Monday, December 11, 2017

“I Pay Attention”

Jeremiah Meadows says, “I pay attention”. His smile is warm, his manner attentive, and there is not a shred of doubt he is paying attention, processing, thinking and planning. When asked if he would be willing to come back to Reynolds in May to talk about his experience at VCU where he is headed in January, he pulls out his phone and sets up a calendar reminder. Impressive.

Jeremiah admittedly wasn’t always passionate about academics. He was home schooled and didn’t get a good perspective on the value of education until later when he began exploring his own ideas and interests. Jeremiah has been on his own financially since he turned 20.

Jeremiah’s first real classroom experience came at Reynolds. For a student who had struggled for years to learn independently, to solve his own problems and answer his own questions without the benefit of teachers, coming in to a welcoming environment that offered a community of learners was the spark that set his love of learning on fire. He said, “Now I enter every class ready to learn and engaged. Whether or not the subject is directly related to my studies [biology!] doesn’t matter, I can always take away a lesson.”

Jeremiah, like many of the Honors Students, said he delayed going to college until he knew what he wanted to do. He needed a goal. Instead of heading to college – the easier path that his parents supported – he went to work. He had been working since age 14 so the choice seemed clear. By the time he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life he had worked in a hardware store, for an answering service, as a server at a resort, and as a 911 dispatcher. Currently he works 20 hours each week for Chesterfield County in addition to carrying a course load of 12 or 13 credit hours. 10 of those credit hours are Honors Courses. Again, impressive.

Now that it’s time to leave Reynolds, Jeremiah is reluctant to go. “My experience at Reynolds has been so incredible. The professors have made a huge difference. I am so grateful for the relationships I have made with them. They have always been willing to help and they do a fantastic job of teaching. What I have learned here is so valuable. Not just what is in the textbooks, but for example, Professor Teresa Creech’s class discussion format sharpened my analytical skills and Professor Robert Tyson opened my eyes to my path in life. Then there is the community of learners who inspired me, kept me on track, and became my friends. It’s very hard to leave these relationships.”
To any student thinking about coming to Reynolds, Jeremiah had this to say: “Reynolds is a very welcoming environment. It’s not judgmental. Students are free to be themselves, to explore and express ideas. There is much less pressure. Reynolds is a smart choice for many reasons, certainly financially, but more important, it is a smart choice academically.”

Best of luck to you, Jeremiah. Your professors and fellow students are going to miss you terribly, but no doubt they will be glad they knew you.

Jeremiah Meadows graduates from Reynolds in December as an Honors Scholar. The Honors Scholar designation means Jeremiah has completed the full Honors curriculum and is eligible, per Reynolds transfer agreements, for direct admission to VCU or JMU Honors College.

Earlier this semester, when asked about his future plans, Jeremiah had this to say: “My transfer to VCU this spring (2018) is underway, where I will double-major in Political Science and Philosophy. After that, my course could change or divert. Currently, I wish to attend Harvard Law School after I receive my baccalaureate degree. However, I could find myself on an academic path toward a deeper pursuit of philosophical study where I may go to graduate school for the discipline. My primary goal for my future career is to work toward eliminating the stark socioeconomic inequality that exists both inside and outside of the United States.”

Meet Louis Luchsinger 

Automotive Technology – Program Head & Instructor

Where did you grow up? If not in Richmond, how long have you lived here, and what brought you here?
I was born and raised in northern New Jersey, just across the river from NYC. I have not officially moved here yet. I rent an apartment near Goochland, and commute back to my home and family in NJ on most weekends. We have purchased property nearby, and are in the early stages of having a house built. The opportunity to work here at Reynolds introduced me to the area, the friendly people and beautiful countryside cinched the deal.

When and why did you get involved with cars?
My father owned a service station when I was in my early teens, and I helped out there a lot. I developed a strong passion for cars and motorcycles, became a true gearhead, and started racing during my high school years. It has developed into an extremely rewarding, and satisfying career, doing something I have always loved.

How long have you worked for Reynolds?
It will be two years this January.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Teaching my craft, and seeing my students’ reaction when it finally “clicks”, and they truly understand what they’ve been taught and how to use it. 

What is the best car you have ever owned and why?
I have had so many, I could never pick just one. So I will talk of my current project car, a 1980 Lotus Elite. It is a unique vehicle with many early British vehicle challenges, but it helps to keep me reminded of the brilliant minds such as Colin Chapman’s, that have influenced automobile design throughout history. 

How about the worst car? And why?
That same Lotus Elite. It is an early British vehicle with the everyday issues of cars from that era. (Still glad I own it, but it is something I can gripe about when I need to complain.)

