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Educational Foundation awards Innovation Grants

The Virginia Western Educational Foundation awarded nearly $24,000 to six Virginia Western faculty and staff members to support innovative initiatives designed to positively impact student success and advance novel ideas. 

This year’s awardees received between $500-$7,200 apiece to fund their initiatives. The Educational Foundation’s Innovation Grant program has awarded 52 grants totaling more than $250,000 in the past decade.

This year’s winning projects are as varied as the curriculum at Virginia Western. One grant will purchase more microscopes and slides for a STEM lab; another will enable outreach and collaboration between the College and Northwest Roanoke in an effort to attract more students from that area.

“We’re always looking for bright ideas and creativity in action,” said Marilyn Herbert-Ashton, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “We are pleased that the funds will go to address real needs and enhance student success.”

The Innovation Grant program is funded by donors to the Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the College. The program’s growth is the result of a concentrated effort to create awareness of the funds available and educate faculty and staff on the opportunities, steps to apply, and evaluating the overall application process with staff to make improvements the following year.

The investment made by the Foundation is much greater than microscopes and slides or other project materials, according to Edwin “Ed” Hall, Chair of the Foundation’s Scholarship and Grants Committee.

“The goal of the Foundation is to attract really good faculty and improve education to the highest level possible so our students are employable,” said Hall. “We’re focused on the long-term growth of the individual student as well as our community, and these grants provide a means for us to continue delivering on that.”

Applications for 2021-22 funding will be available in December, and proposals are due in March. All faculty and staff are eligible to submit proposals.

For more information, contact Carolyn Payne, Scholarship Coordinator, at cpayne@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6376.

2020-21 Innovation Grant Recipients

Proposal NameProject DescriptionAwardee/DeptAmount Awarded
Alleviating Barriers for Adult Learners Through Portfolio AssessmentProject phase 1 creates an innovative and more consistent credit for prior learning program for adult learners through portfolio development, assessment and evaluation. Professional development will educate us on how to engage key players, administer processes, create a pipeline of faculty evaluators, and outreach to students.Cathy Ferguson, School of CCT$5,000
Microscopes and Slides for STEM CenterThe primary goal of this project is to obtain microscopes and slides for the STEM center. Students will have greater access to microscopes in which they can utilize to enhance their technique and study for Biology laboratory exams.Matthew Goff, School of STEM$7,242
VWCC/Northwest Collaborative: United for ImpactTo increase the footprint of Virginia Western in Northwest Roanoke through collaboration with neighborhood, nonprofits and grassroots organizations which promote health, education and training and community development.Cheryl Hilton, TRIO Pathways$5,000
Accelerating the Automotive Technology PathwayIncrease students in BTT’s Automotive Analysis & Repair CSC courses. Expand program capacity, increase opportunity for new course development in automotive technology and support new automotive course partnerships focused on new English language learners.Wil Preston, School of CCT$3,000
Improv for Creative Teaching and LearningHelp foster a more creative culture at Virginia Western — ultimately improving the student learning experience — by providing an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn the basic techniques of improv theater.Stephanie Seagle, Institutional Advancement$500
Expanding Machining Program CapacityRestructure teaching space to create two dedicated teaching areas for the Machining Lab at the current Melrose campus, rearrange the machine shop layout to group machines to match the curriculum of the classes (Fundamentals, Milling, Turning and CNC Programming). We will also consolidate the former Industrial Maintenance lab equipment with newly purchased Mechatronics Fundamentals equipment into the STEM building for our partnership with the Mechatronics academic program.Bryan Walke, School of CCT$2,700

Virginia Western presents 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award to Tony Pearman

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation recognizes Tony Pearman (’10), President and CEO of Access Advertising and Public Relations, with its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.  Pearman first attended Virginia Western in 1998, later returning for additional coursework in 2008 and 2010. 

Virginia Western’s Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2006 by the Virginia Western Alumni Association and recognizes Virginia Western Community College alumni and former students who have attained extraordinary distinction in their professional field or life. The award serves to honor all the men and women whose attendance at Virginia Western helped them achieve their educational and professional goals, allowing them to better serve their communities.

Pearman and colleague Todd Marcum formed Access Advertising & Public Relations in 1996. Since its founding, the agency has grown to serve clients throughout the Eastern United States and around the globe, and boasts more than 450 design and public relations awards for excellence. Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., with an office in Richmond, Access specializes in regional and national industry relationships that include focused work in healthcare, higher education and business-to-business. Among its clients are HCA Virginia, Virginia Tech, Marshall University, TMEIC, Optical Cable Corp., American General Life & Accident Insurance Co. and Medeco High Security Locks.

