Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Student Profile

Marcus Taylor Before and After Reynolds







I met Marcus Taylor in late October 2019 when he was just beginning his educational journey at Reynolds. During our interview he told me: “I have thrived in the Reynolds atmosphere of small classes. I am truly grateful to have been given the space to explore my talents and interests. I tell others, if you want to go to college, and you want to work, there are opportunities right here at your fingertips. If you can afford those expensive gym shoes, you can afford to go to college.” (Read the original blog story here.)

Marcus was, and is, an impressively hard working individual. He’s a veteran who’s been to war, he’s had several careers, he’s worked long hours, and he’s struggled to make a living. As an adult student he was well acquainted with tough assignments. “You can’t whine and complain that the work is too hard,” he told me back in 2019, “you’ve just got to dig in and do it, you’ve got to do the hard stuff . . . I chuckle when they [young students] huff and puff about getting a tough homework assignment. Paying bills, and fighting for your life, now THOSE are tough assignments.”

Three years and a global pandemic later, Marcus graduated from Reynolds in the spring of 2022 with his degree in Construction Management. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Marcus again shortly after commencement. We talked about graduation, his upcoming marriage, his Reynolds experience, and what was coming next in his life. 

Marcus graduated on a Sunday. The very next day, Monday, he started getting job offers from architectural firms. “I don’t know how they knew I had graduated, don’t know who informed them, but it’s good. All good,” he told me, shaking his head as if he was still didn’t believe his good fortune. “My number one offer is from a home builder. I’ve also got some independent offers to do layouts and blueprints.” Given Marcus’s entrepreneurial spirit, an independent offer would be the “kind of suit that fits him just right,” as he would say.

As if a degree wasn’t enough, Marcus has his own line of personal care products, 9th Wonder Premium Products – soaps, body butter, beard products, lotions, shampoos and body wash for men and women - he developed in 2014 when he was a barber. “I didn’t really take it all seriously until some of my clients told me I should take it to the next level.” With Marcus’s slow and steady persistence his line has taken off. Since our last interview, he has established a partnership with a major gym chain and sales are rolling. In addition to clients in Virginia, his products are selling in Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

And if he’s not busy enough, Marcus just got married to the girlfriend who has been his supporter, encourager, and his challenger every step of the way. In 2019 she was the one who saw his engineering talent and urged him to come to Reynolds. She is the one who then urged him to speak up in our interview about his life and his experience at Reynolds. Both she and Marcus’s daughter are Reynolds graduates. Marcus’s girlfriend, now wife, has three degrees, his daughter has two. They challenged him to get his first degree, now they are challenging him to keep up with them and to continue his education.

The future?

“My goal,” Marcus says, “is to establish more residual income to buy back my time. We don’t have a lot of time on this earth. I’ve never been one to waste what I’ve been given. I want to use my time to build my dreams. I’ve got a lot of moving parts in my life. That’s the way I want to keep it.” Several years and a pandemic haven’t changed this side of Marcus one bit.

What one thing did Reynolds do to keep you motivated and on track to finishing your degree?

“Two words: Mr. Bass,” Marcus pauses, “Mr. Bass,” he repeats. “That guy is one of the most helpful, understanding, positive, funny, professional, hardworking people I’ve ever known. He encouraged me. He reached out during covid when things got messy. Classes got cancelled, but he kept reaching out to me, letting me know what was happening. He made our assignments flexible so we could get them done when things weren’t going well. He told me what he saw in me, and he inspired me to find that talent in myself. He was the deciding factor. Without him, I probably would have let it all go.”

“I remember one time I left my wallet in his class at Parham. He came all the way over to Church Hill on 25th Street to bring it to me while I was working on a construction job. He did not have to do that. Now, THAT’S a great guy.”

Advice to other students?

“Focus. Focus. And, focus. If you focus, almost anything is possible. If you hit a roadblock, it’s not the end of the road. You’ve gotta focus on your destination instead whatever is trying to stop you. Focus.”

Three years and a global pandemic? Just small roadblocks. It's all perspective. With Marcus’s focus, as he says, “it’s only blessing, after blessing, after blessing.”


Monday, June 6, 2022

Reynolds Joins ATD

Reynolds Community College Joins
Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network

Reynolds Will Advance Educational Equity and Accelerate Community Growth in Partnership with Achieving the Dream

Reynolds is joining the 2022 cohort of Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network to holistically advance equity, access, and student success. By joining the ATD Network, Reynolds is committing to a tailored engagement in whole-college transformation and gaining access to a nationwide network of peer support and expertise.

Reynolds is part of a cohort of seven colleges joining the ATD Network during a time of continued enrollment challenges for two-year institutions across the country, when equitable access and community engagement are more important than ever for the students that colleges serve.

"Social and economic mobility for our entire region is core to our mission. This is important work we are embarking on with Achieving the Dream. Transformational work with laser focus on increasing both equitable access to and completion of credentials and degrees that lead to great jobs that pay family sustaining wages," says Dr. Paula P. Pando, president of Reynolds.

“Community colleges, and particularly colleges in the ATD Network, recognize that they serve as engines of opportunity not just for their students, but for the entire communities that they serve,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “ATD’s work is centered on equity, and I am excited to see how the new Network colleges in the 2022 cohort start generating transformational change that lifts up their communities and advances the field.”

Teams from each of the seven colleges will convene in Charlotte, NC, from June 14 to 16 for a Kickoff Institute that will set the stage for their partnership with ATD. Representatives from Reynolds will meet with ATD coaches and begin to develop customized action plans based on the college’s strategic direction, It’s a New Day, which was launched in September 2021.  

