organic Annual Scholarship is one of more than 100 scholarships offered by the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation. Applications for the fall 2021 scholarship cycle are open through May 3, 2021. Apply online at www.virginiawestern.edu/scholarship.

The Shenandoah Valley Organic Annual Scholarship provides assistance for tuition, books and fees to one student per academic year (fall and spring).  Applicants must be enrolled in at least six credits per semester, pursuing an Associate Degree in the Agriculture program and possess a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA. Preference will be given to underserved student populations, as defined by the Virginia Community College System.

For more information, contact Amanda Mansfield, the Educational Foundation’s Philanthropy Director, at (540) 857-6962 or amansfield@virginiawestern.edu.

Graduation Update

Prior to Governor Ralph Northam’s recent update, Virginia Western determined it would host a virtual commencement ceremony in accordance with health and safety information developed by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health and the Governor’s Office. The new limit for indoor events is a 500-person maximum, or 30 percent of a venue’s capacity. That is not enough to accommodate our college’s graduates, faculty and staff, even without counting an audience. While the state is now permitting outdoor ceremonies to have larger numbers of attendees, with corresponding safety measures, the limitations as well as availability of such locations in our region do not make a regular in-person Virginia Western graduation ceremony feasible this year.

The college’s re-opening plans this academic year have focused on making campus and academic settings as safe as possible for our students, faculty and staff. The Commonwealth is not in the vaccination phase for the majority of our employees and students, and we believe it is in the best interest of our community’s health to proceed with a virtual event. We look forward to planning a full in-person graduation ceremony next year.

Updated March 19, 2021

Graduation message from President Sandel

As we approach the midpoint of Spring Semester, I sincerely thank you for your resilience through this academic year and all the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know there have been many challenges as we have striven to keep our college community as safe as possible. Our students’ success is a testament to their determination and to the outstanding work of our faculty and staff.

The end of the academic year is traditionally a time to celebrate, and our commencement ceremony is what I look forward to the most. As much as I would like to speed up the timeline of returning to normal operations, we continue to follow Governor Northam, and Virginia Department of Health guidelines; and are unable to hold an in-person graduation as we have done in the past.  It is not feasible at this time to host an alternate ceremony with the number of graduates and families we would expect.

This year, we will confer degrees through a graduation video ceremony on Friday, May 14, 2021, on our website and on YouTube. We will feature a traditional speaking agenda with national bestselling author Beth Macy providing a speech along with a student speaker. Our school deans will read our graduating students’ names and those students will be able to submit a photo and a quote for their fellow students or families to see.

For students to be included, they must first apply for graduation. To find out how, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/graduation/apply.php. Those who wish to submit a photo and quote for the graduation video, should log in to their student email account from MyVWCC, then visit the form here: https://forms.gle/P7jTyp2tRckN7rdi9.

We hope that as many students as possible will participate in the creation of this video to make it special for themselves and their families.

Thank you again for all you have done during this challenging time to better yourselves and your community.


Dr. Robert H. Sandel


Virginia Western Community College

New scholarship to help increase diversity in advertising fields

February’s Black History Month is an important time to recognize and honor the contributions African-Americans have made in the United States and to acknowledge the hardships they have faced. It is also a time to examine our institutions and advance ways to strengthen them through enhanced diversity.

The Virginia Western Educational Foundation is proud to launch new annual and endowed scholarships, with support from an area advertising agency, intended to create greater diversity in the communications and advertising fields. The Virginia Western BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Annual Scholarship will be available to students in communications and advertising fields in Fall Semester 2021.

Interested students may apply for the scholarship beginning on March 1 at: https://virginiawestern.edu/foundation/scholarship/index.php.

 “We acknowledge that this scholarship is not a solution and is only one small step in welcoming new voices and new talent to our industry,” said Tony Pearman, President and CEO of Access Advertising & Public Relations which launched the fund with a lead gift. “Access, along with others, still has a lot of work to do; but our hope is that our peers will join us in creating opportunities to inspire BIPOC students to share their voices with the world through our industry.” 

“We are extremely grateful for this generous gift from Access to launch the BIPOC Annual Scholarship,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Access understands the intrinsic value of higher education and we hope this scholarship will open doors for a diverse array of students to seek their careers in communications and advertising.”

The scholarship will provide tuition assistance to a student enrolled in at least six credits per semester in a communications/advertising program of study. Applicable coursework at time of establishment includes Visual Design, Communication Design, Management, Administrative Management Technology, Web Programmer and Management: Entrepreneurship.

Access Advertising & Public Relations has served clients both domestically and internationally from its Roanoke office for more then 24 years.

For more information on how you can support the BIPOC Annual Scholarship or others, contact:
Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director
Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation
(540) 857-6962

Virginia Western 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Call for Nominations

The Virginia Western Educational Foundation and the Virginia Western Alumni Association are calling for nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award.  The annual recipient or recipients will receive the award at a special Scholarship Awards Ceremony in the spring, and a plaque will be placed on the Virginia Western Distinguished Alumni Wall outside Whitman Theater.

For many, the road to lifetime achievement started at Virginia Western Community College.  The Virginia Western Alumni Association established the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006 to recognize those alumni who have achieved outstanding success and made a lasting impact on their community. The prestigious award is intended to showcase the diversity of Virginia Western graduates and their range of influence on our region.

Prior honorees:  

2020 – Tony Pearman ’10

2019 – Deborah L. Petrine ’74

2018 – Elizabeth Testerman ’06

2017 – Dr. Carol Swain ’78

2016 – Mary B. Loritsch Ed.D., R.T. (R) ’74 and Michael A. Crawley

2015 – Deborah A. Yancey ’97 and ’98

2014 – Chief Craig S. Harris ’00 & J. David Wine ’73

2013 – Cheryl Cunningham ’86

2012 – Anne Hogan ’76

2011 – Carolyn Webster ’81

2010 – Russell H. Ellis ’80

2009 – Shirl D. Lamanca ’75 and Dennis R. Cronk ’72

2008 – Donna L. Mitchell ’81

2007 – Dr. Kent A. Murphy and Charlotte C. Tyson ’84

2006 – John B. Williamson III ’75

Anne Hogan (’76), serves as chairwoman of the Alumni Association. The Association fosters a mutually beneficial relationship and interaction between the College, its alumni, and the community; connecting with the college community to recognize and foster the diverse talents and successes of Virginia Western graduates.

Distinguished Alumni Eligibility requirements:

To be eligible for nomination, the candidate must:

  • Be a graduate of or have completed a minimum of two semesters at Virginia Western Community College.
  • Have attained extraordinary distinction and success in his or her profession or life.
  • Be a person of such integrity and stature that the College will take pride in his or her recognition.
  • Have attained regional, statewide or national prominence and significant involvement in civic, cultural or charitable affairs.

How to nominate:

Anyone may nominate a Virginia Western Community College alumna/us or former student for this award by completing a nomination form.  This form can be submitted online or downloaded from the College’s website at virginiawestern.edu/alumni.  Two letters of reference are also required. 


Nominations must be received by Feb. 28, 2021.

For more information, contact Amanda Mansfield, Philanthropy Director, Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.