What advice would you give someone buying a new car today?
Buy only what you need, the technology changes so quickly. Be aware, great strides are being made in electric vehicles. They are evolving quickly, and will likely be a serious consideration in the not so distant future.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
Spend time with my family (especially my grandchildren), attend or participate in automotive, racing and country music events. 

You’ve just won the Mega Millions jackpot. What are you going to do first?
Provide for my family’s needs, my grandchildren’s education, check a few things off my “bucket list”, and give back to the communities which enabled me to pursue my passions.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Two Community College Initiatives Set to Serve Veterans

Reynolds Community College Veterans Resource Center
The Reynolds Veterans Resource Center was recently recognized by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) as part of the Commonwealth’s VERITAS program (Veteran Education Resource Initiative for Transition, Advising and Success). Reynolds is one of seven community colleges in Virginia to house a Veterans Resource Center.

(L to R: Reynolds Veterans Coordinator Herman West, VERITAS Liaison Chequana Boisseau, Reynolds President Dr. Gary Rhodes)

“These centers are a central hub for all veteran activities on campus. They are a quiet place for students to study; and they enable veterans to connect with each other, helping them renew the bonds of military service,” says VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois.
Other community colleges included in the VERITAS program are Germanna, John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Thomas Nelson, Tidewater and Virginia Western.

 Credits2Careers – New VCCS Online Portal for Veterans and Military Students

Thanks to a new portal created by the VCCS, veterans and military students will now have an easier time earning credit for prior learning. Credits2Careers will allow veterans and service members to upload their Joint Services Transcript to see instantly how their experience can translate into academic credits at more than 1,700 community college programs.  The portal also provides real-time employment information and enables users to explore civilian careers related to their area of expertise or interest. Credits2Careers can be accessed at
“Today’s announcement means our community colleges are the only college system in the nation with this comprehensive, patent-pending tool,” said Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. “The Credits2Careers online tool will make it easier than ever before for our men and women in uniform to find a career path to transition from their service to civilian life. This portal will save individuals time, money, and hassle as they look for an accelerated way into the civilian workforce.”
Virginia’s Community Colleges served 36,868 veterans and military-related students last year. This tool positions the colleges to attract and help even more of these students.
To find out more about the Reynolds Veterans Resource Center, visit or call the center at 523-5656.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Meet Sergeant William Judon - 

Police Sergeant, CIT Officer*, RAD Instructor**, Reynolds Department of Police

How long have you worked at Reynolds and what are your responsibilities as a Reynolds Police Officer? 
I've worked at Reynolds Community College since 2000. I originally started in a work study position in the library before accepting a part time position doing audio-visual within the Department of Technology at the Parham Road Campus. Currently, I'm the evening shift supervisor located at the Downtown Campus. 
My additional responsibilities include teaching the women’s self defense course here and at other colleges, Crisis Intervention Instructor, and working special events with the police department’s DUI simulator. 

What do you like best about working at Reynolds? 
Interacting with students, faculty, and staff. 

What do you like best about working in law enforcement?  
Over the years I’ve manage to see a number of individuals that I’ve interacted with that have made mistakes at the college, either come back to finish what they’ve started or pursue other worthy endeavors. It’s always a great feeling to see them striving towards positive goals. 

What was the best advice you were given when you looked at going into the law enforcement field? 
A retired New York Police detective told me to stay grounded when dealing with any individual from a murderer to a regular citizen, and remember the motto of Police is to Protect Others Lives In Case Emergency. 

We know you like to grill and BBQ – what is your favorite thing to grill and give us your favorite grilling tip? 
Favorite cut of meat to smoke would be brisket. Two favorite tips would be to take your time and enjoy the process - most people don’t take the time to get whatever wood used down to coals. When smoking make sure that the smoke coming from your grill is a thin blue smoke as opposed to white, or gray which could lead to a bitter taste. 

We heard you like to go on cruises - how many cruises have you been on and what would be your dream cruise? 
My wife and I have gone on six cruises together. Currently we are waiting for our son to grow up to take him and experience the different states. 

Any future cruises scheduled? 
Not at this time. 

Any other hobbies other than grilling and cruising? 
Currently a group of friends and I are preparing to start our youth basketball league. 60 youth between the ages of 13-17, practice and play a season in Henrico County’s east end. We’ve managed this league for 10 plus seasons from December to February. Every child that has played in our league does so free of charge. 

If you won the $100,000,000 lottery, what would be the first thing you would do with the money? 
I would invest in three things: my son’s education, my master’s martial arts school, and our youth basketball league. 

