CDL program boasts 86 percent job placement rate for year

Virginia Western Community College announces that through its partnership with CDS Tractor Trailer Training, 251 students graduated and received a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in 2015 with a job placement rate of 86 percent. As the shortage of truck drivers continues to grow nationally, Virginia Western and CDS plan to maintain their partnership and expand opportunities for future students.

According to an analysis by the American Trucking Association released in October 2015, the trucking industry was short about 38,000 drivers in 2014 and was expected to be short nearly 48,000 by the end of 2015. If the current trend holds, the shortage may balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024.

The CDL program at Virginia Western consists of 160 hours of classroom and hands-on training to prepare students to work in the industry. The priority is to help students earn their license and become employed. There are currently 10 to 15 companies that recruit with CDS onsite each month, and there is a network of more than 100 companies to place student in local, regional or over the road opportunities.

“I’m happy I was a part of this program,” said Leonard Casey, a recent graduate. “It helped me line up a great job that wouldn’t have been possible before.”

More than 75 percent of the 281 students who enrolled in in the CDL program in 2015 graduated and received a Class A License. That level of success is a testament to the strong curriculum.

“The students who come through this program are well-prepared to join this high-demand industry,” said Dan Semones, program coordinator in Virginia Western’s Workforce Solutions. “CDS Tractor Trailer Training has the experienced instructors who can help students earn the credentials they need to get ahead and earn a great salary.”

Individuals interested in the CDL program are encouraged to contact Crystal Kennedy at (540) 857-6188 or ckennedy@virginiawestern.edu.

Posted on December 15, 2015 in Campus News | Permalink

Virginia Western student finds strong motivation

Bench. Deadlift. Squat. That’s Devvin Guzman’s world right now. The 20-year-old Virginia Western Community College student from Hardy, will be focused on those three events on Jan. 16 at the United States Powerlifting Association Raleigh Ruckus competition in Raleigh, N.C. For Devvin, his first powerlifting competition has been a major goal and the Raleigh Ruckus is the culmination of several years of intense training.

Powerlifting is the concept of building strength, which is different than focusing on the look of visible muscle through bodybuilding. Initially, Devvin was motivated to work out to improve what he calls a skinny, scrawny physical appearance. Then, he was introduced to powerlifting and something clicked. “I fell in love with powerlifting because it is more impressive to see a smaller guy lifting a lot more than a big guy,” he says.

A powerlifting competition consists of three categories of strength performance: bench, deadlift and squat. Competitors are divided into competing classes by age and weight. Points are based on a cumulative score of how much is lifted. At 155 pounds, Devvin’s personal goals at competition are to bench 240 pounds, deadlift 375 pounds and squat 400 pounds.

Devvin’s journey began at Franklin County High School when he was first introduced to working out through Matt Foutz’s Strength and Conditioning class. Devvin says he obtained a good foundation for weight training and learned the importance of proper form to prevent injury. He also credits watching many videos on YouTube, which have helped him teach himself and stay motivated. “Motivation is the key,” he says. Many of Devvin’s friends at Franklin County lost motivation and did not continue training once the class ended. He says he felt the challenge of staying motivated too, yet persisted and kept going to the gym.

Devvin quickly realized he felt good working out and appreciated the mental benefits of exercise. Around the same time he became passionate about working out, he also gained insight into his family’s history and health. He learned that his previously estranged father was coincidentally interested in weightlifting, and that his father’s side of the family has an incredibly strong predisposition to diabetes. Devvin’s father, all of his father’s six siblings and his grandparents have diabetes. Devvin hopes staying physically healthy through diet and exercise will help him defeat the odds of contracting the disease. “Everything I’ve learned thus far about the science of exercise and nutrition is influencing my workout in the gym,” Devvin says.

During his time at Virginia Western, a self-professed introvert, Devvin says he has found his voice and learned how much he enjoys talking to people and sharing his knowledge and passion for the body. He’s made many great friends and says the faculty has been amazing. He has decided to pursue a degree in Exercise Science with a focus on Personal Training. “What intrigues me,” he says, “is the body. It’s the greatest thing and we all take it for granted.”

Devvin speaks with passion regarding unhealthy people shortening their lifespan, the importance of keeping people healthy today and of the long-term impact health has on future generations. He hopes to one day obtain a master's degree in kinesiology - the study of the movement of the body.

When it comes to exercise advice for others, Devvin suggests people find what motivates them and meet others doing what they are interested in. If it’s powerlifting, he says, take a strength and conditioning class, come see him or meet other power lifters, and know that getting to where you want to be will take time. As for school, he says going from high school to college was a big culture shock. Getting around campus is actually quite easy and the buildings and people are great. For him, the motivation to go to school was one of fear and a deep desire to one day be able to provide for himself and maybe a family without struggle. Right now, he is focused on going to school, passing his classes, working and studying hard.

Even though Devvin has been on a powerlifting journey for several years, it seems it is just unfolding to other levels. His biggest goal is to compete one day in the USA Powerlifting Arnold Sports Festival, an Arnold Schwarzenegger event which attracts international competitors. This January, Devvin will travel to compete along with two great friends he made through his initial strength and conditioning class and who are also current Virginia Western students, Mitchell Quinn and Kyle Grindstaff. Best wishes to all of them.







