Friday, July 27, 2018

Reynolds Gooden-Seay Chosen for VALOR Program

Reynolds Community College is pleased to announce that Jacqueline Gooden-Seay, Adjunct Faculty in the School of Math, Science & Engineering at Reynolds Community College, has been chosen as a member of the Cohort IV group of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program to begin in September 2018.

The Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program, the commonwealth's premier agriculture-leadership training program, is housed at Virginia Tech within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. VALOR is a two-year training program that includes experiential travel, leadership discourse, and networking designed to prepare fellows to undertake leadership roles facilitating community problem-solving and promoting Virginia agriculture – communicating its realities, vigor, and needs – in forums in, and outside of, the industry.

VALOR is one of about 40 agricultural leadership programs active in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Agricultural leadership programs use a research-based experiential learning approach that builds professional leadership skills in the context of agriculture. In addition to on-the-ground agriculture, agricultural policy and communications are included in visits to the state and national capitals. An international experience crowns each VALOR program by couching Virginia agriculture in the context of world trade, cooperation, and global connectivity. 

Fellows meet every other month for two years to train, network, and travel throughout Virginia’s nine distinct agricultural regions. Professional and personal development themes for these seminars include agriculture trade and communicating with others, urban agriculture and national agriculture policy, team building and collaboration, and communicating the industry, among others.

“Seminar content is a hybrid of ‘must keep’ content from previous years and new experiences unique for each class. As a result, our entire group of current and past VALOR fellows has a broader collective knowledge of the great diversity and impact represented by the many facets of Virginia agriculture,” said Seibel.

As they travel, VALOR fellows are hosted by agricultural leaders who illustrate regional realities, challenges, and innovations on their family farms, dairies, livestock and produce operations, urban greenhouses, crop fields, fishing boats, and forests.

Congratulations, Jacqueline.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Reynolds Hosts James River Art League 

Annual Judged Show

Crisp lines, bright reds, oranges, and greens against blue. Muted yellows, purples, soften by shades of white. Animals to apples. Lighthouses to little girls. Beaches to barns. The work of the artists of the James River Art League (JRAL) spans as wide a spectrum as the color wheel.

Reynolds Community College is pleased to host the JRAL Annual Judged Exhibit in the Conference Center Gallery in the Workforce Development and Conference Center on its Parham Road Campus. The Show is open from Wednesday, September 5 to Thursday, November 8. Faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to view work by these talented regionally and nationally recognized artists. An open reception will be held Thursday, October 4 from 6 to 8 p.m.

JRAL is one of Richmond’s oldest art groups. Organized in 1964, the group celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. JRAL artists work in a variety of media including oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, graphite, collage, silk screen, scratchboard, and sculpture. JRAL is a nonprofit organization with more than 120 juried members from throughout Central Virginia. The goal of the group is to encourage creation and appreciation of the visual arts. Members receive motivation, support, and education through programs and opportunities to exhibit their work. JRAL also maintains a gallery at the Crossroads Art Center at 2016 Staples Mill Road in Richmond which houses member exhibits rotated every two months. 

The JRAL show will be judged by the “Reynolds Art Duo,” professors Meredith and Tony Mullins. The Mullins are artists and teachers of art at Reynolds. They have been married for 19 years and have been teaching together for nearly 14 years. Meredith’s current works focus on the female figure in contemplative moments of rituals and routines. Tony’s paintings are explosions of color and recognizable faces such as Johnny Cash and Prince. The Mullins’ work is being exhibited in the Conference Center Gallery from Thursday, July 5 until Tuesday, September 4.

Show awards will be given in the categories of Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, and Other Media, and one work will be named Best-in-Show.

Pictured above: 2017 Award Winners, Top: Best in Show: Carol Mullen, “Woman in Grey” (Oil), and Bottom: Renee Gleason, “Casa Del Pellegrino” (Oil).

Reynolds 2018 Valley Proteins Fellow:
Grace Swal is One of Ten.

Angela Graves was one of ten in 2016. Donald Cooper was one of ten in 2017. Now, Reynolds Community College Honors student Grace Swal is one of ten in 2018. For the third consecutive year a Reynolds student has been chosen to be a Valley Proteins Fellow. Of the more than 250,000 students served by Virginia Community Colleges each year, only 10 second-year students are selected for the prestigious Valley Proteins Fellowship Program administered by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. 

“I failed the first time out,” Grace Swal says candidly about her first attempt at college ten years ago. “This is my second chance.” And, what a second chance it is for her. Grace was accepted into the Reynolds Honors program, has maintained a 4.0 grade point average during her time at Reynolds, and now in her second year has been selected as a Valley Proteins Fellow. Perhaps what Grace views as a failure is at the root of her amazing success. 

