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NEWS BRIEF

Chesapeake students share their stories with
delegates and senators in Richmond

Feb. 12, 2014 — Thirteen students clambered aboard a bus before 6 a.m. on a chilly February morning for a trip to the Capitol in Richmond. Despite the freezing temperatures, students were all smiles – excited to visit the General Assembly and share their community college stories.

The Virginia Community College’s “Legislative Days” event offers students the opportunity to talk with delegates and senators in Richmond and explain how community college has shaped their dreams.

The day began with a welcome from VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois in the Patrick Henry Building. A community college graduate, DuBois encouraged students to engage with their politicians. “These representatives really do want to hear from students,” he said. “When they ask you about your teachers, your classes – tell them your experiences.” 

Students Katie Lange, Raven Brinkley, Joshua McCarter, Hezroy Hammil, Claire Hays, Raenell King, Mark Maddison, DK Walton, Percy Dean, Ashley Louis, Lutesia Dorman, Siobhan McFarlane, Alexys Dawson pose on the steps of the Capitol with the chaperones.
Students Katie Lange, Raven Brinkley, Joshua McCarter, Hezroy Hammil, Claire Hays, Raenell King, Mark Maddison, DK Walton, Percy Dean, Ashley Louis, Lutesia Dorman, Siobhan McFarlane, Alexys Dawson pose on the steps of the Capitol with the chaperones.

From there, students made their way to the General Assembly Building for appointments with Del. S. Chris Jones (R-Chesapeake), Del. James Leftwich Jr. (R-Chesapeake), Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) and Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake).

Del. James Leftwich with TCC students.
Del. James Leftwich with TCC students.

“If you had told me I would be attending college in my 50s, I would have told you that you were crazy!” Claire Hays told Leftwich. “But the financial aid and support at Tidewater Community College gave me the ability – and now I’m here.”

Leftwich asked how the students were enjoying the “beautiful spaces” in their new Chesapeake Academic Building and offered a brief lesson on the complex behind-the-scenes workings of the General Assembly. “In class you learn that a bill becomes a law in a few simple steps,” he said. “But what they often gloss over is the complex path a bill has to take through committees and readings.”  


“Delegate Leftwich really explained the workings of government, which were way more complex than we learn in the classroom,” said Ashley Louis. On Leftwich’s candor, “I was impressed by his honesty and openness.”

Cosgrove, a TCC alum, entertained students with his story. “I went to the Virginia Beach campus and got an amazing education,” he said. “When I transferred to ODU and talked to students there about calculus, they told me their calculus course had 200 people in it. At TCC, my calculus class had 20 students. Not only do you get a great bang for the buck – you get a much better class size.”

Student Hezroy Hammil, a computer science major, extended his gratitude to Cosgrove for his continued support of community colleges and asked him for future support of a STEM building on Chesapeake’s campus. As the only engineer in the Senate, Cosgrove was eager to voice his enthusiasm, which Hammil appreciated. “Without you and the work you do here, higher ed would not have been accessible to me,” he said.

Sen. John Cosgrove poses with students in his office.
Sen. John Cosgrove poses with students in his office.

Veteran and student Mark Maddison expressed his concern about vet benefits to Cosgrove. “I know a bill is coming up soon to extend veteran education benefits,” he said. “Those benefits made it possible for me to come back to school. Next time that bill comes up for approval, please think of students like me and vote for it.”

Jim Hines gives the students a tour of the old Virginia Senate room.
Jim Hines gives the students a tour of the old Virginia Senate room.

The final activity of the day was a Capitol tour led by Jim Hines, a TCC staff member and history buff. Hines led students through the building – touring the gallery outside the governor’s office, pointing out historically significant sculptures and walking through the old Virginia House of Delegates and Senate rooms.     

“What caught me off guard was that Senator Cosgrove was a TCC alumnus,” Hammil said as the bus loaded up to head back to Chesapeake. “If he can come from the same place, I came from? Anything for me right now is a possibility.”

 


Virginia Beach students share their stories with
General Assembly senators, delegates

Feb. 5, 2014 — Hospitality management major Tawanda Cofield envisions being a CEO and nursing major Michelle Hedger plans to work in a hospice. Brittany Mosteller aspires to be a teacher, Frank Dixon, an aerospace engineer, and Christopher Washington, an oncologist.


All of these students from TCC’s Virginia Beach Campus shared their stories – and how their dreams would not be possible without community college – to delegates and senators at the General Assembly on Feb. 4. The morning visit to Richmond was part of the Virginia Community College System’s Legislative Days.