Reynolds, alongside the 2022 cohort of new ATD Network colleges, is committed to tackling equity challenges, building a culture of data-informed decision-making, and maximizing the student experience through high-quality teaching and learning. 

Reynolds is joining the ATD Network alongside six other institutions:

Brookdale Community College (NJ)

Central Carolina Technical College (SC) 

Community College of Aurora (CO) 

HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College (PA) 

Meridian Community College (MS) 

Northwood Technical College (WI) 

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 


 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

June is Men's Health Month

In honor of Men's Health Month in June Professor of Health Science and Master Advisor Stephen Sowulewski sent this short piece about his father's health ordeal to be published on Reynolds blog. 

If you, or a man in your life, is due for a check up, Men's Health Month is a great time to make that appointment!

From Stephen:

My research into men’s health issues always has me feeling hopeful around June of each year.  Although more work needs to be done on the forefront of men’s health, we are making strides at the Men’s Health Network (MHN) in Washington, DC. I was thrilled to be assigned to MHN for my doctoral externship many years ago and had the opportunity to knock on doors within the halls of congress to help lobby efforts toward opening an official office on men’s health.  

Rewind to the summer of 2003 and my father’s diagnosis of prostate cancer.  He has always been an exceptional listener and never quick to jump in on a conversation but you really know that the “wheels are turning” and he is indeed taking it all in.  No matter the diagnosis, my dad went on a quest to learn as much as he could about his diagnosis.  As tough as my dad is, I could see the consternation. Seeing him with a catheter bag walking around the house and being vulnerable in that post-surgical timeframe really brought perspective to me with regard to societal standards that men need to ‘suck it up’ and move on. Being a devout catholic and having trust in the Lord as well as his supporters (my mom and I) helped propel my dad through this ordeal.   

A recent episode of my favorite show, Blue Bloods has Tom Selleck (NYPD Police Commissioner Frank Reagan) bartering with his father’s physician about not letting his father know of the prostate diagnosis. Well, often our best intentions end up coming apart at the seams. In this case, the ‘Reagan patriarch’ finds out anyway. This episode hits close to home because my friend’s brother did not want his family knowing about the diagnosis and eventual surgery.  Not everyone will accept support for things that happen in their life but this episode gave me hope that a person diagnosed with cancer will at least let one person know so they can have that support structure.   

The vast majority of men will die with prostate cancer as opposed to dying from it.  The end result was a good one for my father — almost 20 years later and he continues to receive a clean bill of health from the urologist.   

Lastly, my dad considers himself a marked man.  He had his gallbladder removed a few years prior to his prostate removal and somehow, someway, he bears a scar in the shape of a cross at those exact surgical sites.   

I call this his battle scars because he continues to be a wellness warrior!

Stephen Sowulewski 


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Inaugural Spring Fling

Inaugural Spring Fling an Eggstra Special Event

View all the photos and Reynolds Flickr page


“This was an amazing event,” Jackie Manley, one of the event’s Planning Committee said, “it was great seeing all the Reynolds family working together bringing joy, laughter, and smiles to those future Reynolds Students. We have gotten a lot of emails from staff, faculty, and students saying how wonderful the day was, but without the hands of everyone involved, we could not have made it possible. Special thanks to everyone. As Mazhar said to me in one of his emails: We Are A Team!”

The favorite attractions were the face painting, the three egg hunts – two for children, and one for the adults – and the special appearance of Flying Squirrels, Nutzy and Nutasha. 

Lena, the student who won the IPad Air from the raffle, said, “I am amazed at how well everything was put together, and how Reynolds could afford to have all this stuff for free. In difficult times like this it’s hard to bring your children to something like this and have to pay for each child to get their face painted. My grandbabies loved the egg hunts, the face painting, and loved dancing and it was all free.”

Special thank yous go to:  Mazhar  Anik,  Margaret Hill, Martha Harper, Maria Clarke; Kim Cain; Melody Hockaday; Shanna Black, Brieanna Dickerson, Kanika Morris, team of student volunteers, Tyree Flowers, Dr. Jeffery Allen, Business Office, Library, Registrar Office, Marketing, Advising Services, Financial Aid, Admissions, ODU online, Anime Club,  Scholarship/Foundation Office, Housekeeping/Custodial Team, the Reynolds Police and SGT Talley-Bryant. 

Extra special Shout Out’s to: Jackie Manley, Ariel Cole, and Jessica Anderson – The Planning Committee.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Employee Profile

Jake Harrison
Information Technology Specialist III 

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in Hanover county and Sebastian, Florida. I stayed in both a developed community and later in a more rural part in Hanover. It seemed like a quiet and safe place as a kid. I moved with family to Sebastian to finish high school. It was very beautiful and I enjoyed fishing with my grandfather. Unfortunately it didn’t provide much opportunity for the career I was interested in.

What were you doing before coming to Reynolds?

I worked with a federal contractor in the FAA realm while in Florida.

What attracted you to working for the college?

I like project based work in IT and my previous experiences working in an educational environment were great.  

Tell us about your position and your work at the college?

I’m an Information Technology Specialist III and lead the systems engineering team in the Department of Technology.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

I enjoy enabling other faculty and staff that work towards the goals of the college.  In return, the college is positively impacting the members of our community. I also enjoy working with our support team at the VCCS. Dr. Amar, Mary Jane Bolling, and Alicia Marques are great at what they do and I’m lucky to work with them.

