Monday, December 22, 2014

Reynolds Gives

It has often been said that the most important word in the college’s name is “community” and over the last few weeks Reynolds faculty, staff and students have been carrying on the tradition of helping out the less fortunate in our community.

With the winter cold fast approaching, the college created a “warming tree” to collect hats, mittens, gloves, scarfs, infant items and personal hygiene items that were donated to Richmond’s Family Lifeline organization. Located in the City of Richmond, Lifeline is designed to bring health and hope directly into the homes of Central Virginia’s most vulnerable children, families, and seniors. Over 200 items were donated to help assist some of our community’s needy in the upcoming months.

A number of Reynolds employees also volunteered recently at the Salvation Army of Central Virginia distribution center as part of the Angel Tree program, which assists thousands of parents in Central Virginia with emergency assistance. According to the Salvation Army, for many kids, the gifts they receive through Angel Tree will be the only ones they open on Christmas Day.

Also because many of the local elementary schools’ fall school supplies run short throughout the year, Reynolds is conducting a school supply drive. The college hopes to deliver 400 new school supplies including crayons, glue, paper, pencils, notebooks and erasers to the City of Richmond’s Westover Hills Elementary School in January.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reynolds Hosts Successful Transfer Information Night

As many eager-eyed prospective students filled the Gallery at Georgiadis Hall, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College was ready to kick off their Transfer Information Night on Wednesday, December 3rd. As each student and parent entered, they were handed a packet of information on Reynolds’ guaranteed transfer agreements with the many colleges in attendance.

Proceeding to the exhibit presentation area, the perimeter of the room was filled with college representatives from around the state. Those in attendance included Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and James Madison University.

With the students and parents settled into their seats, the presentation began with a short introduction from Tracy Green, Director of Outreach and Recruitment at Reynolds. Christine Joseph, Recruitment Coordinator, spoke about Reynolds transfer options and played a short video of an alumnus who utilized the transfer program and is now in a successful career.

Robin Beale, Transfer Counselor, came up to speak about the requirements when applying and everything that Reynolds has to offer. She then greeted all eleven admission representatives from each college to come up to the stage to briefly introduce themselves. Each representative stood up and introduced the crowd with their name, the college they were representing, and what their particular college was looking for from a transfer student at Reynolds.

As each representative stood up, many spoke about specific grade point averages to attain, while both the VCU and UVA representatives said preparedness is a huge entity that each college looks for in a student. They said they want to see that the classes the student took here at Reynolds were all in preparation for a certain path that the student would like take at either UVA or VCU.

Jane Todd, Assistant Director for Virginia Tech’s undergraduate admissions office, spoke about logistics for applying as a transfer student. She also expanded her introduction by saying that “over 65% of our transfer students come from community college, so it shows that you can get those courses right here at Reynolds and it is a very viable way to transfer.”

As the presentation began to wrap up, the students and parents were advised to make their way around the room to visit the different college representative’s booths and gather as much information as needed.

Christine Joseph said, “This was the greatest amount in attendance with about 100 participants” based on any other year that Reynolds has hosted this event. She also said that “based on the evaluations, students and parents would like to see more transfer college representatives in the future which is a great sign.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Phi Theta Kappa honor society inductee Crystal Stephens excels as a Reynolds student and Reynolds employee

Crystal Stephens with Dr. Gary Rhodes at the PTK Induction Ceremony

Crystal Stephens is an extraordinary individual who works as a staff member at Reynolds while also pursuing her degree in Business Administration. Fellow student and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member Dylan Chapman recently interviewed Crystal to find out the challenges and rewards of working at Reynolds, while also returning to the classroom.

D.C. - What is your position as an employee, and as a student, here at Reynolds Community College?  

C.S - I have been working for Reynolds Community College since November 2013 as the Custodial Supervisor on Parham Road Campus.  This is my third semester at Reynolds Community College and my major is in Business Administration.  I’m currently working towards my Certificate in Entrepreneurship in Small Business. 

D.C. - Why are you pursuing a degree while already employed? Are you changing careers, starting a new major or looking for professional development? 

C.S - I am currently pursuing a degree for my own professional development.  Not only would I like to move up in rank within the department, but one day in the near future, I would like to own a commercial cleaning business contracting to state government agencies. 

D.C. - Describe what it is like being a part-time/full-time employee at the college you are studying at. How is it scheduling-wise, and what do you take from your studies to apply to your job? 

C.S - While working full-time and studying part-time it is indeed hard to juggle that “work-life” balance.  Both work and studying require constant attention, however it causes the personal life to go lacking thereof.  Weekdays are now dedicated to my job as well as school duties and my weekends are solely for my personal life.

D.C. - What are your accomplishments as an employee and as a student here at Reynolds Community College? What have these accomplishments meant to you and how have they helped you develop? 

C.S - During the Fall Convocation, on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 I received the Grande LEAPer award.  On Saturday, November 1, 2014 I was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa.  Being inducted into Phi Theta Kappa is most certainly an honor and acknowledges the accomplishments that I have made.

D.C - Do you feel that it is important to continue learning in some form despite being employed? Do you feel further education in some form helps an employee’s performance?

C.S - I think that it is very important for individuals to continue learning even while employed as entry level credentials are increasing along with skill requirements.  The demands of the industry are always changing, the software is always becoming more complex, expectations are always on the rise, and given the opportunity to take courses will help enhance our skills making us more marketable.