After a briefing from VCCS Chancellor Glenn Dubois, students broke into groups and headed for scheduled sit-down meetings with Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-Virginia Beach), Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) and Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach).

Virginia Beach students pose in front of Richmond’s Civil Rights monument.

Virginia Beach students pose in front of Richmond’s Civil Rights monument.


“I never thought I’d be going to college,” Cofield told McWaters. “TCC has given me a chance to do something with my life other than have a 9 to 5 job.”

Sen. Jeff McWaters with students Becky Davis, Michelle Hedger, Frank Dixon, Tawanda Cofield and Brittany Mosteller.

Sen. Jeff McWaters with students Becky Davis, Michelle Hedger, Frank Dixon, Tawanda Cofield and Brittany Mosteller.

McWaters offered his own story, which included getting his start at Paducah Community College before transferring to the University of Kentucky.

“Like many of you, I saw it as the best affordable option,” he said.

He quizzed the students for their thoughts on the DREAM Act, which would give undocumented immigrants a pathway to higher education, and launched into a meaty discussion on healthcare.

While the students thanked the lawmakers for their efforts toward funding community colleges, they didn’t shy away from pointed questions.


“I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to pay the extra expenses when I transfer to Old Dominion. What can you do to help?” Hedger asked Taylor.


TCC students have a sit-down with Del. Glenn Davis.

TCC students have a sit-down with Del. Glenn Davis.

TCC’s own Jim Hines gives a lesson on the state seal.

TCC’s own Jim Hines gives a lesson on the state seal.


The day culminated with Davis recognizing the TCC students in the Capitol at noon, noting the college was the second largest provider of undergraduate education in the Commonwealth.

TCC’s own Jim Hines also shared his historical knowledge of Richmond, pointing out the stories behind the statues on the Capitol grounds and noting that Thomas Jefferson’s intent in designing the building was for it to resemble a Roman temple.


“This was so exciting,” Hedger said. “I could do this all day.”

“I loved how open and willing the representatives were in talking with us,” said Justin Robinson, who plans to earn his associate in general studies at TCC before transferring to Old Dominion for civil engineering.

“I’ve seen this stuff on CSPAN,” Cofield said. “I would have never thought in a million years I’d be able to come up here and experience it. TCC has really opened a lot of doors for me.”

On the Capitol steps.

On the Capitol steps.

 


Portsmouth students see politics behind the scenes in Richmond

Jan. 21, 2014 — TCC students from the Portsmouth Campus glimpsed politics up close on a snowy morning in Richmond.


The Jan. 15 trip was part of the Virginia Community College System’s “Every Day is Community College Day,” and started with an orientation from Jennifer Gentry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement at the VCCS.

Gentry urged the students to “tell the community college story” to their respective General Assembly delegates, noting the state’s community colleges are vying for their part of a $96 billion budget.

“This is where laws are made; this is where rules are made; this is where government happens,” she said. “This is a time to tell your legislators that you value what they’re doing to lobby for community colleges.”

Tiana Porter, Janae Thompson and Ta'Nya Snead on the Capitol balcony.
Tiana Porter, Janae Thompson and Ta'Nya Snead on the Capitol balcony.

Students from TCC’s Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach campuses have tours planned for later in this General Assembly session.

The Portsmouth students talked with Del. Matthew James (D- Portsmouth, Suffolk) and Johnny Joannou (D-Portsmouth). James was good-natured about sharing his salary for the 120 days the General Assembly is in session.

“That would be $17,000,” he told the surprised students, as many predicted six figures.


The student trip included a walk around the Capitol grounds.

The student trip included a walk around the Capitol grounds.


James explained the voting system in the General Assembly – “Whereas Congress can vote by proxy, we have to sit in our seats to vote,” and he reflected on the mass amount of bills passed in the short span.

“Community college is dear to my heart,” he ensured. “Community college is the engine of economic development.”


Del. Johnny Joannou

Del. Johnny Joannou

Joannou sympathized with the pending tunnel tolls that will start on Feb. 1 in Hampton Roads, noting that he advocated to no avail for students to receive a discount card.

“I know this will be tough for all of you,” he said, adding that he’d be happy to listen to recommendations any time. “If you’ve got a problem, give me a buzz,” he said.

The students also visited the Capitol balcony, where they were recognized by Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth). After lunch, a brief tour of the historic building followed.

“It’s good to see so many of them giving back,” student Kerry Johnson said. “We see these people on the news; it’s good to seem them up close at work.”