The most challenging part would have to be the workload!  It’s just been myself for quite a while, but luckily that is changing this week.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I look forward to going home and spending time with my family every day. I inherited my father’s motorcycle and learned how to work on bikes just enough to get it running. I have a home lab environment for studying and enjoy electronics.  A recent project I did was assemble a handheld device that looks and functions like a Gameboy, but it can also be used for network assessments.

What are your favorite books, movies, or TV series, and why?

I’ll occasionally watch a TV show like Mythic Quest for the noise, but most of the time end up watching Blippi with my daughter. I’m currently reading “System Center Configuration Manager Reporting Unleashed” on my tablet.  

If you won $100 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

I’d like to buy a house with a yard, pay off debt, and start a nonprofit refurbishing computers or bringing esports to schools.


Horticulture

How does your garden grow?

Greenleaf, a local medical cannabis producer, donated eight hydroponic grow tables to Reynolds horticulture program at The Kitchens. Crops are beginning to come up, and so are questions about what a grow table is, and what it does.

Hydroponic flood tables, also referred to as grow trays or plant trays, are a means for holding plants in a hydroponic, self-watering system. They generally work in tandem with a stand or rolling bench, with the hydroponic reservoir underneath.

Most tables feature a single submersible pump placed in the reservoir and operated on a timer to periodically flood the plants. After the flood cycle is complete, the pump shuts off and the nutrient solution flows back into the reservoir through the pump by way of gravity.

It's springtime and David Seward, Karin Stretchko, and all of the horticulture program students are seriously up to their knees in plants. They were gracious enough to take time to answer a few questions on a rainy afternoon. 

What are you growing in the tables at The Kitchens?  

Right now at The Kitchens, lettuces and kale. There are more products being produced at the Goochland Campus that have been growing longer. In Goochland assorted greens, vegetables, cucumbers, parsley, and a couple of other herbs are coming up.

Who will be using what is grown at The Kitchens? 

The material at the Kitchens will go to the Culinary program. In Goochland, vegetables and plants go to students, and the Goochland Cares Food bank.  We had a meeting with Kristen Holt, and will soon begin sharing harvests with Reynolds Food Pantries for our students.

Is the grow time different than in the ground?  

I’d say the grow time is shorter in the hydroponics set up since it doesn’t slow up with weather conditions.

How are the tables regulated? What happens if the power goes off?  

The floating system we are using at The Kitchens would be fine for a while with no power. The only things needing electricity would be the heaters/fans in the greenhouse itself, and the air stones used to provide oxygen to the water solution they are floating in.

Will you be expanding the program?  

We may add a couple of tables at The Kitchens, and in Goochland. In general we do plan to expand our Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) offerings.  We are also working on a ground bed at The Kitchens, which means we are creating a raised bed to be in the greenhouse, where we can grow other crops.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Employee Profile

Ashley King
G3 Advising Coordinator / Advising & Counseling Services

Where did you grow up and what was it like? 

I grew up in Glen Allen, Virginia where I had an amazing childhood. I loved doing activities so I was in extracurricular activities such as: Little league cheerleading, little league basketball, Track and field, and the Step Team. In the classroom, most of my teachers would say I was a “social butterfly”. 

What brought you to Reynolds?

What brought me to Reynolds is my love for people and education. Reynolds being a Community College allows me to meet people from all walks of life and I love hearing and learning about other ethnicities and cultures. More importantly, I love being able to help students reach their educational goals. I can’t say that growing up at Reynolds wasn’t part of what brought me to Reynolds. My mother is Jackie Manley. She has worked here at Reynolds since I was in Elementary School. Reynolds has always been family to me! 

What were you doing before coming to Reynolds?

Before Reynolds I was at Norfolk State University, pursing a major in Sociology and minoring in Criminal Justice. At this time, I worked for Saxon Shoes, where I’d been working the past eight years. Fortunately, Reynolds gave me an opportunity at a “real” fulltime job shortly after I graduated college.

Tell us about your work at the college. What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part of my job here at Reynolds is being able to interact with and learn from people from all over. The most challenging part about my job is hearing some of the difficulties our students face or have faced in their personal lives.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I am a foodie! When I am not working, I am either at home in the kitchen cooking or out eating with my family. I love summer time, so you can always catch me at the pool or beach with husband and bonus son, or chilling with my friends at a concert or lounge. When I am not out and about I am home laying around watching shows and sports with my husband. 

What is your favorite book, movie, or TV series?

My favorite TV Series is Sistahs and favorite movies are Gladiator and The Negotiator. I love to read, but don’t have a favorite book.

If you won $100 million in the lottery what would you do with the money?

If I won $100 million in the lottery, I would reinvest my money into other businesses, start my own businesses and travel the world.


Monday, March 14, 2022

ATD

Reynolds attends Achieving The Dream’s 18th annual convening, DREAM 2022

Contributed by Kelly Waterbury / Enrollment Management and Student Success Coordinator, Advising Services

Achieving the Dream is a network of more than 300 colleges across 45 states that are dedicated to providing better services to students and accelerating student success. This network of community colleges work together to be the leaders of equitable change.

The week of February 14th, leaders, scholars and practitioners united for four days of Achieving The Dream’s (ATD’s) plenary sessions, DREAM 2022. Reynolds faculty and staff who attended are listed below. 

