Virginia Western Educational Foundation’s new workforce credentials scholarships help non-credit students seeking employment

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation has awarded its new Workforce Credentials Scholarship to the first two recipients. Marvin E. Jennings of Boones Mill and Harold A. Young of Roanoke recently received financial assistance in pursuing certification in the College’s Industrial Maintenance Technician (IMT) Program.

The Workforce Credentials Scholarship, established in 2014, is designed to support Virginia Western students seeking non-credit, industry-recognized credentials in fields such as welding and maintenance, mechanical systems, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, and electrical control systems. Students engaged in non-credit coursework are not eligible for federal financial aid.

“With this scholarship, we are addressing a growing need for students who want to pursue credentials yet face significant financial obstacles,” said Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, executive director of the Educational Foundation and Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Virginia Western. “We are supporting a statewide effort to increase noncredit opportunities for students.”

The Workforce Credentials Scholarship will support educational assistance such as tuition, books and fees for students facing life circumstances that affect their ability to fund their education. Applicants encouraged to apply are: workers who have been laid off or lost their jobs for reasons other than misconduct; military personnel discharged honorably; those who are unemployed or underemployed; those who are unemployed due to a medical condition or disability; and independent business owners.

“Without the funding provided, I would remain unemployed ‑ at best, underemployed,” said Jennings, an honorably discharged infantryman. “With this funding I will be able to complete IMT training and obtain employment in the field of industrial maintenance. The funds will create life opportunities previously unavailable to me.”

Young was laid off after being employed at ITT Exelis for 15 years. During his search for a new career he discovered he needed new skillsets and credentials.  The scholarship helped help Young pay for class supplies.

“I’m currently exceeding expectations and I feel very confident that, once I complete my Industrial Maintenance Technician certification, I will be able to add significant value to an employer,” Young said.

The Workforce Credentials Scholarships will be available year-round. For more information, contact one of Virginia Western Community College’s Career Transition coaches:  Deb Squire, (540) 857-6296, dsquire@virginiawestern.edu; or Amanda Decker, (540) 857-6279, adecker@virginiawestern.edu.

Posted on February 27, 2015 in Campus News, Educational Foundation | Permalink

Richard J. Gaynor Memorial Scholarship to honor service of Virginia Western professor

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation has established a new scholarship fund, The Richard J. Gaynor Memorial Scholarship, in honor of Richard (Rich) Gaynor, a professor of mental health technology from Salem who loyally served the College for 33 years and passed away Feb. 12.

Created through an initial gift of $10,000 by family members, the Gaynor scholarship will provide assistance for tuition, books and other related expenses to students enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester in a program of study with a cumulative 2.5 grade point average. Students may apply beginning March 2 for fall 2015 scholarships at virginiawestern.edu/foundation/scholarship.

Gaynor joined the faculty at Virginia Western in September 1977. During his time at the College he served as the assistant dean for the Social Sciences division and as the program head for the Human Services program. He taught a variety of classes for that program, and was named Virginia Western’s Faculty Marshal for 2011, retiring that same year.

Gaynor “truly was the heart of the Human Services program for the many years that he served the program and its students,” said Dr. Annette Chamberlin, program head for Social Sciences. “His students did not just respect him, they adored him, and they would do anything to earn his respect in return.  It was a sad day for the College when he retired, and it is an even sadder day today to know that we have lost one of the most brilliant professors we have ever had in Human Services.”

Gaynor received his bachelor’s in psychology from Christopher Newport College, his master’s in clinical psychology from Radford University, and his master’s in educational counseling from Radford University.

In 1993, Gaynor was honored with the Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor award. This award is designed to recognize teaching excellence and to provide the recipient with the opportunity to pursue a special project. He used this award to establish a partnership with Radford University to offer a bachelor’s of social work on the Virginia Western campus.

Dr. Jim Sargent, former dean of Health and Human Services and Gaynor’s supervisor and colleague, praised Gaynor as “an innovator, always working to integrate technology into the classroom as well as to improve his teaching skills.

