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About the Author

Tara Nepper

Message from President Sandel

The start of an academic year is an exciting time – full of hope, promise and opportunity. At Virginia Western, we are looking forward to a wonderful year. However, the recent events in Charlottesville have left many of us, and particularly institutions of higher education, in a place of confusion, anger and uncertainty. Heather Heyer, killed during the violence that erupted, was a former student at Piedmont Virginia Community College and believed in the community college mission to give everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. Everyone.

Here at Virginia Western, we are a forward-thinking community college inspiring individual, community, and economic transformation. Let me repeat: forward-thinking. The racially motivated attacks in Charlottesville – both verbal and physical – are the clear opposite of everything for which we stand. I am deeply saddened by what unfolded, and equally angered at the fact that, in 2017, we are still facing these divisive attitudes. One of our core values is Diversity – promoting a culture and practice of inclusion and empowerment. To all our faculty, staff and students, let me be clear. You are ALL welcome. You are ALL valued. You are ALL an important part of our past, current and future success. We find our greatest strengths in our unique perspectives.

Virginia Western will continue to be forward-thinking, embracing our purpose through inclusion and the strength of our diversity.

Virginia Western dual-enrolled students receive prestigious Governor’s Medallion for earning degrees while in high school

Virginia Western Community College announces that a record-setting nine dual-enrolled students were awarded the Governor’s Medallion this year for earning their Associate’s Degree or General Education Certificate while still in high school. Numerous other dual-enrolled high school graduates received Virginia Western career studies certificates in various fields.


Governor’s Medallions are awarded to high school graduates who have proven academic excellence by simultaneously earning a high school degree and an Associate’s Degree or General Education Certificate at a Virginia community college. Students who receive this award are able to wear the medallion during their high school graduations as well as during their college commencement ceremonies.


Virginia Western students who earned their Associate’s Degrees and the Governor’s Medallion in 2017 include: Chloe Amala Pusha, Northside High School Lauren Hall, Northside; Sydney Gordon, James River High School; Kaelyn “Katie” Dooley, Lord Botetourt High School; Erin Bohannon, Lord Botetourt; Robert Wampler III, Northside; Lauren Cook, William Byrd High School; Brenna Harman, Cave Spring High School; and Jack Diviney, home schooled.


“I would highly recommend the program, even if the student isn’t sure they want to follow it through to completion,” said Wampler, who plans to study Engineering at Virginia Tech. “The program is a great opportunity to really push yourself and see what you’re capable of.”


High school students who choose to dual-enroll through Virginia Western have the opportunity to get ahead on their college education, gain valuable experience and save money. While taking college credits as a high school student is challenging, it is also rewarding.


“It is such a fulfilling experience for someone who is passionate about learning, but it requires dedication and sacrifice,” said Gordon, who will be attending James Madison University with plans to go on to a Doctorate in Audiology. “You will meet so many new people and make great memories along the way.”


Photo ID from left: Lauren Hall, Northside; Chloe Pusha, Northside; Robert Wampler III, Northside; Dr. Robert Sandel, President VWCC; Dr. Kathryn Beard, VWCC Dual Enrollment Coordinator; Sydney Gordon, James River; Katie Dooley, Lord Botetourt; Erin Bohannon, Lord Botetourt.