DREAM 2022 was a virtual conference that provided powerful and key insights about evidence-based reform strategies to sustain transformational change in higher education. The lessons and messages shared by the ADT presenters were focused on equity and continual change as the driving force for achieving educational, economic and social benefits of higher education for our nation’s students.

DREAM 2022 centered on five key themes representing challenges and opportunities for meaningful change in our colleges and communities.

Building stronger pathways to and through postsecondary education

Adopting a holistic, equity-focused approach to community vitality

Eliminating systemic barriers to student success

Fostering a sense of belonging through teaching and learning excellence

Leveraging data and analytics for institutional and community well-being

Colleges in the ATD Network benefit from the collective learning of institutions and partners and from ATD’s 15 years of experience, anticipating future needs and issues in the face of continual change. Network institutions have the unique opportunity to learn from (and with) their peers through exclusive access to network events, summits, and convenings. 

Colleges leaders confirm that participation in the ATD Network makes a real impact in strengthening campus culture and increasing student outcomes.

Reynolds attendees: Jeffrey Allen, Nancy Bailey, Bern Battle, Heather Blicher, Chequana Boisseau, Melissa Brooks, Kris Dahm, Stacie Davis, Lori Dwyer, Lofton Hooker, Marlon Johnson, Karen Layou, Bess Littlefield, Teresa Jordan, Cara Luyster, Tim Merrill, Paula Pando, Ernesto Quintero, Jason Sampson, Terricita Sass, Robin Shepherd, Curt Smith, Bruce Sofinski, Kelly Waterbury, Clifton Webb, Herman West


Federal Work Study Program

FWS: Successes Prove its Value

Programs are just programs until names, faces, and successes prove their value.  

The Federal Work Study program (FWS) is a great example. The program was started in 1964 during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Now, just shy of its 50th Anniversary, the program has been around so long it’s like electricity – you wouldn’t really notice it unless it got cut off. 

But at a time when enrollment and student retention are the most important goals Reynolds confronts, programs like FWS and the lives its impacted, should get a closer look. And what better time than National Student Employee Appreciation Week, April 11 to 15, to pay tribute to the FWS program through the lives of four Reynolds staff members.

Meredith Kane, Maria Clarke, Rachel Hoke, and Kanika Morris embody the original spirit and intention of FWS – to stimulate and promote part time employment for students with financial need in higher education. 

To say these four women are advocates of the program is not quite strong enough. Their lives have radically changed course as a result of their participation, and they all express great gratitude for the opportunity.

Meredith Kane 

Meredith came to Reynolds in 2019 as a part-time Financial Aid Specialist. Just as the Covid pandemic was in full swing in July 2020 she was hired full time as a Financial Aid Technician and was also given the role of FWS Coordinator. Before coming to Reynolds Meredith was working in retail merchandising management for two large department stores.

Meredith’s smile lights up when she talks about FWS and the students. Her connection to the program is personal. Before taking her job here at the college she knew first hand about the federal work study program. When she was in college at Virginia Tech she was a student worker. She worked in the Virginia Tech library sorting government documents which helped pay for her housing until she graduated.

“Many of the students in the program have limited or no prior work experience,” Meredith said. “These positions are opportunities for students to learn new skills including critical thinking, customer service, organization, time management and communication. When students graduate these skills can be used to build their resumes. Employers are impressed to see students who have job experience and who have worked while attending school, making FWS students more competitive and attractive to employers.”

And the benefit for Reynolds? “FWS students add value to the department they work in,” Meredith continues. “They are able to give feedback to supervisors and staff though student’s “eyes” – a perspective that might have previously been overlooked. Having a FWS student in your department is a great reminder that we are not just here for students to complete classwork, but we are here to also establish a foundation with real world skills for them to be successful beyond the classroom."

"Perhaps most important, work study students are more likely to complete their academic programs and have a greater sense of belonging in the college community. They stay on campus longer during the day. They are more dedicated and invested because they have the chance to develop deeper relationships with faculty and staff who continually check in with them to find out how they're doing.”

Maria Clarke

Maria's first comment is: “I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to work as a work study student.” The experience gave her career a 180 degree turn and changed her future. She has a degree in accounting, but life didn’t take her down that path.

When Maria came to Reynolds as a student she immediately went into the Work Study program in the Financial Aid Department. There she stayed in that department for the next 15 years. “At the time I started I had a single focus. I was going to be an accountant and work with numbers. But I like helping people. The work study changed me. Six months after working as a work study I was offered a part-time position as a Financial Aid Technician. Soon after I was offered a full-time position as a Financial Aid Advisor. Then, in 2014 I was promoted to Financial Aid Coordinator. All of this was possible because I had the work study opportunity.”

“We are always happy to have a work study student in the office. We use them to test the FAFSA. They see things from their perspective, and that really helps us.” 

No doubt, Maria, like Meredith, is just about the best mentor and guide a student could ask for. Both have been down the FWS road. Both are caring and compassionate. Both know how much students need that extra help.

Rachel Hoke

Rachel (on left in picture) will tell you she didn’t get into Reynolds FWS until her last semester, and “that was a big mistake.” She wished she had gotten into the program from the beginning. “I was working in retail, and wasn’t building any career skills. My Work Study job started in the Registrar’s Office. I really love Ms. Angela [Ross] she is great to work with. After graduation she kept me on, and gave me a part-time position. She is a great supporter of the Work Study program, and cares about student success. Being part of the program changed my mindset. I got much more serious and focused on my school work. Here I was on campus, and the staff was always checking up on me. I wanted to do well.”