What would be the one superpower you wished you had?
I’ve always loved Marvel comics’ characters in my youth, so I would want to have Wolverine’s healing factor.

* CII = Crisis Intervention Instructor
** RAD = Rape, Aggression, Defense Instructor

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

PTK Induction Ceremony

Reynolds Community College’s Chapters of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society recently inducted 86 new members recently at their annual fall induction ceremony. Students who have completed 12 transferable credit hours and have a 3.3 cumulative GPA are invited to join PTK every fall and spring semester. 

Matthew Shapiro delivered a motivational speech as the keynote speaker, emphasizing to the students their responsibility to serve and to lead.  Matthew who lives with cerebral palsy, has spent most of his life striving to teach those he has met how to better understand the disability community – he even has his own business: 6 Wheels Consulting. The name references his wheelchair, including its two hidden wheels. As the CEO of 6 Wheels Consulting, Shapiro works daily to expand his client’s understanding of disabilities, and to give them knowledge they can use in any environment.

“Take the idea of service and leadership and scholarship and continue to do good,” said Mr. Shapiro talking to the PTK inductees. “Make this recognition you are receiving today mean something by embodying the ideals of Phi Theta Kappa – make your communities better – make your school better.”

Established in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society serves to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students and provide opportunities for individual growth and development through honors, leadership and service programming.  Reynolds has two chapters at the college.  The Alpha Iota Beta chapter represents members enrolled in programs at the Parham Road Campus and the Alpha Gamma Omicron chapter represents members enrolled in programs at the Goochland and Downtown campuses.  Since 1997 when the Reynolds’ Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Gamma Omicron Chapter was founded, Reynolds has inducted nearly 7,000 students into PTK. 


The President,

No Cell Phones

The dress code was definitely student-casual, but the attitude was all business. During the hour on Wednesday, November 8 when Reynolds Community College President Dr. Gary Rhodes shared his wisdom and insights about leadership with the current group of Reynolds Honors students there were serious faces, close listening, evidence of processing of deep thoughts, and pizza. What there wasn’t, was cell phones.

Reynolds Honors students are serious. They have goals. They have ambitions. They are looking for opportunities to succeed. And, they are mature enough to forego social media to listen and learn.

Dr. Rhodes began his talk by pointing out his “uniform”. For the day he was wearing the custodial staff uniform: khaki pants and burgundy shirt with the Reynolds logo. His title, he told the students, is bigger than he is. As a leader, he leads from the front, but he acknowledges all those following his guidance.

Dr. Rhodes is not new to talking about leadership. He has presented his list of leadership values and tips statewide in a number of venues. Of utmost importance is, he told the students, is knowing your values. Sometimes that involves asking yourself questions like the one he always asks himself: “Is today’s decision in the best interest of our students?” He asks that question so often he had it embossed on coffee cups and added to a print hanging on the walls of many Reynolds conference rooms.

Other values Dr. Rhodes shared with the students were the importance of caring and of doing your very best at whatever you do, of holding yourself accountable, of leading with respect, of making a good first impression, of maintaining a life balance – but, perhaps most important: Dr. Rhodes emphasized finding their passion, and following it. “When you pursue your passion,” he said, “then you’ll get up every day and life will be an exciting adventure.” Great leadership is sure to follow.

Before ending with a Q&A session, Dr. Rhodes shared a final story to illustrate the difference between reality and the perception of reality, and how the perception of reality is often more powerful than reality itself. The story was a mix of dilemma, ethics, philosophy, and the how the intention to do right doesn’t always come out as planned. Should the opportunity arise, ask Dr. Rhodes about his baby goose story.

“We teach the Honors students to be engaged, to be leaders,” said Ashley Bourne-Richardson, Honors Program Faculty Coordinator and Professor of English at Reynolds. “Today was great! The students were engaged. They took notes and they listened intently. It was so exciting for them that the president of the college took the time to talk to them and share his knowledge and experience. Some of these students intend to go on to leadership roles, as I looked around the room I could see they were really interested in getting the perspective of someone with years of experience.”

The four pillars of the Reynolds Honors program are critical thinking, independent research, interdisciplinary learning, and engagement. From the questions they asked Dr. Rhodes, the students demonstrated these qualities and more. Clearly they are looking for ways to navigate their future, to be great at the lives they are about to begin, and to make a difference in a world that needs their energy and passion.

When the session was over the room erupted in twenty different intense conversations, the noise and energy was high and contagious. Fueled by pizza and Dr. Rhodes’ advice, eventually they moved on to face their next classes, their jobs, and whatever other challenges were to come their way that day.