Posted on December 14, 2015 in Campus News | Permalink

New initiative provides financial assistance for non-credit career and technical programs

Virginia Western Community College announces a new initiative that provides financial assistance for students enrolling in career and technical education (CTE) programs leading to industry credentials or licenses. Financial Assistance for Noncredit Training leading to Industry Credentials (FANTIC) is a pilot program through Virginia Western’s Workforce Solutions that is now accepting applications from students who wish to pursue high-demand occupations.

FANTIC will cover the cost of tuition and industry testing for students who would not otherwise be able to receive financial aid. In the past, non-credit CTE or workforce programs have not been eligible for financial aid or funding. This new initiative, led by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), seeks to address that issue and help drive the Commonwealth’s economy through an educated workforce. Virginia Western hopes to serve 144 students in achieving more than 200 credentials with the $200,000 one-year pilot program.

“Virginia Western is a key driver of the economy in the Roanoke Region and we focus on filling the workforce needs that are specific to our industries,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “This new funding will have a tremendous impact on our ability to train students who otherwise would be left behind. They will earn industry-recognized credentials that will lead to solid, high-paying careers.”

Among the programs of study being considered for FANTIC funding at Virginia Western are: Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), Industrial Maintenance, Pharmacy Technician, Medication Aide, Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, Basic Manufacturing, Welding, Certified Nursing Assistant and Certified Billing and Coding Specialist. Spring semester begins Jan. 11 and students can register for classes at www.virginiawestern.edu.

FANTIC funding for students is a competitive process. Students must meet income and program eligibility deadlines and submit an application through Virginia Western’s Workforce Solutions. Support is based on eligibility and available funds. For more information on criteria for FANTIC funding, contact Amanda Decker at adecker@virginiawestern.edu or 540-857-6279.

Posted on November 12, 2015 in Campus News | Permalink

Local Board member Jones awarded statewide honor for exemplary service

Virginia Western Community College announces that Forest G. Jones has been honored with the State Board for Community Colleges’ 2015 Chairman’s Award for College Board Member Exemplary Service. Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, presented the award to Jones at a recent system-wide retreat in Roanoke. Jones is currently the Immediate Past Chairman of the Virginia Western Community College Local Advisory Board, which he joined in 2008 and which he chaired from 2012-14.

“Forest has made a tremendous impact on Virginia Western and our students’ lives during his service on the Virginia Western Community College Local Advisory Board,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Among his numerous achievements, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Community College Access Program (CCAP) in Salem City.”

Jones’ support and dedication to CCAP grew from his career in education and public service in Salem. He began as a math teacher and coach in Campbell County Public Schools, and also served the school system as a principal and assistant principal before becoming Director of Administrative Services for Salem City Public Schools from 1982-1987. Jones served as Salem’s Assistant City Manager from 1987-2000 and as City Manager from 2000-2008.

CCAP, which provides tuition funding at Virginia Western for up to two years for area high school graduates who meet program requirements, began with Salem High School in 2008. Since that time, with the assistance of Jones and the Local Advisory Board, the Virginia Western Educational Foundation and its Board of Directors has expanded CCAP to cover all of Virginia Western’s service region.

“Mr. Jones’ support translated into providing students with the opportunity to attend Virginia Western tuition-free,” said J. Kenneth Randolph, President of the Virginia Western Educational Foundation’s Board of Directors. “CCAP served, in 2014 alone, approximately 464 full-time students. The Educational Foundation in December of 2014 received over $5 million for CCAP alone.”

In addition to CCAP, Jones supported the construction of what is now recognized as The Horace G. and Anne H. Fralin Center for Science and Health Professions and the newly renovated Student Life Center. He advocated for the health professions as the primary employment and economic driver for the Roanoke region and the Student Life Center as a hub for student life, engagement, and in turn, retention.

“I know Mr. Jones to be a highly intelligent, talented, dedicated, and kind individual who is committed to the growth and economic development of the Roanoke region,” said Gerald Burgess, Chairman of the Local Advisory Board. “Mr. Jones is convinced that Virginia Western is the primary economic driver for the region. Through participation in numerous local and statewide Boards, Mr. Jones increased awareness of the mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges as economic engines and mobilized the College’s mission as such.”

After many years of working with Jones in Salem and on the Local Advisory Board, James W. McAden, President of Balzer and Associates and Past President of the Salem Rotary Club said, “As an exemplary leader, Mr. Jones strongly believed that the Board members maintained the responsibility to represent the College in the form of ambassadors throughout the College’s service district.”

Completing post-graduate work at Virginia Tech in Administration and additional graduate work at the University of Virginia and William & Mary College, Jones received his Bachelor’s in Math from Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. and Master’s in Math and Science from Randolph College in Lynchburg.

Married to Betty C. Jones, a retired reading teacher at South Salem Elementary School, for 41 years, Jones is the father of Forest Jones Jr., the principal at Andrew Lewis Middle School and Anton Jones, a teacher at Salem High School.

Posted on November 9, 2015 in Campus News | Permalink

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