Rachel received her associate’s degree in Social Sciences, and is now working on her bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University. She continues to work part-time in Reynolds Registrar’s Office. 

Kanika Morris

“My experience in the work study program has been outstanding,” Kanika is quick to say. 

Before coming to Reynolds Kanika (on the right in picture) was a tractor-trailer driver, and as the job demanded, she had to be away from home too often.  She came to Reynolds out of curiosity. Her young son was being taught sign language, she was fascinated and wanted to learn it herself. As a student she ran into other students who were getting associate’s degrees and was certain she could do that too. 

As Kanika began her studies in Social Sciences she went into the Work Study program. She too started in the Financial Aid Office, then moved to Single Stop which was more closely aligned with her area of study. From there she went to the Registrar’s Office – she too loves Ms. Ross – and started working part-time. Kanika will graduate this spring, and will continue her studies at Old Dominion along with Rachel. Her young son? He also came to Reynolds, also participated in the Work Study program, and graduated from Reynolds last year, one year before his mom. 

“The work study program has helped me tremendously,” Kanika holds up her hands and gives a big smile. “It gave me a chance to stay home, and forced me to stay on top of my classes, to be dedicated and serious about my school work, and to be a mommy at the same time. The staff were all so encouraging, they made sure I would succeed. And here I am.” 


The Future

In 2021 Reynolds Work Study program had about thirty students participating. In 2022 the number dropped to 25. 

Student workers can be used anywhere on campus, but go mainly into Enrollment Services – Advising, Admissions, Registration. They have also been placed in the Writing Studio, Math Central, and most of the other academic departments. 

Most important to note here is that presently the program can accommodate about sixty students each semester. That means about half of this important student support opportunity is going untapped. Since budgeting for the program is based on need, if sixty students were hired into the program it could be expanded even further. 

Like electricity, let's appreciate this old 1960s program while it's still providing light.


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Employee Profile

I’m not done yet.

If you’ve ever discounted the intelligence of athletes, or doubted the finesse and fitness of professional wrestlers, a five minute conversation with Dr. Daniel Fritz, aka “Mr. Excellent”, will give your opinion a one-two punch. 

Meet Dr. Daniel Charles Fritz. Scholar. Athlete. And, Professional Wrestler. 

First, meet Dr. Fritz, the scholar: Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Virginia State University, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Reynolds who teaches Calculus, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra. Dr. Fritz holds not one, but two bachelor degrees, one in Architectural Engineering, the other in Pure Mathematics. His master’s degree is in Applied Mathematics. His doctorate is in Education. 

Then meet Daniel Fritz, the world class athlete, national competitor, record setting track runner, semi-pro footballer, track coach, martial arts master with five black belts with national and international titles, and founder of Ten Tigers of Taekwondo and Self Defense.

And then meet Danny Fritz or Mr. Excellent, as he is known is the world of Professional Wrestling.

Dr. Fritz, Daniel, Danny, Mr. Excellent has excelled in whatever he’s put his mind to. He has struggled, persevered, struggled some more, and won. He’s met and exceeded his goals, has a list of accomplishments a mile long (see the list below), and still, at the age of 59 says emphatically, “I’m not done yet.”

One of this gentleman’s most striking characteristics is that with all his national and international titles and awards, with his degrees, with his accomplishments, and with the famous people he’s met, he exhibits not one ounce of pretension or condescension. His smile is open and genuine, his kindness and caring are evident. “Just call me “Danny,” he says, “all my friends call me Danny.”  And you can be sure Danny has a lot of friends. He's that kind of person.

Danny was born and raised in Philadelphia. His Aunt Trudy became his Mom when she adopted him at birth. He was her only child, and she was a single mom. The rest of his family was absent. “Mom was there for everything growing up,” Danny says, “for every track meet, every event, rain, snow, late night, it didn’t matter, she was always there. She put me into lots of different things to build my confidence and self-esteem. Track, football, scouts, camps, I had a lot of activities.” At eight years old Danny won his first karate competition and his future in martial arts, in competition, and in winning, was set.

Pictured here: Danny on the left with Jesse Owens center. 

But life was no cakewalk. Bullying, peer pressure, family absence and criticism, limited resources . . . all the “stuff” life dealt Danny growing up worked like a supercharged energy drink to fuel his desire to win, to learn, and to accomplish his goals. Whenever he was confronted with a challenge, he dug in, and worked to master it. 

Danny found his calling in math while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Engineering. “I wanted to draw buildings, but there were all those math courses.” He was overwhelmed, but worked the math like a punching bag. In the midst of his struggle he realized being a math teacher was his destiny. God, he said, had a plan for him. But it wasn’t until he started teaching math, and pursing his master’s degree, that the subject and his calling became his own. His struggle ultimately became his win.

At the same time as he was doing time with math, on the “athletic” side of his life, Danny had another set of challenges. “I always wanted to get into professional wrestling,” he said, “I watched it [wrestling] growing up and knew it was something I wanted to do. Something I could do.” 

So Danny did what he does best: he worked the challenge like an opponent. He attended two of the top wrestling schools in the country and learned his craft. With his track, football and martial arts background, he was prepared to confront the rigorous training head on. He met and worked with top wrestlers, he travelled up and down the east coast for matches, and Mr. Excellent made a name for himself. He became known for his high-flying moves and his finesse. His fans loved him, and love him still. 

Keep in mind, Danny was never in a position to pursue just one of these areas at a time. While he was earning his academic degrees he was also earning his chops in martial arts and wrestling. And, as most athlete scholars must do, he was also working a job to fund his dreams. 

