Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Progress Newsletter – Summer 2017 Issue


Don’t miss this interview (page 4) with Rachel Ambrose, Regional Program Manager for PIVA in our Region 15. Rachel discusses the partnership with Reynolds and Tyler, how the partnership got started and the outcome of the pilot year of the program. PIVA is a statewide adult education workforce development program focusing on workforce skill building that leads to industry credentials such as Certified Nurses’ Aide, Trades and Warehousing and Customer Service. Reynolds offered the first session in early 2017. This summer PIVA offered initial credential classes along with GED preparation. Another session is offered this fall.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Meet Melissa Brooks
Program Head, 
Paralegal Studies

You are a native Iowan, living on the east coast for the past ten years, what brought you here?  
I was always a small town girl with big city dreams so when the opportunity presented itself to move to the east coast I jumped at it.  After finishing my graduate degree at George Washington University in DC, I worked in Philadelphia and New York City, then moved to Richmond. Richmond is a hub for large law firms and corporations, but is small enough to live comfortably and get to know your neighbors. With the ocean and the mountains just a short car ride away, I'll never leave. 

What do you miss about Iowa? 
I miss seeing the horizon in every direction. Iowa is pretty flat so out on the open road the world feels big and wide with lots of space. You can easily drive for an hour and never see another human being. I also miss the sweet corn; nothing else comes close. 

When you are not working, what do you like to do? 
My family and I love to travel and experience different cultures. We just returned from a month long trip to Vietnam which was the first international trip for my six year old son. I'm also invested in my Church Hill community. I serve on several community boards and my husband and I are also self-professed foodies; we love the food scene in Richmond!

If you won the lottery, what would you do first? 
I think about this all the time since my commute includes several billboard advertising the lottery. I’d give most of the money away. I'd rebuild George Mason Elementary in the East End, I’d bring a state of the art childcare center to Church Hill, and find other ways to give anonymously to change people's lives.

What is the one thing you want others to know about you? 
I'm a classically trained pianist; it's my party trick. My mother made me take piano. I hated it then, the practicing, the recitals, my stern teacher who scolded me for poor posture. Now, I'm grateful I had that discipline and I continue to enjoy the payoff. Music is a mood changer. 

What is the best compliment you have ever received? 
When my son tells me I'm the best mom ever---that's probably the greatest compliment in the world.


Who is your favorite superhero and why?  
Wonder Woman would be a timely choice, but I'll take the unconventional route--my superhero is Anna Julia Haywood Cooper. Cooper was an American author, educator, sociologist, speaker and activist. She was also a woman born into slavery who went on to earn her PhD from the Sorbonne in Paris. Her story is one of resilience and perseverance and in the end she used her own power to pull others up. If that's not the definition of a superhero then I don't know what is.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Richard S. Reynolds Foundation gives $500,000 for Reynolds Honors Program




To “encourage excellence and innovative thinking in the next generation of leaders in our community,” Richard S. (Major) Reynolds recently announced a gift of $500,000 to help students in Reynolds Community College’s Honors Program pay for school and participate in experiential learning and service opportunities outside of the classroom.

“Students accepted into the Honors Program participate in more advanced, complex academic work,” said Honors faculty coordinator Dr. Ashley Bourne-Richardson. “All Honors courses share the foundational pillars of critical thinking, independent research, interdisciplinary learning, and engagement. It’s rigorous, but rewarding.” To complete the Honors Program and earn an Honors certification on their diploma, students must complete 18-21 credits in designated Honors courses.

The availability of scholarships greatly influences the ability of participants to fully engage in the program and succeed academically. Honor students have approximately the same level of unmet financial need as their peers. 62 percent have applied for financial aid and 67 percent report working at least a part-time job while in school.

The half-million dollar gift to the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Educational Foundation establishes the Reynolds Family Honors Scholars and provides precious scholarship dollars for an annual cohort of recipients. “Our college is named for a beloved public servant who championed access to higher education,” said Gary L. Rhodes, president of Reynolds Community College. “With this investment, our students can explore and apply on and off campus those ideals of scholarship and service. This gift from the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation is another example of the financial and moral support shown for our college by the Reynolds Family, and we’re honored to receive it,” said President Rhodes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Renee Comstock honored as Culinary Student of the Year at Elby Awards




The sixth annual Elby Awards, sponsored by Richmond Magazine, and named for renowned French chef and Richmonder Paul Elbling, were awarded on Sunday evening, February 19 at the Altria Theater.     

Reynolds student Renee Comstock was named one of two Culinary Students of the Year at the event. We recently sat down with her to discuss the award and her time at Reynolds:

Congratulations on your Elby Award! When do you plan to finish your studies at Reynolds?

I hope to graduate in December 2017.

Tell me about your experience at the Elby Awards.  Was it your first time attending?

I worked at Elby event last year. I am always quick to volunteer to work at community events because it’s good practice and helps me meet other people in the food industry. The Elbys is always a great event for “food” people. I knew in advance I had been selected for the award this year and was truly honored.

What was your favorite class at Reynolds, and why?

I have liked them all!  As far as the actual cooking classes, I find that they get better as you go along, and each one is better than the one before. The academic courses are important for learning the business side of the industry.

How did you get interested in the culinary field?

It’s funny that everyone asks me that.  I didn’t grow up in one of those “cooking” families. I went to Radford University to study social work.  I realized that I was on the wrong track and that I wanted a career working with my hands, something that was creative in nature.  I actually discovered my love of food and cooking during my time in Radford.

What key training or experience allowed you to separate yourself from the other students that were nominated for the award?

I have been told it was three things – my academics, my performance in the kitchen over the last year as far as my skill level, and my positive attitude. I am one of those people who perform well under pressure.

How has Reynolds helped you accomplish your dreams of working in the culinary field?

I spent time researching and trying to decide on a culinary program and a friend recommended the Reynolds program to me. I have found it to be affordable, a top notch education with professors who are truly invested in their students.

What would be your advice for someone looking at going into the culinary field?

I would definitely recommend this program.  I’m sorry I won’t be here when the new culinary building is completed.  It’s not just about the food, it’s the people and the affordability, too.

If you could only have one last meal in Richmond, where would it be and what would you order?

I have to give you two answers. I’m a sandwich lover, so for a sandwich I would go to Union Market in Church Hill and order the Chicken Tarragon sandwich with Potato Salad. For a meal, I would pick Edo Squid and order the Squid Genovese with Spaghetti.

What opportunities are you currently exploring?

I’m thinking about applying to serve my internship at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs which will hopefully lead to an employment opportunity.  My long term goal is to be an executive chef and run my own kitchen someday.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Author Kristen Green speaks at Reynolds



It was practically standing room only last Thursday evening when local award-winning author Kristen Green discussed her book, Something Must be Done about Prince Edward County.   



Her book tells the story of a Virginia community that defied the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling.  When ordered by a Federal Court to desegregate the public schools in 1959, white leaders in Prince Edward County instead chose to close them.  The public schools would remain shut for five years, depriving hundreds of black children – and some white children – of an education.

The author, who grew up in Prince Edward County, shared how she explored her own past while researching her book.  Attendees at the book event reported feeling inspired by Ms. Green’s talk, learning something about a painful side of Virginia’s past as she mixed history and current events.  At the conclusion of the program, a long line formed in the lobby to get copies of the book autographed.



Prior to her talk in Lipman Auditorium, selected students from the Advance College Academy and their teachers, along with students from a variety of Reynolds’ classes, had a chance to dine with the author and ask questions that they had prepared based on their reading of Green’s book.