Thursday, October 12, 2017

Meet James Brown
Enrollment Services Information Specialist

Are you from Richmond or did you come here from another city and state?
I am originally from Williamsburg, Virginia. I moved to Richmond from Hampton 20 years ago.
How long have you worked for Reynolds?
I have worked at Reynolds for approximately eight years.

Have you always worked in Enrollment Services? 
I’ve always worked in Enrollment Services. First, on Parham Road in the Testing Center and currently in the Downtown Enrollment Services site.

What do you like best about working here?
It’s a cliché, but I love the interaction with people; the students, parents, faculty and staff. I have a passion for helping people and this position allows me to do it in an environment where I can possibly change the lives of those I encounter.
In your position you see lots of people and probably get asked lots of questions. What is the most memorable situation you have encountered?
There are too many good memories and a few bad, of course. But, overall each one is different in their own way. My satisfaction and best memories come when I provide students with what they need and they come back and say, “Thanks, Mr. Brown, you helped me get this or that done”.

When you are not working, what do you like to do?
I enjoy spending time with my family and sharing in their monumental events. Over the past couple of months, after the loss of my son, I try to make that a priority. I also am a sports enthusiast. I like practically all sports. I love football and basketball, especially, the college games. Lastly, listening to jazz takes me into a whole different world. I love my jazz music.  

If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
Once I’ve gotten over the excitement of winning. The amount would dictate whether or not I’d continue to work. So, I guess the first thing would be, to see if it’s enough that I could stop working and perhaps become a volunteer at Reynolds….lol.

What is the one thing you want others to know about you?
I am one of 13 children. I know you said one, but Shelby Brown of CBS News6 is my baby sister. People always say, “You didn't tell me Shelby was your sister”. To me she is a sister who happens to be a News Reporter, we are very humble family.

What is the best compliment you have ever received?
School wise, is when a student tells you that the reason they are here is because of you. But the one of the best compliments that I've gotten is when an elderly lady said to me in the parking lot of Walmart, that I had a Halo over my head. She knew that I was a child of God, just after seeing me for the first time in her life. Because I am a Christian, that really meant a lot to me.

Who is your most respected hero or heroine, and why?
My grandmother. My Dad died at the age of 42 and I was raised by a single mother who worked a great deal. So, my grandmother lived with us and helped raise us with love, sensitivity, morals, good character and standards. She was old school. So, you know what that means….you better not get out of line.

Reynolds Dedicates Mary and Jerry Owen Student Center

Reynolds Community College recently celebrated the dedication of the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center. Longtime supporters of Reynolds, Jerry and Mary Owen were honored at the event for their many and major investments to the college.
Jerry served on the Reynolds College Board from 1984 to 1988. The couple supports the college’s scholarship fund and created an endowment for the Reynolds Middle College, which helps individuals earn a high school equivalency certificate and transition into a degree or workforce credential program. In 2015, the Owens made a major gift to improve outcomes for current and future students.

“I grew up on a dairy farm and we didn’t have a lot of money. (But) we gave. We raised lots of vegetables and gave them to the people that needed them. We were always taught to give. That was a part of our lives,” noted Mary on her early lessons about philanthropy. 

Located within the newly-renovated Georgiadis Hall on Reynolds’ Parham Road Campus, the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center houses the college’s offices of Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, Veteran’s Services, Student Life, the Campus Book Store, and other student success supporting programs. The space reflects the Owens' belief that every student should receive the guidance and tools to help themselves, their family, and community succeed.

Jerry Owen, who attended the groundbreaking of the Parham Road Campus in 1973, said, “When thinking about my purpose, I come up with three lines of 7 words: Word hard, enjoy life and share my blessings. It reinforces what’s good about life. You can’t buy that kind of goodwill. The joy of living is enhanced by the joy of giving.”

As part of the dedication ceremony, guests toured the student support offices and learned what services are provided to help students successfully navigate college. “Whether it’s guidance that in choosing academic degree programs or technical careers or paying for classes – or, just helping some students get through those bumps along the way – the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center is the space where students will be heard and assisted,” explained Reynolds Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Thomas Hollins. “The Owens’ investment will continue to do what they have always done – and that is simply to help students.”

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reynolds Police Department Celebrates Safety Day and Ribs Cook-off

The Reynolds Police Department recently hosted Safety Day on the Parham Road Campus. Students, faculty and staff enjoyed a BBQ Ribs Cook-off along with a dunking booth, free vehicle identification etching and the Emergency Responders Job Fair.

As always, the BBQ Ribs Cook-off was a big hit as it pitted representatives from the Reynolds Police Department against several local first responders in the Open Division, while the college’s culinary arts students competed in the Student Division. Rib samples were available for free while supplies lasted.