Now, at age 59, Danny’s mantra is: I’m not done yet. And he certainly isn’t. He is actively pursuing his shot at the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) stage, and another doctorate, this one in math. There is no “downtime” for Danny. His days are filled with teaching and helping students, whether it’s in the classroom, on the track, or the mats of the martial arts studio. He has succeeded, and wants all of his students to do the same. 

“Imagine being able to do what you want at both ends of your career," said Reynolds Dean of Science, Technology, and Engineering Ray Burton, "a professional wrestler AND a well-renowned mathematician? When Dr. Fritz -Danny - sent me this [Slam] article, I read it and immediately asked if I could share it with the team and the college. Up to now, I had only seen Danny in the classroom eliciting so many of those coveted “light bulb” moments all teachers seek from their students.  His story is both compelling and an example to so many of our students.  Don’t let your dreams be restricted and when you reach high, reach as high as you can.  

Danny brings a love of learning to students in what are considered some of the most difficult, high-level mathematics courses in the community college system.  He is very invested in his students’ success.  I and the whole STEM Team are very proud to have him as a colleague.”

Keep this in mind: if you ever get tired or down, or feel like giving up on those hard to reach goals, here’s hoping you’ll think back on this article and keep Danny’s story in focus, and maybe even say to yourself, “I’m not done yet either.” 



Dr. Daniel C. Fritz Long List

YouTube Videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmFNWPwniQw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqPtj_o0Nxo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IF46PVQuvQ


Wrestling

IWA U.S. Heavy Weight Champion (2 times)    

International Wrestling Alliance (based out of North Carolina)

NDW U.S Heavy Weight Champion (3 times)  

New Dimensions Championship wrestling

ACW U.S. Television Champion (2 times)        

Alternative Championship Wrestling

WWP Heavy Weight Champion and United State Heavy Weight Champion

World Wrestling Promotions (Based out of North Carolina)


Martial Arts

These competitions were all at the black belt level: 

Taekwondo North Carolina State Champion (3 times Forms Champions) in the Ultra Division

Taekwondo North Carolina State Champion ( 2 time Fighting Champion) in the Ultra Division

Bronze medalist in the fighting competition (Ultra Division) U.S. Taekwondo National Championship  (1998, Cincinnati, Ohio)

Silver medalist in forms competition (Ultra Division) U.S. Taekwondo National Championships  ( 2006,  New Orleans, LA)

Taekwondo Kyonggi International Forms Champion (2002) Gold Medalist in Seoul Korea

Taekwondo Kyonggi International Silver medalist in fighting competition in Seoul Korea

Kung Fu and Karate Kata/Forms Grand Champion 

Presently preparing for matches in professional wrestling to try and get to the WWE, Ring of Honor (and also preparing to compete in Mixed Martial Arts and also to get to Karate Combat League).


Credentials

2nd Degree Black Belt in Jidokwan Taekwondo (WTF, with Kukkiwon certification)

3rd Degree Black Belt in Mudokwan Taekwondo

2th Degree Black Belt in Hapkido

3th Degree Black belt in Shotokan Karate

Master instructor in Hung –Gar (5 animal ) Sil Lum Kung Fu


Education

Bachelor of Science Degree in Architectural Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University

Bachelor of Science in Degree Pure mathematics From Winston Salem State University

Masters of Science Degree in Applied Mathematics-from North Carolina A&T State University

Doctorate Degree in Education from Virginia State University


Monday, February 28, 2022

Employee Profile

Meet Yvette Brooks
Coaching and Recruitment Support Technician 

Where did you grow up, and what was it like? 

I grew up here in Richmond as an only child.  My mother who also work at Reynolds (Ms. Theresa Brooks) was a great mother and is still my role model to this day. 

What brought you to Reynolds - aside from your mother?  

I love what Reynolds stands for and what we do here. It is very satisfying to see the students we help move on to bigger and better things.

How long have you been with the college? What were you doing before you came to Reynolds? 

I started at Reynolds after high school. I received my Business Administration degree while working at Reynolds I have worked various positions. I started as a work-study student and moved to part-time and then on to my current job in Admissions and Recruitment.

Coaching and Recruitment is a busy area these days. Tell us about your work in the department. 

I am the Admission and Recruitment Support Specialist. I can say I do a little bit of everything. From answering phones to helping student with applications, and more. 

What do you like to do outside of work? 

I currently have little free time outside of work as I am working on my Forensic Accounting Degree, but whenever I can I enjoy reading and traveling.

What is your favorite book, movie, or TV series, and why? 

I don’t know that I have a favorite book, but I really enjoy mysteries. I enjoy trying to figure out the who, what, and why.

If you won $100 million in the lottery what would you do with the money? 

If I won the lottery I would complete my goal to visit all 50 states. So far I have marked off 14 states.


PTK

Reynolds PTK at work in the community: Finally in Person!

Since 2020, during covid times, PTK's community projects have all been virtual. Finally, on February 12th 2022, students were able to do their first in person - all outside - service project.

The long, cold day was spent at James River Park removing invasive plants from the trail around the Pumphouse Park area of the James River. 

Kim Hasley and Cara Luyster co-advise PTK, and shared these details about what PTK has been up to.

How did PTK get involved with the Park? How many students participated? And, how was the day?  

There were five of us all together.  We worked with James River Park services to remove invasive plant species from the trail. We ended up picking up a lot of trash too, even though that was not our main job. 