“Roanoke Valley employers prized students from Virginia Western’s Health and Human Services program over those graduating from four-year colleges and universities,” Sargent said. “That is a fine testament to Rich Gaynor, the quality of his teaching, his advising and counseling of students, and his fellow faculty members.”

In addition to dedication to his family and his work at Virginia Western, Gaynor maintained a private counseling service, helped start two free medical clinics, and enjoyed camping, hiking, golf and photography.

Gaynor’s colleagues were also his golfing buddies, and touted his exploits on the golf course.

Dr. Gary Dent, professor of history, said Gaynor “was an excellent mentor, always on the cutting edge of technology.  The times and memories I will always treasure, however, are those as friend and golf partner.

“Once, when I was just starting out in golf, Rich hit his ball into a sand trap,” Dent recalled.  “He told me this would be an excellent opportunity to show me how to get out of the sand and onto the green.  He unintentionally hit his ball out of the trap all the way over the green and into the trap on the other side.  He then headed over to his ball and hit it back into the same trap he was in originally. I told him, ‘I think I am getting the idea.’  We laughed about that many times.”

Donations can be mailed to The Richard J. Gaynor Memorial Scholarship, c/o VWCC Education Foundation Inc., 3093 Colonial Ave., Roanoke, VA 24015. To contribute online, visit http://goo.gl/DYIMoc. For more information, contact the Educational Foundation at (540) 857-6281.

Posted on February 19, 2015 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western to launch Medical Laboratory Technology program

Virginia Western Community College announces the launch of a Medical Laboratory Technology program in the Fall Semester 2015. The program will fill a growing need in the Roanoke Region’s thriving healthcare industry and provide students opportunities to begin strong careers in the medical field.

The application period is now open for Medical Laboratory Technology, which will lead to students earning an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science. Coursework will take place on Virginia Western’s campus while clinical labs will be held at Carilion Clinic and Lewis-Gale Medical Center. Based upon clinical sites, it is anticipated the first class will consist of 20 students. For information on how to apply, students are encouraged to call: (540) 857-7306.

“Our partners in healthcare have related the need for well-trained medical laboratory technicians and we are thrilled this program to fill that need,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wilmer, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “It will also provide students a chance to start in the medical field with salaries upwards of $40,000 per year, or to continue on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree and become Medical Laboratory Scientists.”

MLTs typically work in hospital clinical laboratories or private clinical laboratories and perform complex lab testing that allows physicians and other healthcare workers to properly diagnose and monitor patient diseases. Clinical lab personnel also play a role in monitoring drug therapy, and finding the cause of chemical poisoning. The clinical lab consists of four main components: hematology, clinical chemistry, transfusion medicine and clinical microbiology/virology/parasitology. Personnel may choose to work in one area, or can rotate through each area.

“As part of Virginia Western’s MLT program, our students can also obtain a Career Studies Certificate in Biotechnology,” said Carole Graham, Dean of Health Professions. “This will give them a leg up in the job market and the expertise to be proficient in whatever clinical setting is the best fit.”

The MLT program is particularly suited to students with a strong science background. Graduates will perform an integral role in a healthcare team and help with the diagnosis of disease.

“I often hear from people who are interested in healthcare, but are not inclined to enjoy close patient contact,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gillette, MLT Program Head. “MLT presents an opportunity for these people to help others while working in a laboratory setting.”

In addition to MLT, Virginia Western offers a wide array of health professions programs from Dental Hygiene to Nursing to Radiation Oncology. For a complete program listing, visit: http://www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/health/programs.php.

Posted on February 11, 2015 in Campus News | Permalink

Call for nominations for VWCC Distinguished Alumni Award

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 award is intended to showcase the diversity of Virginia Western graduates and their impact on the community.

The 2014 Distinguished Alumni honorees were J. David Wine (’73), a Roanoke entrepreneur and founder of Advanced Healthcare Services; and Craig S. Harris (’00), chief of police at Virginia Western Community College.

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 alumni for this award by completing a nomination form.  This form can be copied or downloaded from the College’s website at www.virginiawestern.edu/alumni.  Two letters of reference are also required.


Nominations must be received by Feb. 28, 2015.

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




Posted on January 21, 2015 in Campus News, Educational Foundation | Permalink

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