Wednesday, February 29, 2012

JSRCC Police Department adds three sworn officers to its ranks

The J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Department of Police recently hired three additional full-time police officers. This brings the total number of sworn officers covering the College’s three campuses to 16. Reynolds is one of only six colleges in the Virginia Community College System with sworn police officers. Northern Virginia Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College and Virginia Western Community College are the others.

Photo L-R: Wyatt Hicks; Rondell White; David Campbell

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More than 125 students join honor society ranks

Reynolds inducted more than 125 students into the Alpha Iota Beta and the Alpha Gamma Omicron chapters of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society on Saturday, February 25. Phi Theta Kappa is the international honor society for two-year colleges and recognizes and encourages the academic achievement of two-year college students and provides opportunities for individual growth and development.

Mr. Richard Groover, JSRCC School of Mathematics and Science assistant dean, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Groover challenged the inductees to give back to the community and become leaders.

“One might say you are the cream of the crop,” noted Groover. “You are the top students. You are honor society scholars and you should be very proud.”

Phi Theta Kappa members have a strong presence on Reynolds’ campuses and throughout the community. Members have a commitment to service, leadership, fellowship and scholarship.

Today, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education, with more than 1.3 million members and 1,200 chapters in the United States, U.S. territories, Canada and Germany.

Packed house enjoys book discussion on “Like Water for Chocolate”

Adjunct faculty member Jackie Gottstein enlightened over 100 students, faculty, staff and guests as Reynolds hosted another “Around the World Through Books” discussion recently in the Gallery of Georgiadis Hall on the Parham Road Campus.

The session featured “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel – a story about a young girl named Tita who has always known her destiny: to remain single and care for her aging mother. When she falls in love, her mother quickly scotches the liaison and tyrannically dictates that Tita's sister Rosaura must marry the luckless suitor, Pedro, in her place. But Tita has one weapon left--her cooking.

Through a vivid and thoughtful presentation, Jackie brought the book and the Mexican culture to life. The audience was also treated to delicious, artisanal chocolates created by JSRCC Chef Jesse Miller and his group of pastry arts students.

Sponsored by JSRCC’s Multicultural Enrichment Council, the final book discussion of the year will be on March 29 and will feature Rebecca Skloot’sThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”  

The Places You’ll Go

When Jim Allison entered the Peace Corps, he carried more with him than a curiosity at seeing the world.  With his just-earned Engineering AS degree from Reynolds, Jim spent the late Eighties installing water systems in the Philippines. Sharing a laugh with his wife Milette, who he met while there, Jim recalls, “I think the boarding house we lived in charged 100 bucks a month. But, those were great times.” 
Like so many J. Sarge alumni, Jim’s “road to Reynolds” story is particularly fascinating because he was an adult student when he made the decision to enroll.  Growing up in Northern Virginia, Jim first attended college as a student at Randolph-Macon, which brought him closer to Richmond.  “And, I’d always worked construction. But, recruiters and head hunters kept asking me if I’d ever thought of becoming an engineer. I heard it from so many folks that I decided to take a serious look at it, and that’s how I ended up at Reynolds.”  It was a completely different academic experience for Jim – and, he flourished in it.
“The odd thing is that I’d just squeaked by at Randolph-Macon.  Then, I got to Reynolds and everything turned around.  The job of Reynolds is to prepare you for the next step and they do it incredibly well.  For instance, the professors are there to teach; their focus isn’t on publishing.  And, because of that, they are excellent instructors.”  In particular, Jim credits Dr. M.L. Foy and Fred McConnell for the fundamentals of engineering he learned in their classrooms. 
Jim recalls a time when his study group was meeting on a Sunday afternoon.  They were stumped by a math problem and decided to call their instructor at home.  “He actually drove in from Short Pump, and this was when Short Pump was really the country.  He drove in just to give us an extra lesson.  Not many professors would necessarily do that.” 
After Reynolds, Jim headed to Virginia Tech where he earned his Master’s Degree in Engineering. He worked as an engineer for the City of Richmond before leaving to help Milette run the couple’s business, a successful childcare center in Midlothian called The Learning Playhouse.  
Since 2007, Jim and Milette Allison have supported JSRCC as donors, adding precious resources to the college’s annual fund, the Fund for Reynolds. “I always figured I would give back.  It’s a fine school and I’ve had a number to compare it to.  For what it wants to do, Reynolds simply does it the best.” 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bowling for scholarships

Over 60 enthusiastic faculty, staff, board members and supporters hit the bowling lanes recently to raise money for the JSRCC Classified Council Scholarship. Hosting the 9th annual JSRCC Scholarship Bowl, Classified Council raised over $1,000 this year and has netted more than $10,000 for student scholarships since the inception of the annual event.

ongratulations to Donna Sheppard who won the high score award, posting a 337 and to the “Healthy Rollers” who rolled the best overall team score. Team “Going for It” came in 2nd place, followed by team “Great Expectations.”

Classified Council would like to thank all supporters, and wants to remind everyone it is never too early to start practicing for next year!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis visits Reynolds

In his most recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama issued a challenge to train 2 million Americans and place them in middle-class careers through community college-employer partnerships. In a recent visit to the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Downtown Campus, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis discussed this and other initiatives at a roundtable with African American business leaders in the Greater Richmond Region.