We used the “Hands On RVA” site to get in touch with the James River Parks.  They provided the equipment we needed to cut down the invasive plants choking out the trees. We were out there for several hours and were all tired when we were done.

HandsOn Greater Richmond, is a way to connect with the community. It’s easy. Just create a volunteer account and you can manage your own signups as part of this team. 

What virtual community projects have you been doing since 2020? 

Before 2020, we would do one service project a month—things like volunteering with BARK, Richmond Animal League, going to see kids in the hospital for a reverse Trick or Treat, and doing activities with residents at nursing homes. Approximately, 280 students have joined PTK every year since 2019. 

With covid we couldn’t get out into the community. We wanted to continue our project so, like everyone else, we learned how to be of service virtually.  Here are a few of the virtual projects we’ve been working on since 2020.

BeMyEyes. This is an app used to help the visually impaired. It is a remote service done through a secure portal. Students could sign up for the app, and when someone needed their help interpreting visual information they would get a notification.

Donate! All PTK members were encouraged to donate to a local charity. From clothes, canned food, and money, all are encouraged to lend a helping hand during these hard times!

Transcribing historical documents. This project challenged students to jump back into community service by transcribing historical documents! Not only is this a fun and easy way to earn a credit towards the 5-STAR ENHANCEMENT PLAN, but it also can be done from the comfort of home! Students could explore, choose their favorite topic, and start transcribing! 

Good Deeds Day. Students were directed to this website where they could choose a virtual service opportunity.

While there seemed to be no end to the service opportunities that sprang up from the turmoil of covid, the James River Park project was literally, and figuratively, a breath of fresh air. It was great to get back out in the community in person, besides it’s hard to beat the satisfaction of a day of productive hard work.




Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Employee Profile

Back Roads. Engine Lights. 10,000 Steps. Consider yourself lucky to meet Tonia Haney.

How many people do you know who are brave enough to crisscross the country on back roads? 

How many people do you know who have driven to, and through, every state in the lower 48? 

To be sure, anyone with the moxie to take annual back road car trips must know quite a bit about cars and car repairs.

If you meet one such adventurous soul in your lifetime, you would be lucky.

So consider yourself lucky. In March you will have the opportunity to meet just such a character in Reynolds new Automotive Program Head and Instructor, Tonia Haney. 

First a little background. Tonia grew up in a small town in the mid-west. “I actually did grow up in a garage,” Tonia said, “my grandfather owned and operated the only repair shop in the small town where I grew up. I got in to it [fixing cars] because I just liked hanging out with grandpa.”

But, cars and car repairs were not Tonia’s first choice of career. She started out studying Chemical Engineering. A bout with Calculus II made her realize she did, indeed, enjoy the challenges of diagnosing and fixing cars, so she changed her major and graduated with a degree in Automotive Technology.


Straight out of college Tonia went to work for General Motors in Detroit. A few years later, GM sent her to work in Portland. She worked for GM in Portland for the next four years, but when the company “recalled” her to Detroit, Tonia said no. She liked Portland and decided to stay. Portland became her home and for the next six years she ran a mobile repair business, then for the next eleven years she served as Automotive Program Head and Instructor for an established Toyota T-TEN program in a community college.

It was through a monthly conference call with Toyota that Tonia heard about Reynolds joining the T-TEN program, and that the college was looking for someone to get the ball rolling. A visit to the Reynolds website, an application, and an interview later, and Tonia was packing her bags for Virginia. “The job itself is awesome,” said Tonia, “but what attracted me most to Reynolds was that I could build the program from the ground up.” Life’s challenges are clearly what excite Tonia the most.

At Reynolds, as the Program Head, Tonia’s job involves building the course curriculum, recruiting the “right” students – ones looking for a real career in automotive technology, and building relationships with the local Toyota dealers. On the Instructor side, her job is all hands on. “It’s easy to get your 10,000 steps done in a day when you’re instructing. The days are very full, and very busy.” Her plan is to recruit 16 students for the first cohort. 16 students in hands on training? Sounds like more than 10,000 steps and 10,000 turns of a wrench.

Tonia emphasizes that automotive technology these days is much more than rotating tires and oil changes. Although students will learn those basic repair skills, their studies and practice will take them well into the realm of complex technology and computers. “Consider this,” Tonia says, “The check engine light on your car has been around since the 1970s. Back then, the light meant one of five things was going wrong. Today that same check engine light could mean one of 400 things is going wrong.”

Tonia is looking to the future. Not just to her move to Richmond where she says, “I’m looking forward to meeting the awesome people of Richmond and at Reynolds,” but to the future of automotive technology. Automobiles will only get more complex along with the challenges they will represent for those diagnosing and solving their problems. It’s like Chemical Engineering under the hood . . . just the kind of challenge that revs Tonia’s engine.

Tonia’s move to Virginia will be in two stages. In March she will come to campus for the first time and will stay for several weeks. She will complete her move in late June. She didn’t say so, but it’s easy to imagine her driving the backroads all the way from Portland to Richmond.

Reynolds is lucky to have found and hired this adventurous individual. Take the time to meet and greet her when you can.

Here is Tonia with some of her students in the "classroom" in Portland.






Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Kitchens at Reynolds

A Pathway to The Kitchens 


Good things are cooking at The Kitchens these days. One of the best is a recruitment program to introduce high school students to culinary arts. Stacie Davis, Academic Dean, School of Business and Industrial Trades, and Chef Duane Brown recently sat down for a Q and A about the Reynolds Culinary Pathway program. 