“The rib cook-off is always one of the highlights of the year,” noted Reynolds Police Chief Paul Ronca. “It is a great way to engage and build relationships with local first responders and our students and is always competitively fun.”  

Henrico County Police Officer Aaron Lancaster won the Open Division, and the team of Reynolds students Ed Cary, Shakira Batts and Alex Stewart won the Student Division.

This year’s BBQ Cook-off contest might be over, but it is never too early to start preparing for the 2018 event!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

14 Days in Italy!
An Educational Experience of a Lifetime

There are lots of ways to learn, and travel is perhaps one of the best.

Just ask any of the 22 participants in Reynolds’ first Study Abroad program. The group went to Italy for fourteen days this past summer and here’s what happened: they had the educational experience of a lifetime. (See pictures below.)

Preparations for the trip involved more than packing a toothbrush and hoping on a plane. All students took an intense five week course, English 295: The American Romantics in Italy, created and taught by Reynolds Professor of English, Jane Rosecrans. The course covered 19th Century American Romantic writers, their travel to Italy, and the literature they created as a result. Additionally, Jane put together a packet of information on the language, the culture, and history designed specifically to add depth and perspective to the journey.

What does it take to make an educational experience of a lifetime? Jane will tell you: "A year of intense planning, thought and hard work." Four-year schools frequently offer these programs, but this would be a first for Reynolds, and Jane’s vision was to make it an experience of a lifetime for those who may never get this opportunity again. Guidelines and policies had to be set up. Materials had to be created. An affordable tour company had to be found that could fashion a custom tour based on Jane’s visits to Italy. And, perhaps most important, a whole new class had to be created.

Aside from the details, Jane wondered, would the group get along? Would they pull together to meet the risks and unexpected challenges of travel? This group seemed to be charmed. Participants ranged in age from 19 to 69, but having the common thread of a shared adventure, they bonded immediately.

The group stayed several days in Italy’s main cities of Rome, Venice, Sorrento and Florence. Their “education” that had began in the classroom played out each day as they ventured on excursions, walking tours, lectures and sightseeing in Verona, Bologna, Orvieto (with a visit to the organic Altarocca Winery), San Gimignano, Ravello, and Pompeii. Highlights of the trip were the rollercoaster-like ride along the Amalfi Coast, a visit to the Venice Opera, and a gondola ride that lasted almost two hours (see photos below)

Lessons learned extended beyond English literature, to economics, sociology and political science. Italy had a water shortage and a taxi strike during the trip. Yet, the students noted, in the face of shortages price gouging was never an issue among the Italians.

Student Joshua Briere had this to say about the program: “study abroad is important because it gives you a safe, educational environment in which to expose yourself to other cultures, customs, and ways of thinking. I was able to grow in my knowledge in understanding of Italian history and culture through our visit. If I met a student who was considering a study abroad trip, I would encourage them to do so, and let them know that it will certainly be an eye-opening, life-changing experience!”

Several weeks after the trip a follow up dinner was organized on Jane’s birthday. The bond formed abroad was still strong. The group laughed and joked as they remember all they had seen and learned. They concluded the trip was an experience of a lifetime, one they would never forget. The learning wasn’t over either. It had only just begun.

Gondola Ride
From left to right is Jeff Delida, Sierra Peterson, Alexis Armand, and Brandon Tsay.

Top of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice 
From left to right (roughly) is: Gabby Hernandez, Madeleine Ownby, Joshua Briere, Saba Tahir, Shana Taylor, Brandon Tsay, Lorna Thwaites, and me.

The Rollercoaster-like Ride along the
Amalfi Coast Road
Reynolds hosting Coakley Brown Alumni Art Exhibit: 
"Nature's Light: A Celebration of Color"

Richmond, Va. (October 6, 2017) - The Conference Center Gallery in the Workforce Development and Conference Center on Reynolds Community College Parham Road Campus will open its doors Monday, October 16 to showcase Coakley Brown’s art exhibit, “Nature's Light: A Celebration of Color.” The exhibit of 33 of Coakley's works will be on display through January 2018.

Brown says, “At age four, I wanted to be an artist. I remember a relative telling me that as an artist, “You’ll have to wear a beret…” - I didn’t like that. I did enjoy creating art whenever I could. Nonetheless, teaching science and raising a family became my focus, a path that seemed most practical at the time. As a teacher and parent, I nurtured in students, my children, and myself, observation skills as a means of understanding and appreciating the natural world.