Access has been recognized with national Healthcare Advertising Awards, Cannonballs from The Richmond Show, Telly Awards, hundreds of local, regional and national ADDY Awards, CASE awards for work in higher education and Summit Awards from the Public Relations Society of America.

As a leading industry advocate for creative idea generation and impact, Pearman has served as chair of the National ADDY Committee, is a member of the national AAF Board of Directors, and is the recipient of the AAF Silver Medal for lifetime contributions to the advertising industry. Pearman has received both the Advertising Person of the Year award and the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal.

“Tony’s story illustrates the best outcomes of community college opportunity. His accomplishments and service have impacted so many lives – and his dedication to the success of our students is tremendous. We are honored and proud to recognize him as a Distinguished Alumni,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western Community College.

Through philanthropic and pro bono work that supports the community it serves, Access has been recognized for its impact in child abuse prevention, with the Roanoke City Police Department, the YCMA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and others. In 2006, Access became the first advertising and PR firm to be recognized with a Perry F. Kendig Award for its support of the arts.

“Virginia Western has been a trusted source of learning for myself, and for many members of my firm, for more than 20 years by not only providing ongoing continuing education but also producing some of Access’ and this region’s most talented marketers,” said Pearman. “As one of our strongest client relationships, Access has been proud to give back to Virginia Western by working to support the vital resources they provide for our community.”

Pearman continues to support Virginia Western student success and achievement through the Pearman Annual Scholarship, which provides assistance for tuition, books and other related expenses to second-year students enrolled in the College’s Visual Design Program on a full- or part-time basis.  Heavy emphasis in the award process is placed on the merit of the student’s portfolio, which receives evaluation by Virginia Western faculty.  Pearman has also dedicated focus and energy to higher education as an advertising and design adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech.

For more information on the Virginia Western Alumni Association, see virginiawestern.edu/alumni or contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.

Prior Distinguished Alumni honorees: 

2019 – Deborah L. Petrine (’76)

2018 – Elizabeth Testerman (’06)

2017 – Dr. Carol Swain (’78)

2016 – Dr. Mary Loritsch (’74) and Chief Michael Crawley

2015 – Debbie Yancey (’97)

2014 – Chief Craig S. Harris (’00) and 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)

Virginia Western presents 2020 Community College Impact Award to Kroger

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation presented the 2020 Community College Impact Award to Kroger, in recognition of its monetary and gift in-kind support to advance the fight against student food insecurity. The award was to have been presented publicly on March 25, 2020, at the Educational Foundation’s Annual Scholarship and Awards Ceremony, which was cancelled in accordance with measures to support public health and safety.  The Educational Foundation is pleased to share the announcement today.

One of the highest honors the College can bestow, the Community College Impact Award serves to recognize significant philanthropic and community support by individuals, corporations or organizations that will provide perpetuating benefits for Virginia Western, its students and the region at large.

Virginia Western Community College dedicated the Virginia Western Student Co-op, fueled by Kroger in September 2019 in recognition of Kroger’s visionary stance in fighting student hunger, and for their collaborative support in bringing additional partner Kraft Heinz to join the venture. Pioneering the Co-op was the first initiative of its kind at a community college for both national organizations, and is a result of the focus held by Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Plan.

With its roots as a food pantry supported by faculty, staff and student donations, the expanded Student Co-Op’s impact has already served nearly 300 students in more than 1,500 individual visits with access to high-quality, healthy foods at no cost to help them succeed in their studies. 

“Hunger has many faces.  While Virginia’s Community Colleges are proud to provide affordable, high-quality education, it is estimated that, despite the savings we offer, as many as 50 percent of Virginia’s community college students still suffer from food insecurity,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “That means instead of concentrating on their studies, these students are focusing on decisions they shouldn’t have to make – cutting the size of meals or skipping meals because there isn’t enough money for food.  Thanks to the untiring efforts and support of Kroger, we are eliminating this roadblock to success.  It is our privilege to present Virginia Western’s 2020 Community Impact Award to Kroger.”

Kroger’s initial gift of $10,000 turned what was before just a few shelves of food into a complete food pantry that now fills an entire office in the College’s Student Life Center, complete with fresh paint and signage. The Student Co-Op also benefited from Kroger-donated shelving, reusable cinch sack food bags and reusable water bottles.  Ongoing food purchasing continues.