What was different on Grace’s second try at college? First, Grace was different. And, second, the college she chose was different. “My experience at Reynolds has been amazing from the git-go,” Grace said. She credits the Reynolds Honors program and Professor Ashley Bourne-Richardson with helping her develop the confidence and maturity she needed to pursue her dreams. “The Honors program has made all the difference for me. It gave me the opportunity to explore my options. It challenged me in ways I never expected. It made me realize I could shoot higher.”

Shooting higher has become Grace’s mantra: “I don’t just want to be in the field. I want to be an expert in the field,” she repeats this frequently and without hesitation. Her “field” when she graduates from Reynolds will be Business Administration and Social Sciences. Her “field” when she goes for her bachelor’s degree, then her master’s degree, and ultimately her doctorate, is Public Administration and Gender Studies. Her list of four-year colleges is long and includes the top institutions. Harvard? “Why not,” she asks, “the worst they can do is say no.” 

“Being chosen as a Valley Proteins Fellow is incredible. It will give me an opportunity to prove myself as a leader and to develop my networking skills. My goal is to gain the knowledge and confidence to be an expert, to be able to look another professional in the eye, stand my ground and feel comfortable leading discussions and sharing information in my field.”

The Valley Proteins Fellows program is made possible by the generous support of Valley Proteins, Inc., a Winchester-based rendering business operating for over 68 years with 15 plants in eight states. Valley Proteins management 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.”

The core mission of the Valley Proteins Fellows Program is helping promising, second-year students at Virginia’s community colleges pursue their academic goals and strengthen their leadership skills. The scholarship, combined with professional development, travel, and cultural opportunities, has an approximate value of $15,000. Fellows receive full tuition, book expenses and fees, and participate in a unique curriculum of intellectual and cultural activities. They also volunteer 80 hours of community service during the academic year to strengthen their leadership skills and develop a strong foundation for future success. Fellows are required to maintain a minimum 3.5 grade point average. 

Congratulations to Grace Swal. Keep shooting higher.

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College is the youngest and third largest of 23 community colleges in Virginia and serves over 16,000 students annually. The College operates three campuses easily accessible to residents in the City of Richmond and the counties of Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan and Louisa.


Reynolds Honor Student Ryan Lingo Volunteers at NASA Event

Ryan Lingo has a goal, but he isn’t waiting for that goal to materialize. He is going after it, one volunteer opportunity at a time. Ryan’s goal is this: he wants to work for NASA when he graduates from college. So right now, whether it’s serving as an Advocate at the annual Aerospace Day Conference (February 2018) or being a Student Coordinator at NASA’s International Space Station Downlink Event (July 2018), Ryan will be there. 

“Being a part of an event like this is truly a privilege, and one of the primary reasons why I want to work for NASA once I graduate from college.” The NASA Langley Research Center’s International Space Station (ISS) Downlink Event, held at the Virginia Air & Space Museum, was an opportunity for students to speak with an astronaut onboard the ISS in real time through a video chat. For this event astronaut Alex Gerst from the European Space Agency (ESA) spoke to the students and answered questions. After the downlink, students had the opportunity to explore the museum, meet with First Lady of Virginia Pamela Northam, and speak with NASA experts about the ISS and NASA’s role in future space exploration. 

Ryan’s roll at this event was to coordinate the groups of students, getting their lunches and moving them from their time with Gerst to the museum and answering their questions about NASA and space. He also helped with the NASA legislative delegation. “Questions from the students,” Ryan said, “ranged from “are you an astronaut?” to “how do telescopes work, and how far can you see into space with one?” Every event is a learning experience.

“The skills I have acquired through the Reynolds Honors program, such as communication and research skills, helped me be the best chaperone and mentor for all of the children I worked with.” Ryan also pointed out that had he not had the strong networking skills he honed by participating in the Honors program the NASA Education Specialists likely would not have chosen him to help with this event.

Ryan, we are proud of your persistence and look forward to the day when you can reach your goal and maybe even reach outer space!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Reynolds Professor and Graduate Team Up For Dragonfly Research

Reynolds Community College biology professor Dr. Richard Groover and Reynolds graduate Donald Cooper (May 2018) have teamed up to work on two of Groover’s summer ecology and business discipline research projects.  

Cooper catching dragonflies
One project involves the Hollows Golf Course in Hanover County. Groover and Cooper will research the effects of lake shore management to entice dragonfly abundance and variety by cutting less of the water’s edge vegetation. Groover states this will save the golf course the expense of hand trimming along the 12 acre lake, while an additional benefit for the golf course will be more dragonflies to eat mosquitoes that might bother the gofers. “The Hollows Research data will statistically support the outcome of more dragonflies due to this management practice,” added Groover.

The second project involves Groover’s three-year study of dragonflies at four of the National Park Battlefields in eastern Hanover. This study is supported by the National Park Service. In addition to making a record of all dragonflies residing in these park sites, Groover and Cooper are looking at the biodiversity of dragonflies on these protected lands with additional consideration of economic aspects.

