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LaTonya Carraway-Snow: Paying Forward Her G3 Grant with a Life of Service to Others

As a Tidewater Community College student juggling the responsibilities of academics, entrepreneurship, and motherhood, LaTonya Carraway-Snow says it has been immensely challenging for her to make ends meet.

The Hampton Roads resident first enrolled in the culinary arts program at TCC in 2014 but halted her studies to devote herself full-time to her own cleaning company, Crystal Clean, in 2016. After taking a break from school, LaTonya returned to TCC in 2022 to pursue a degree in human services.

Despite the hurdles she faced, including having a felony on her record, LaTonya is determined to graduate and make a positive impact on her community. Receiving the G3 grant for her studies at TCC has made it all possible.

“The incredible support from the G3 grant has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of those I aim to assist through my nonprofit organization, Auntie Advocate,” expressed Carraway-Snow, who founded Auntie Advocate in honor of her nephew Xzavier Hill to provide resources for those affected by gun violence.

G3 at TCC connects students like LaTonya with training and resources to secure jobs in high-demand fields and support their families without the burden of student loan debt. By partnering with our commonwealth, the Virginia Community College System, Virginia businesses, and motivated Virginians, TCC offers options to build a workforce to fill the essential, well-paying jobs of today and tomorrow. TCC offers a variety of programs that “stack” to in-demand degrees and prepare students for high-demand jobs, including professions in public service and safety, cybersecurity, computer science, IT, healthcare, early childhood education, and more. And you don’t need a four-year degree to launch an in-demand career. More than half of these jobs just require an associate degree.

LaTonya is working to obtain her associate in human services and make a lane for Auntie Advocate every place she can, partnering with schools and local businesses to help more families.  She says having the financial support she needed to attend TCC has enabled her to expand her knowledge base as a nonprofit leader and propel her business to the next level.

“The support from TCC and Virginia’s Community Colleges has allowed us to create a positive cycle of help within our community, showing how assistance, when given at the right time, can bring about transformative change for everyone involved,” says LaTonya. “I am deeply thankful for the opportunities and the positive impact that the G3 grant has had on my life and the lives of others.”

If you’re interested in learning more about TCC’s Human Services program, check out how you can get a skill, get a job, and get ahead with no debt through the G3 assistance program.

The Free Market at TCC: A New Chapter in Addressing College Student Food Insecurity

An official launch and ribbon cutting ceremony for The Free Market at Tidewater Community College was held on February 26 to celebrate the collaboration between the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore and TCC, as well as the commitment to eradicating food insecurity among college students.

For more than three years, The Community Feed at MacArthur Mall, a partnership between the Foodbank and TCC, has been a valuable resource for the community, offering nutritious food options and addressing the underlying issues of food insecurity. The grand opening of The Free Market brought together community leaders and representatives from both organizations to commemorate this significant relocation to TCC’s campus and ignite renewed focus on serving Tidewater Community College students, as originally intended.

“Food insecurity has the potential to harm college students’ ability to achieve their educational and professional goals,” says Christopher Tan, president and CEO of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. “This partnership brings together the expertise and resources of the Foodbank with the localized understanding and proximity of the TCC community, creating a more efficient and targeted approach to address the unique challenges of college students struggling with food insecurity.”

The Free Market – located at 300 Granby St., Norfolk, VA 23510 – began welcoming students in early January. The soft launch phase focused on refining its operations, gathering feedback from the student community, and fine-tuning its services to ensure a seamless and impactful experience for students in need.

Mike Paris – Full Circle Community Impact and Inspiration

Before Mike Paris became the bureau manager for the city of Norfolk’s Economic Development Department, he was earning his associate in general studies from Tidewater Community College.

Originally from Massachusetts, Paris was unsure what his future career would entail but was advised the degree would transfer well to any four-year program he pursued in the future.

“TCC turned out to be more than I ever bargained for,” says Paris of his time on campus. “The diverse education experience and lifelong friendships gained on campus were never recreated for me.”

Paris says that being surrounded by the diversity of thought, age, and economic backgrounds he was exposed to during his years at TCC helped him start his career as a young professional with a broader perspective on life than many of his peers.

“The workplace looks a lot like a community college, with different backgrounds and beliefs. TCC simulates the work environment of the real world better,” says Paris.

After graduating from TCC, Paris earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Old Dominion University (2005), followed by a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Regent University and his Economic Development Institute education from the University of Oklahoma.

Nowadays, Paris’ work strategy examines why businesses choose to expand and move to certain states. Access to talent and workforce are at the top of the list. Recognizing TCC’s commitment to building talent early on positioned Paris to prioritize partnerships with the community college and find success in Norfolk’s economic development space many times over, including earning a spot on the list of Inside Business’s Top 40 Under 40 2022.