Kroger executive David Dantzler, a former and current Educational Foundation Board of Directors member, worked tirelessly to bring the Student Co-Op to fruition, meeting with food pantry experts and nutritionists to help develop a process and inventory to meet students’ needs.

“People don’t always consider college students when thinking of groups who face hunger, but many of these students are food insecure,” said Dantzler at the Co-op Grand Opening. “Establishing new partnerships and finding creative ways to solve hunger in the community is the spirit of our Zero Hunger Zero Waste commitment. We’re proud to bring food to Virginia Western Community College students who are struggling to find their next meal.”

For more information about the Foundation’s annual Community Impact Award or the Virginia Western Student Co-op, fueled by Kroger, contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.

Educational Foundation announces Spring scholarship recipients

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation announces that it awarded $137,395 in scholarships to 83 students enrolled in the Spring Semester 2020 at Virginia Western Community College.

Applications are being accepted for Fall Semester 2020 scholarships through May 3, 2020. Students are eligible for awards that range from $500 to full tuition support or assistance with book expenses. Applicants fill out one online application; learn more at https://www.virginiawestern.edu/scholarship/. Virginia Western’s Fall Semester begins on August 24, 2020.

RecipientLocalitySpring 2020 Award(s)
Carstella OsborneAlleghany CountyFriendship Annual Scholarship
Sydney DawsonAmelia CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Raegan GlennAugusta CountyOrrin Clifton Annual Scholarship & Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation Endowed Scholarship
Kaylee PitsenbargerAugusta CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Brandon CampbellBedford CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Scott CampbellBedford CountyAppalachian Power Endowed Scholarship & Stanard and Betty Lanford Endowed Scholarship
Rachel CarrickBedford CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Courtney ConnerBedford CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Kayla JamersonBedford CountyAlice Becker Hinchcliffe Williams Endowed Scholarship
Jesica MartinBedford CountyEducational Foundation General Scholarship
Kris HarperBotetourt CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Rachel KickuthBotetourt CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Thomas McGrathBotetourt CountyFralin & Waldron, Inc. Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Craig E. Via
Alec RichBotetourt CountyWilliam Bernard Alphin Annual Scholarship
Allison SmithBotetourt CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Laura MontemurroChesterfield CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Michael WhittakerFloyd CountyAl Pollard Memorial Foundation Chefs’ Competition Annual Scholarship
Michael AnthonyFranklin CountyBridging the Gap Endowed Scholarship & Garnett E. and Patsy T. Smith Endowed Scholarship
Brianna BrownFranklin CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Autum FoleyFranklin CountyThe Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship
Taylor KiddFranklin CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Laura LivingstonFranklin CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Kelsey McPhersonFranklin CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship & Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Deana ValadeFranklin CountyMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Kyndal GunterHalifax CountyLewisGale Medical Center Endowed Scholarship & Rita Halsey David Radiography Endowed Scholarship
Jacqueline Machuca TiznadoMartinsvilleRefugee and Immigrant Scholarship
Amanda ChrisleyMontgomery CountyAl Pollard Memorial Annual Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Tori KingMontgomery CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Tyler NibblettPittsylvania CountyAlice Becker Hinchcliffe Williams Endowed Scholarship
Antoinette MacklinRichmond CityEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Kimberly ArcherRoanoke CityMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Scott BowmanRoanoke CityBusiness, Technology & Trades Annual Scholarship in honor of Deborah A. Yancey
Amber BrownRoanoke CityMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Vanessa DeesRoanoke CityBB&T Endowed Scholarship
Kirstin DeVoeRoanoke CityWalter Darnall Vinyard Endowed Scholarship
Ethan ExlineRoanoke CityRoanoke Electric Steel Corporation Endowed Scholarship
Caleb GibneyRoanoke CityMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
William HobbsRoanoke CityDolores Martin Skelly Endowed Scholarship & The Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship
Elsa LedyardRoanoke CityEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship & Pearman Annual Scholarship
Ebony Lynch-ThomasRoanoke CityFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Sabin MainaliRoanoke CityThe Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship
Harvey MurdochRoanoke CityDonald Willson Memorial Scholarship
Nargis NoorzadRoanoke CityRefugee and Immigrant Scholarship
Lauren OliveiraRoanoke CityDr. Donna Harpold Memorial Annual Scholarship
Reba PickeralRoanoke CityAl Pollard Memorial Annual Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Teri RobinsonRoanoke CityBank of Botetourt H. Watts Steger, III Annual Scholarship
Jamie SieversRoanoke CityMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship & Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Meghan SizemoreRoanoke CityEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Locene YarmahRoanoke CityDr. J. Andrew Archer Memorial Annual Scholarship
Devin AgostoRoanoke CountyAl Pollard Memorial Foundation Chefs’ Competition Annual Scholarship
Grey AlphinRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship & Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Katie BechtoldRoanoke CountyFralin & Waldron, Inc. Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Craig E. Via & Stanard and Betty Lanford Endowed Scholarship
Michayla BelcherRoanoke CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Tanner BrammerRoanoke CountyBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Noah CollinsRoanoke CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Christina ConstableRoanoke CountyVFCCE Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Rachel DavisRoanoke CountyAlumni Association Annual Book Scholarship & Barry L. Pendrey Memorial Scholarship
Spencer GlowczynskiRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Jill HallRoanoke CountyValley Bank Endowed Scholarship
Andrea HarmanRoanoke CountyWalter Darnall Vinyard Endowed Scholarship
Elizabeth HollingsworthRoanoke CountyMichael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Peaceful HtooRoanoke CountyThe Elizabeth and Harry Sellers Annual Scholarship
Elisabeth HutchinsRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship & Dr. Elizabeth W. Payne Endowed Scholarship
Carson LillyRoanoke CountyJ.K. and Donna Speas Annual Scholarship
Haley MayhewRoanoke CountyMartha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Daniel NaryRoanoke CountyEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Andres Peralta MazzitelliRoanoke CountyDr. Donna Harpold Memorial Annual Scholarship
Katrin PolcuchRoanoke CountyFralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship
Brooke RakesRoanoke CountyLewisGale Medical Center Endowed Scholarship & Nursing Endowed Scholarship
Madison SaundersRoanoke CountyPetroleum Marketers, Inc. Endowed Scholarship
Laurel SheltonRoanoke CountyBeverly and Leon Harris Teaching and Nursing Annual Scholarship
Selma SosicRoanoke CountyThe Maury L. Strauss Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship
Canzaeda SoutherlandRoanoke CountyConnie Stephens May Scholarship & Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Rory UnderwoodRoanoke CountyNicholas E. Janney Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Liam WilliamsRoanoke CountyEmployee Family Scholarship
Taylor AlbaneseSalemEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship & Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Brianna BattagliaSalemLewis Gale Medical Center Endowed Scholarship
Jessica GrahamSalemFred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship
Samuel GreenSalemAl Pollard Memorial Annual Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Landon HyltonSalemFred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship & Petroleum Marketers, Inc. Endowed Scholarship
Sara HyltonSalemBeverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Daniel LemonsSalemAl Pollard Memorial Foundation Chefs’ Competition Annual Scholarship
Alexa WarmeSalemEducational Foundation Textbook Scholarship

