Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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