Cooper recording data on dragonflies
"Working with Dr. Groover has been an illuminating experience with how I conduct research,” said Cooper. “I have always had an interdisciplinary approach to thinking and learning, so when I asked Dr. Groover if we could in some way tie economics to his study of Dragonflies, I was excited to hear that he had some ideas for us. It's even more exciting that our findings, through the support of collected data, may help a lot of people in the near future.”

Cooper completed his studies at Reynolds and has been accepted at the University of Virginia for the 2018 fall semester. He is a recipient of the Valley Proteins Summer Stipend program and was also a Coca-Cola Bronze Scholar and was in the Honors program while at Reynolds.

Groover’s research is partially funded by a Small Project Grant from the Virginia Academy of Science. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

For Jamal Brooks Success Started in the Middle

How do you go from leaving home at 16 without a high school diploma to a goal of getting a PhD from Howard University? Ask Jamal Brooks. He can tell you. Start in the Middle. Middle College, that is.

When Jamal left his Tappahannock home and headed for Richmond all he had was his clothes and a desire for a better life. He needed and wanted a high school diploma, but couldn’t pay for the classes. Then he heard about Reynolds. Then he heard “free program,” and his life was forever changed. 

“I was so nervous when I came to Reynolds the first time, but Ms. Epps [Middle College Specialist Jackie Epps] welcomed me right away. She made me feel right at home. She was like a second mom. Along the way I got help with math. Transportation was always an issue, and I got help with that. They told me I could do this. It was tremendous support and for once in my life I really felt like I could get my GED.”

Jamal never missed a day and by 2011 he had his GED and moved from Reynolds Middle College to Reynolds College classes. He made the Dean’s list every semester. When he left Reynolds for Virginia Commonwealth University he left with and Associates Degree in Social Science and certifications in General Education and ASL. “Everything I learned from Reynolds helped me succeed,” Jamal confided. “Especially time management. That was key for me. Being able to manage my study time and to be disciplined was everything. I was empowered with that knowledge.”

His journey wasn’t without its frustrations. He dropped out for a semester questioning whether all the work would pay off. Fortunately, a counselor intervened and set him back on his road to education. Transferring to VCU was overwhelming. At Reynolds his classes had 15 to 20 students, and they all became friends. When Jamal walked in to his first class at VCU he was confronted with 300 strangers. Again, an advisor intervened. “He told me to get to class early and sit on the front row so I couldn’t see everyone else,” Jamal said, “I did that the whole time I was there and I survived.” By the second semester he had found his comfort zone. 

Reynolds Middle College Director Mary Jo Washko had this to say about Jamal: “Jamal is what we would like every student to be. He is a great ambassador. I don’t know how many students he has recruited, but it is a lot. He has taken an incredibly active role in helping others improve their lives. He is so special because he came in to the program and took advantage of every opportunity that was given to him. He was open to mentoring, to volunteering, and to working hard. And, he kept coming back. He kept bringing others in and helping them succeed too. He is very determined to make a difference in the lives of others.” 

Jamal graduated magna cum laude from VCU in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. A tremendous accomplishment and a perfect career choice for one so focused on, and dedicated to, helping others overcome their circumstances and succeed. What’s next for Jamal? “As far as the steps I take in the next month, I’m not sure, I am looking at my options. Ultimately, my goal is to go to Howard University and someday get my PhD.” Keep in mind, Jamal is the first male in his family to earn a college degree.

Jamal also wants to be a role model to other students, his nieces and nephews, and generations to come. He was a mentor while at VCU and continues to offer help, “If you can support someone, it goes a long way. You can become the good voice in their head.” 

When asked what advice he would give others, Jamal quickly responds: “You can do it too.”

Maybe all you need to do is start in the Middle, like Jamal.

What is Reynolds Middle College?
Some young adults, for whatever reason, don’t finish high school. Middle College helps 18 to 24 year olds earn their GED while developing skills to move their lives forward to a career. And, the program is free. 
Originally Middle College was focused on helping students get a GED and move on to college. Today, the program’s horizons have broadened. It is still a bridge from “non-credit” to “credit” education, but the transition plan for students is more comprehensive. Remedial courses are still included, but they are offered along with workforce readiness courses. Not only do students get help with reading and math, their learning is integrated and curriculum is contoured along specific tracks. For example, if a student is interested in a career in healthcare, courses will be geared toward the information he or she would need to succeed in that field. Middle College has partnered with other programs such as PluggedinVA, an adult education resource center, CCWA, the Community College Workforce Alliance, and Goodwill Industries. These major tracks are offered: CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), Warehouse Distribution and Logistics, Customer Service, and Construction.

For more information about Reynolds Middle College, contact Mary Jo Washko at 804-523-5345 or 

Middle College remains tuition-free thanks to major gift support from Brookfield Foundation, Capital One, Jackson Foundation, and Virginia Credit Union.