Q:  Please tell us about the program and how it got started. 

A:  Stacie Davis: After learning about the Culinary program here at Reynolds and the needs of the industry, I worked with our Culinary faculty to determine the desires of the program - growth, outreach, community engagement, and meeting industry needs. These desires aligned with Reynolds’ Strategic Plan and were the foundation to build the new Reynolds student experience through the Culinary Pathway. This pathway starts with our high school Dual Enrollment students and will end with Reynolds Completers that are ready to fill industry gaps immediately! I knew the perfect person for the position was Chef Duane Brown, so I reached out to him on LinkedIn and the rest is history. He has engaged five different high school culinary classes in just a month and has helped us to initiated dual enrollment agreements with county vocational centers.

Q:  How does it work: do the students visit The Kitchens for a tour? 

A: Chef Duane Brown: An admission counselor and I visit culinary and baking programs at their location, we provide an overview of Reynolds, The Kitchens, and culinary careers beyond the kitchen and we wrap up with a demo and tasting.  The culinary students learn about emulsifiers and how to make aioli, the baking students learn how to make retail bakery items using basic ingredients and recipes 

Q: Is this a partnership with other outside groups? 

A: SD: No, we’re going to local high schools with culinary programs with the initial focus on programs that currently offer Reynolds Dual Enrollment classes and those that may be interested in starting DE with us.

Q:  What Reynolds staff are involved with the program? 

A: DB: Admissions and Adjunct Culinary Instructor

Q: What are their roles? 

A: DB: Admissions talks about degree options, financial aid and the application process. I talk about my career journey, emerging career opportunities and the importance of getting a formal education to be a competitive candidate for higher paying food jobs.

Q: What schools are you visiting?

A: DB: Chesterfield Technical Center and Hermitage ACE Center. We have met with five high school culinary/baking classes in both Chesterfield and Henrico counties. We will continue to work with these high schools and others in our local area.

Q: How is it working out? Will you continue?

A: DB: The students respond very well and ask questions about how to choose a college and how to compare college options. 

A: SD: It's working out phenomenally! Not only will we continue, but we have the blueprint to reach potential Reynolds students, increase enrollment through these students using a clear and seamless pathway to create Reynolds completers with industry experience that are ready for the industry immediately, even before graduation! We are excited about the difference we can make in the culinary industry, Richmond community, and the lives of our students.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Student Services

Reynolds Community College offers 24/7 mental telehealth for students!

Reynolds Community College is excited to offer TimelyCare - a new telehealth program for students. The service will provide access to 24/7 mental virtual health care from anywhere in the United States, with no cost to visit!

Whether a student is anxious or overwhelmed, they will be able to talk to a licensed provider from a smartphone or any web-enabled device. Licensed providers are available to offer mental health support via phone or secure video visits. Here are the FAQs you as faculty and staff can share with students:

Q. How can students access TimelyCare?

Students can go to timelycare.com/vccs to register with their name and school email address. Students can then have visits from any web-enabled device – smartphone, laptop, or desktop. TimelyCare is available from anywhere in the United States.

Q. Who can use TimelyCare?

Any student at Reynolds Community College

Q. What services are available?

Three services are available:

  • TalkNow: 24/7, on-demand access to a mental health professional to talk about anything at anytime,

  • Scheduled Counseling: scheduled options to speak to a licensed counselor,
     
  • Group Sessions: Weekly Guided Meditation and Yoga Group Sessions, plus specialized discussions throughout the year.

Q. How much does a visit cost?

Zip, zero, zilch! TimelyCare services are free to all Reynolds Community College students!

TimelyCare is for Reynolds students. It's Free. Please share this news so your students can get the help they need when they need it.


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Employee Profile

Jessica Buchanan
Assistant Director of Marketing

Where did you grow up and 
what was it like?

I grew up in Stafford County, along the Potomac River, which at the time was very rural. On weekends I would play in the woods with my best friends Nutmeg the Great Dane, Bapbo the Basset Hound, Mickey the Chocolate Lab and Tucker the Orange Tabby Cat. My forest adventures would have made a grand children's book. 


If you didn't grow up in Richmond, what brought you to the area? And, what brought you to Reynolds? 

I am one of those people who keeps leaving Richmond and coming back. This is my third time living in the area. As for coming to Reynolds, it was just a great opportunity. 

What were you doing before coming to Reynolds?

I worked for VCU Residential Life and Housing for seven years as their marketing person. There I discovered if you need people to do something, get their moms to tell them to do it. 

Tell us about your work here at the college.

I am the Assistant Director of Marketing, so anything dealing with branding, marketing, social media, signage, design might fall within my realm. 

Were you always interested in design and marketing?

I was always an art kid, but not everyone appreciated my art. My little sister used to yell at me for ruining her coloring books when I would add on to the pictures and color outside of the lines. 

What is your favorite activity outside of work?

I love spending time with my dog Diablo Linus Bond. He came with the name Diablo, but he could not be more of an angel. However, he believes that snuggling is a full-contact sport.

What is your favorite book, movie, or TV show?

My favorite movie is The Birdcage. I watch this movie with my moms and brother every year, and we dance around to, "We are family. I've got all my sisters with me," which plays in the movie's last scene. 

If you won $100 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Besides the adult things like paying off the house, car and school loans, I would take a trip to Montana. I know it sounds weird, but I met a professional photographer once that worked for National Geographic, and he said that Montana was the most beautiful place he had ever been. Ever since then, I have been so intrigued, and I really want to go.