In 2022, Paris also co-led a partnership in support of both a business expansion and nearby communities with elevated rates of poverty. After leading a traditional economic development expansion project, he ensured that access to the newly created jobs was successfully transferred to nearby communities by helping to create a mobile welding lab and partnership training program, WeldNOW, to close a relevant skills gap in these communities.

WeldNOW works in concert with TCC, which obtained the facility, developed, and leads the training, working in close coordination with Norfolk Works, the workforce arm of Norfolk’s Economic Development Department, to select business sites and perform community outreach and recruitment. This effort was successful in helping residents obtain newly created, family-sustaining positions, earning Paris and his team a Gold Award for Excellence in Economic Development for Talent Development & Retention issued by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Paris also earned the 2023 Workforce Champion Innovation Award from the Hampton Roads Workforce Council for his efforts to bridge economic development with workforce development and for developing community access to employment opportunities generated by new and expanded businesses in collaboration with workforce partners.

Most recently, Paris and his team at the city of Norfolk received an award for Outstanding Achievement through a Collaboration by the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System in December 2023.  The accolade honors the dynamic partnership between TCC’s Workforce Solutions and the Norfolk Economic Development Office.

“TCC continues to serve Norfolk in innovative ways. Community college is a critical piece of our city’s success,” says Paris. “We rely heavily on TCC to be an engine for producing the talent needed to grow our economy.”

Deborah Barnes – Associate of Science, General Studies (Dec. 2023)

Deborah Barnes’ graduation from Tidewater Community College has been 14 years in the making.

Barnes started taking classes at TCC back in 2009 as a single mom of two kids. While Barnes was studying social sciences and general studies, she sought out academic counseling and tutoring help from the Open Door Project, where she met TCC faculty member Kendra Brown. Brown would babysit her kids while Barnes took an exam.

When one of her daughters passed away, Barnes realized she needed time to process and decided to take a break from school.

Ten years later, Deborah and her daughter, Ashley, both came back to campus. This time, both of them were students – and Kendra Brown recognized them instantly.

“I came back to Open Door with open arms,” says Barnes. “Many people drop out of school because they do not have the support to stay in school. Between their jobs, family, and everything else in between, Open Door is the support system to say, ‘You can do this.’”

Although going back to school while working full time has been a lot of work, Barnes says the Open Door Project continues to offer support to her and Ashley, who is studying mortuary science at TCC and has also benefited from Open Door.

Outside the classroom, the mother-daughter duo has also won over the Student Government Association (SGA). Deborah is SGA President, with Ashley serving as Vice President.

“Even when our children are grown, we’re still their parents. I still wanted to set an example. I knew I could influence a lot of students her age, and we could reach a new generation of students as a mother-daughter duo,” says Barnes, who was then able to return the favor to other students without a support system at home. “They were able to reach out to both of us.”

When asked what’s next after graduating with her A.S. in General Studies, Barnes says she’ll still be taking classes at TCC to obtain her A.S. in Social Sciences by May 2024 and then transferring to Morris Brown University to continue her educational journey toward becoming a therapist or counselor.

“After all the things I went through to get here, 14 years later, I’m so proud of myself,” reflects Barnes.

“TCC offers so much to students to become a successful scholar, from the Student Resource Center and the Open Door Project, writing center, math labs, tutoring labs, and more. When life gets hard, you may have to stop temporarily and gather yourself, but you don’t ever have to give up. You can always go back.”

TCC Automotive Program Receives $50,000 Scholarship Donation From The Hall Charitable Foundation

Students, faculty, and instructors at Tidewater Community College’s Regional Automotive Center (RAC) gathered with members of the Kenneth A. & Patricia A. Hall Charitable Foundation to celebrate a life-changing new partnership.

The Hall Foundation established a scholarship for the advancement of students looking to improve skills through continuing education and hands-on training in automotive maintenance at the RAC, awarding $50,000 to the TCC Educational Foundation as an initial contribution in the spring and an additional $50,000 this fall.

The Kenneth A. Hall Automotive Scholarship will award scholarships of up to $2,000 to recipients each year. The scholarship money may be used for tuition, books, fees, tools, and all other needed materials and supplies for a student to be successful. To date, 13 students have received the scholarship from Hall.

“This is another great day for Tidewater Community College. This is a significant opportunity for our automotive program students to benefit by providing much-needed scholarships, and we are so appreciative to the Hall family and the Hall Foundation for their generous support,” said Dr. Marcia Conston, TCC President.

“It goes to benefit the state, the local area, and that’s what we’re all about,” said Ken Hall, Jr. of the Hall Charitable Foundation. “We’re always trying to find programs that support everybody and return something to the community. Not just buildings, but something that enriches the community, state, and local areas.”