For information on donating to or establishing a scholarship at Virginia Western, contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at (540) 857-6962 or amansfield@virginiawestern.edu.

Winners of Virginia Western Chili Cook-Off and Cookie Bake-Off announced

Congratulations to these winners of the Virginia Western Chili Cook-Off and Cookie Bake-Off. The March 9 event raised nearly $700 to benefit the Virginia Western Student Food Co-Op, Fueled by Kroger:

  • Ladles & Linens door prize: Marla Mook
  • Sweepstakes prize of 50-inch TV, donated by Kroger: Gayle Clary
  • Non-traditional chili ($25 Kroger gift card and commemorative spoon): Carole Tarrant*
  • Traditional chili ($25 Kroger gift card and commemorative spoon): Amy Anguiano
  • Hot & Spicy chili ($25 Kroger gift card and commemorative spoon): Kristen Allard
  • Cookies: Amanda Mansfield* (oatmeal, cranberry, pistachio with white chocolate drizzle)
  • Chili Fan Favorite (Instant Pot): Lora Vasiliauskas (red version)
  • Cookies Fan Favorite (Instant Pot): Katelyn Burton (chocolate-chocolate cookies with sea salt)
Gayle Clary was the winner of the Sweepstakes prize, a 50-inch TV donated by Kroger.

We had nearly a dozen chili entries and the same for cookies, with faculty, staff, students and the general public represented.

Many thanks to all of the competitors who cooked for a great cause!  And to our judges: Dr. Robert H. Sandel, Peter Stocki, Joe Stanley, Michelle Bennett, Dan Casey, Craig Harris, Kat Pascal, Gene Marrano and David Dantzler.

Remember, you always can donate directly to the Food Co-Op fund, which is managed by the Educational Foundation. Click the link below or contact Amanda Mansfield, Educational Foundation Philanthropy Director, at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu.