As my children grew, “forced” ventures into galleries/art museums became a running family joke. Often, I was searching for pieces that I could not quite find. My family encouraged me to paint my own. Eventually, a wake-up call reminded me that as humans, none of us lives forever. The message: What are you waiting for? DO THE THING!

As a representational artist, I am happiest when working with expressive brush strokes, capturing and exaggerating hints of color on canvas in a celebration of the light and color I see. Whether in the studio or field, my work is often inspired by nature. Painting directly from life en plein air ‘in open air’, brings me a bliss I relish sharing with others. I strive to produce work that is authentic, but not photographic in detail. There is a balance, I believe, where authenticity is achieved in the choice of details captured or omitted. The search for that balance, arriving at it, and searching again, is paramount to my artistic journey.

The public is invited to the open reception Monday, October 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information about this event or to schedule a tour of the collection, contact Karen Steele at
Meet Mike Vaughan
Assistant Professor - Welding

Are you from Richmond or did you come here from another city and state?
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee. My Dad was in the Navy, but his family was here in Virginia.

How long have you worked for Reynolds?
Full time for the last 11 years, part time for around ten years before that.

What do you like best about working here?
The students, who come in all ages and backgrounds and have so many stories to tell.

How did you get started as a welder?
My first introduction  was when I became employed as a mechanics helper at Reynolds Metals Extrusion Plant. One of the welders there first showed me how to strike an arc.

What is the most challenging skill you teach to new welders?
The ability to develop an eye for precision and detail, which will set them apart from the average welder.

When you are not working, what do you like to do?
Hunt, Fish, and play Guitar.

If you won the lottery, what would you do first?
I have never played.

What is the one thing you want others to know about you?
My word is my bond.

What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Students have told me I was the best teacher they ever had.

Who is your most respected hero or heroine, and why?
A toss-up between my Dad (86 now), and Theodore Roosevelt. They were both outstanding outdoorsmen, who were tenacious in all they strove to accomplish.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Meet Donald Cooper -
One of Ten 
Valley Proteins Fellows Program Recipients

Donald Cooper is one of 10. Of the more than 250,000 students served by the Virginia Community College System, he was one of only 10 selected as a Valley Proteins Fellow. That’s impressive. And even more impressive, this is the second year in a row a Reynolds student has been chosen for this prestigious program.

“I am very grateful for the honor. I was up against a lot of candidates and the application process was a bit intimidating,” says Cooper. “Reynolds provided me with the tools and the opportunities, like the Valley Proteins program, to get an education.” The scholarship, combined with professional development, travel, and cultural opportunities, has an approximate value of $15,000.

The core mission of the Valley Proteins Fellows Program is to help promising, second-year students at Virginia’s community colleges pursue their academic goals and strengthen their leadership skills. In addition to receiving full tuition, book expenses and fees, the Fellows participate in a unique curriculum of intellectual and cultural activities. The Fellows also participate in 80 hours of community service during the academic year to hone their leadership abilities and develop a strong foundation for future success, while maintaining a required minimum 3.5 grade point average.

“Receiving this fellowship has alleviated some of the financial stress I was feeling about how to pay for my education. And what’s priceless is that it has already given me the incredible opportunity to go to the governor’s mansion and meet Governor Terry McAuliffe. I shook the governor’s hand and thanked him for supporting the Virginia Community College System.”

The fellows program is made possible through the generous support of Valley Proteins, Inc. The Winchester-based company has been in the rendering business for more than 60 years and currently operates plants in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. The management of Valley Proteins is committed to outstanding corporate citizenship, excellent customer service, technological innovation and support for the community college mission.
President of Valley Proteins, Inc. Gerald Smith, Jr., said, “My brother and I are pleased to support the Valley Proteins Fellows program because it provides us with the opportunity to develop a more educated and competitive Virginia.”

For a student who readily admits only a few years ago his goals weren’t so lofty, Cooper has come a long way and gives Reynolds the credit for his growth. He plans to graduate from Reynolds in May 2018 as a Business and Social Science major, before continuing his education in economics, finance or law at the University of Virginia, University of Richmond, or William and Mary. Cooper says, “I’d like to be the person who shows others that opportunities are out there and waiting if only they will put forth the effort to pursue them.”

“The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education is dedicated to expanding opportunities by leveraging partnerships,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia Community College System. “This program is a great example of the synergy that comes from joining together employers that are vested in the quality of tomorrow’s Virginia workforce and the community colleges that elevate it every day.”

Serving over 18,000 students annually, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College is the youngest and third largest of 23 community colleges in Virginia. The College operates three campuses serving residents in the City of Richmond and the counties of Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan and Louisa.