Reynolds student Dylan Chaplin - Dylan is serving as a PR Assistant and a Student Ambassador this fall. He also served as the Vice-President of The H.E.A.R.T Service, which is a community service and civic engagement club designed to create connections between Reynolds and its surrounding communities. During his first two semesters at Reynolds he successfully completed the college's Leadership Program, JSR LEAD.  In his spare time he likes to blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Deep Run High School Students visit Reynolds for Drone Flight

On a bitter fall day in November, twenty Deep Run High School Air Force ROTC students traveled to Reynolds Community College to examine and fly a Caron East GPS-surveying drone above campus grounds.

Caron East is one of the biggest distributors of the type of drone that the students launched. The company is also known for mapping all types of geographic locations, from local colleges all the way to mapping the Swiss Alps.

Wen Andrews, professor and program head for the Department of Architectural and Civil Engineering Technology at Reynolds, made this event possible by bringing together Caron East drone experts and the Deep Run High School students.

As the students stepped off of the bus, the drone was placed on the athletic fields for its flight. As the students circled around, the functions and operation of the drone were discussed. A Caron East expert also explained how the drone route was pre-programmed. After the launch of the drone, the students watched it soar up into the sky making perfectly aligned trajectories above the field where they stood.

After about 10 minutes of flying time, the drone circled around and flew back in for a landing on the grass. The students gathered nearby for a quick recap before heading into a classroom.

As the students filed into the computer-filled classroom, Wen Andrews and the drone expert brought up special software that showed the trajectory that the drone took, as well as the photos the drone procured throughout its mission. The students discussed different aspects of the software as well as safety tips, planned vs. actual inflight information, and general use of the software program.

Overall, the effect of this event on the students was immense. Senior Master Sergeant Mark Granger, Deep Run High School Air Force ROTC instructor, spoke about the benefit of this opportunity. “The drone event was a huge success for our students. We use this technology in the Air Force for several different applications, however the information about agriculture use was interesting. We have implemented that application into the new lesson plan for our cadets. They were excited about the technology and agility of the drone, as was I,” stated S.M. Sergeant Granger.

Major Patrick Scholle, also an instructor for the Air Force ROTC program at Deep Run High School, was also in attendance and believed this to be a great learning experience. “I was thrilled,” stated Scholle, “it was a really neat opportunity to take our students over there and expose them to that kind of up-and-coming technology and give them the opportunity to see what is out there. We read about it in books but to be able to hold the drone and see it fly was amazing.”

Instead of just sitting in a classroom hearing about drones and GPS technology this event gave the high school students a chance to visit a college campus, actually watch a drone at work, and then go into a classroom and see the data captured by the drone.

“This event also allowed us to introduce the students to J. Sargeant Reynolds and show them that this is also a great step to where they may want to get to in life,” stated S.M. Sergeant Granger as the drone flew it’s path overhead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Adoption, Foster Care and Great Expectations

By mid-November the days are shorter, the weather cooler, and the holidays are just around the corner.  Home for the holidays is a common theme this time of year.  But, what if you were a child or teenager in foster care without a permanent home and family? Suddenly the holidays don’t seem so warm and inviting. Did you know that there are more than 800 children available for adoption in Virginia’s foster care system?  November is National Adoption Month.

Debbie Johnston, Founder and President of Care Advantage, Inc., a home health care company, was recently named Virginia’s Adoption Champion by Governor Terry McAuliffe and she is passionate about helping children find families. Johnston was adopted by a loving Virginia family at the age of 3 and she credits her success to the strong foundation that her family provided.

 “This initiative is extremely close to my heart, and I will work tirelessly in my new position as Adoption Champion to find homes for our Commonwealth’s exceptional foster children,” said Johnston upon accepting her new role. As Virginia’s Adoption Champion she hopes to be a voice for foster care children, work to raise awareness about adoption, and help raise funds for programs that assist foster children. 

Johnston is a current member of the Reynolds Community College Foundation Board that is devoted to securing private resources to help support Reynolds and its students

One such program, Great Expectations, is offered at Reynolds. Johnston noted, “Great Expectations is such a great program!  It really fills a need for the older kids in foster care.” The Great Expectations Program works with youth, aged 17 to 24 who are or have been in foster care, to complete high school, gain access to a community college education and transition successfully from the foster care system to living independently.  Without social or family support, foster care children experience significant challenges living on their own, but with access to education foster care youth can find satisfying, well-paying jobs.

Sophia Booker and her twin sister Bridgette entered foster care at the age of 7 after being removed from an abusive home.  After living in multiple foster homes, the twins were adopted at the age of 14 by their then foster mother. Sophia, currently a Great Expectations student at Reynolds, credits her GE coach Dedra Hampton with keeping her on track in pursuit of her education. She plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University next fall and pursue a degree in social work, and although she will be leaving Reynolds and moving on to VCU, she knows that her Great Expectations coach will continue to play a big role in her life.

Booker’s long-term goal for her career is to give back and help other foster care youth – particularly the older foster youth who need help with education and independent living skills. In fact, she is already giving back - by working at Project LIFE as its Youth Network Coordinator. Project LIFE (Living Independently, Focusing on Empowerment) is a partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services and United Methodist Family Services whose mission is to enhance the successful transition of older foster youth to adulthood. 

Let’s hope that by next year when we approach the holiday season most of the 800 children waiting for a permanent home in Virginia will truly be “home” for the holidays.

For more information on the Great Expectations Program at Reynolds Community College please 
For more information on National Adoption Month please visit