*Foundation staff donated the value of their gift card prizes to the Co-Op fund.

Nominations open for 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award

For many individuals, 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 award highlights the diversity of Virginia Western graduates and their impact on the community. Nominations for the 2020 award are now open.

The 2019 Distinguished Alumni honoree was Deborah L. Petrine (’74), Chair and CEO of Commonwealth Care of Roanoke and Chair of the Virginia Western Educational Foundation’s Advocacy Council forthe Virginia Western Forward Endowment Fund: A Vision of Dr. Charles W. Steger Jr.

Anne Hogan (’76), a previous honoree, serves as chairwoman of the Virginia Western Alumni Association.

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 at virginiawestern.edu/alumni/distinguished.php

Two letters of reference are also required.

Deadline: Nominations must be received by Feb. 28, 2020.

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


Dantzler, James join Educational Foundation Board

David Dantzler and Rick James have joined the Board of Directors of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation.

Dantzler is District Manager of Kroger Mid-Atlantic and a member of the Foundation’s Scholarship and Grants Committee. James is Executive Vice President of Adams Construction Company and a member Foundation’s CCAP2 Campaign Cabinet.

The volunteer Board of Directors guides the Educational Foundation’s mission of supporting student scholarships, faculty development and endowment initiatives at Virginia Western. Board members have been the driving force behind Virginia Western’s Community College Access Program (CCAP), a successful public-private partnership that provides up to three years of tuition to eligible students.

Fralin Futures scholarship recipients tour Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

Virginia Western Community College students who received the first-ever Fralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship were invited to tour the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC on Nov. 22, 2019. Executive Director Dr. Michael J. Friedlander met with the students and described the Research Institute’s target areas and the varied jobs that will support the Roanoke facility as it expands in 2020.

Research Institute doctoral students later met with the Fralin scholarship recipients and offered advice on transferring to four-year schools and pursuing doctoral degrees in research-oriented fields.

The tour was one of several cohort activities scheduled in 2019-20 for the Fralin scholarship recipients. The scholarship is administered by the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation. Applications for the 2020 scholarship cycle will be available in March 2020 at virginiawestern.edu/scholarship.

Student spotlight: Showing the courage to step off the edge

(Published in the Winter 2020 Edition of IMPACT magazine, a publication of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation.)

As a 10th-grade English teacher at Cave Spring High School, Colleen Morrison enjoys every chance to encourage and inspire her students. However, she’s noticed that some students shy away from certain career paths because they think those jobs are out of reach. Girls, especially, tend to discount careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Morrison first decided to pursue a database programming degree at Virginia Western Community College to set a good example for her students. She’s since rekindled her own love for computer-based fields, and opened up potential career paths for herself. Balancing a teacher’s workload with her studies has been challenging, but Morrison has excelled. Her hard work has been recognized with two scholarships. The Business, Technology & Trades Annual Scholarship, provided through Virginia Western, honors the legacy of late dean Deborah A. Yancey; it gives qualifying recipients $500 per semester. The Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship, provided through The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, gives qualified students $2,160.  

VW: How have the scholarships you’ve received helped you while you’re working toward this degree?

Morrison: My husband and I had some money set aside that we didn’t use for our wedding and I figured that it might as well go to good use for education. I ended up not having to pay any of it. We still have that money, which is fairly nice for things like houses and children eventually. And not only is it nice to have that extra padding, but I think it’s really neat to say that I’m going to be in this program, probably, when I become a mom.

VW: How did you become interested in the database programming degree?

Morrison: I always really, really liked working with computers when I was younger. It was just never met by much enthusiasm by anyone other than my parents because I was a girl in the South. I did almost every required science fair project we had to do with computers, and I was always kind of met with, “That’s great for a girl,” and “You’re doing an awesome job, for a girl.”

VW: Any plans for your degree when you graduate?

Morrison: I kind of like the idea of starting some sort of tech ed program or something that can encourage other girls to go do this. I think having influence on the ground floor would be really promising for women in STEM in the future.

VW: Do you have any advice for other adult learners who might want to obtain a new degree while managing a full-time job?

Morrison: If it’s something you’re interested in, there’s no harm at all in trying it out. If it’s a monetary thing, you can always audit classes and see if it’s something you might be interested in before committing to it. This ended up being one of the coolest things that I’ve gotten to do in my 27 years of life, so I think that everybody should have the confidence to try to step off the edge. 

For more information on scholarships offered by the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, go to virginiawestern.edu/scholarship. Applications for the fall 2020 scholarship cycle will be available in March 2020.