Billed as the “State of the Union Roundtable and its meaning to the African American Community,” the forum was moderated by JSRCC President Dr. Gary Rhodes. After an introduction by Dr. Barbara Glenn, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Secretary Solis addressed the participants and then engaged in an open dialogue covering employment challenges, training opportunities, federal funding initiatives, and  faith-based and community partnerships.

“We need to help businesses by making it easier for them to reach these college students,” noted Solis. “We need to reach those that need our help and create opportunities for these students to be successful.”
Secretary Solis was first elected to public office in 1985 as a member of the Rio Hondo Community College Board of Trustees. She served in the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1994, and in 1994 made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the California State Senate. As the chairwoman of the California Senate Industrial Relations Committee, she led the battle to increase the state's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour in 1996. She also authored a record seventeen state laws aimed at combating domestic violence. She was confirmed as Secretary of Labor on February 24, 2009.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Academy Award winner speaks at JSRCC for Black History Month

(L-R) Robert Agaba, Lily Mirjahangiri and Willie Burton

“The Help” movie sound mixer and two-time Academy Award winner Willie Burton recently spoke at the College as a part of the Multicultural Enrichment Council’s Black History Month programming.  Burton is credited with breaking barriers for African-Americans and minorities entering the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in the 1970’s. His accomplishments include two Oscars for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (Dreamgirls) and Best Sound (Bird). He also won a British Academy Award in 1983 for War Games. Burton encouraged the audience not to lose focus on their personal and professional goals. “Character, spirituality and the relationships you foster are keys to success,” he said. “Believe in yourself, keep the faith and keep on fighting to achieve your dreams.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

FIRST PERSON: Meet Alumnus Matt Vinson

I am so thankful for the clear vision that I have had for my life and for God’s guidance and help to achieve my goals.  My name is Matthew Vinson and I am a 2008 graduate of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (JSRCC) and a 2010 graduate of the University Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.  It had been my dream since high school to become a civil engineer and to work in that field. 

After graduating from high school, I enrolled at JSRCC full time in the Engineering Associates degree program.  The education and activities at JSRCC prepared me as a person and a student to go onto bigger things in life.  One of those things was to transfer to the University of Virginia to complete my four-year degree.  The community college made this easier by having transfer days each semester where representatives from four-year universities presented information on their specific programs and transfer agreements.  Establishing contacts and receiving information from various colleges definitely helped me in my transfer process.  Applying for department scholarships was another valuable aid.  Good grades and my clear goal of becoming a civil engineer were beneficial in winning several scholarships throughout my scholastic years. I am thankful that I only accepted loans for one year at UVA—this kept my total debt below $10,000. 

After a year and a half of part-time civil engineering work at Willmark Engineering in Ashland, I finally got full-time work as a contractor for Dominion Virginia Power.  I am working in the Electric Transmission Operations group, at their headquarters in downtown Richmond.  This is an exciting new field of engineering and I am hoping to be brought on as a permanent employee soon.  The timing of this job was an answer to prayer.  My wife, Heather and I had a one year old, Noelle, and were expecting another one, when I started the new position in December.  Now we are a family of four with the birth of our second daughter, Vera.  This job provides steady work and a healthy income enabling me to provide for my family.  I am so glad that I am not over burdened with college debt, thanks to the Virginia Community College System and the numerous scholarships at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and the University of Virginia.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Creating great nurses for Richmond

Nursing Retention Specialist Carol Rodi
tutors Reynolds nursing students.
Carol Rodi sits among a small group of JSRCC nursing students at the College’s Academic Support Center. You can tell by the discussion that these students are nearing graduation. You can sense their anxiety too.  Rodi’s throwing out “what if” scenarios of a patient presenting cardiac symptoms. And she’s asking for quick answers.

“When do you defibrillate? And what about blood thinners? What do you need to know?” she asks.

Many of these students are gearing up for final nursing exams. Rodi, the College’s nursing retention specialist, spends most of her time tutoring nursing students so they are prepared. It’s clear she’s good at it, since so many graduates have thanked her personally at their pinning ceremony.

“For some students, I guess I do help them study for and pass that final exam,” she says. “But for most of them, I really think I give them a broader understanding of caring for their patients…I put what they’ve learned into real situations. If their patient is in trouble and they’re having certain symptoms, what do they [our nursing graduates] do?”

As one tutoring session ends, Rodi makes her way down the hall from the Academic Support Center to a classroom, explaining that the next session needs a larger room to accommodate the group. Before she can unlock the door, a student shouts, “Please say you’ll be tutoring us today.”

Rodi has a master’s degree in Nursing. Before Reynolds, she worked as a critical care nurse in a burn center for a large healthcare system. However, she believes the associate degree level of nursing education is the most important. For her, she says, it was the most difficult. She received her RN from a college in a small town and says that Reynolds students are incredibly fortunate to complete their clinical requirements at VCU Health System.

“This level is so important because this is the level we put it all together,” she said.

Rodi’s position is grant funded through the College’s Academic Support Center. She was initially hired through a grant aimed at increasing nursing graduation rates.