“We like to support education, particularly the automotive field, because that’s where the Hall Foundation’s funding came from. More importantly, we know these opportunities can be life-changing for these individuals to be able to have a job that pays well, so they can raise their family and educate their kids,“ said Gray Kiger.

The scholarship is available for students who have demonstrated a strong work ethic, a drive to succeed, and a commitment to education and training. Among this year’s recipients is Evan Healey, who now works at Hall Honda as an Express Technician. He’s especially grateful for the industry connections at TCC that guided him on the fast track to getting his current job.

He says TCC’s program and experienced instructors helped unlock his passion for automotive.

“Mr. Kulp has been in the field for a long time, and been in the teaching world and knows what he’s talking about. He’s like the Yoda of Honda,” said Healey. “This career path is exciting because the more I learn here, the more skills I get to add to my toolbelt. I’m always learning and advancing. Eventually, I want to be a Line Tech at Hall in the main shop and be able to work on bigger projects with the team as my skills advance. Receiving this scholarship feels personal, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue learning in school while working.”

Another recipient, Willie “Tre” Scott, comes from a military family and has lived all over the world. Being raised in Japan, Scott remembers returning to the United States at 13 years old and seeing a Dodge Challenger on the road for the first time. He became fascinated with all modes of transportation and mechanics. After completing his automotive program training, Scott wants to obtain his bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University and become a pilot for the US Air Force. He says the program is excellent preparation for his future.

“These skills are all things I’ll continue to use and be grateful for now and later in life. If people like working on cars, boats, anything with an engine, they should come here for all the opportunities it has to offer,” said Scott, who found out last week he was receiving the Hall Foundation scholarship and is thankful to have most of his studies covered thanks to scholarships and financial aid.

“I’ve been focusing better since I don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket; it’s a big benefit.” For more information about the Regional Automotive Center’s programs, visit our Chesapeake Campus website.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools announces 67 new scholarship recipients in partnership with Sun Tribe and Tidewater Community College

A special scholarship fund created through a solar power partnership is helping area high school students access advanced courses through a dual-enrollment program.

CHARLOTTESVILLE and VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Sept. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Mid-Atlantic clean energy company Sun Tribe and Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) have announced that 67 of the district’s high school students received scholarships for dual-enrollment technical courses at Tidewater Community College (TCC) for the 2023-2024 school year.

VBCPS and Sun Tribe launched the merit- and need-based scholarship program in 2022 as an extension of a partnership that has brought rooftop solar panels to several of the district’s schools. They are proud to report that every student who has applied for assistance thus far has received tuition assistance, including an additional 60 students from the 2022-2023 school year.

Scholarship recipients include juniors and seniors representing all VBCPS high schools. These students take courses at TCC as part of a dual-enrollment program that enables them to access cutting-edge technical training while earning both high school and college credit. This allows high schoolers to explore various career paths and earn valuable industry accreditations or certifications before graduating.

VBCPS supports programs accessible to all students, regardless of financial status. College tuition can be a barrier for families, as high schoolers are not eligible for traditional financial aid. Thanks to this scholarship program, students have tuition-free access to skills-based training and certificate programs.

“When we first teamed up with VBCPS to bring solar power to their schools, we were both set on finding creative new ways to expand the benefits felt by the community. This scholarship program has been an incredibly rewarding way to do that,” said Rich Allevi, Vice President of Development at Sun Tribe. “We are grateful to both the school district and Tidewater Community College for working with us to empower these students and provide a stepping stone toward enriching careers.”

Sun Tribe contributed a grant to fund the VBCPS dual-enrollment scholarship and arranged for a matching contribution from Tidewater Community College. This year’s scholarship students are attending a range of courses for certificate programs in welding, veterinary assisting, and lodging management for a total of 406 tuition-free credit hours.

“Our partnership with Sun Tribe is an integral part of Virginia Beach Schools’ work to build tomorrow’s workforce in our region,” said Sara Lockett, Director of Technical and Career Education at VBCPS. “Sun Tribe is helping to open the door to successful and fulfilling futures in Hampton Roads for our students.”

VBCPS is a leader in its energy management and environmental stewardship approach. Beginning in 2019, the district partnered with Sun Tribe to develop solar at four of its schools.

To learn more about Sun Tribe and its work with K-12 schools, visit https://suntribesolar.com/k-12-schools/.

TCC alum lands top chef spot at local eatery

Heather Tripple is a proud Tidewater Community College alumna. She got her start in the TCC kitchens under the tutelage of Chef Deanna “Dee” Freridge. She is now the head chef at The Stock Pot in Virginia Beach.

Chef Heather Tripple at work in Virginia Beach.
Chef Heather serving up tasty dishes at The Stock Pot.

Heather earned her Culinary Arts degree in 2014. She remembers the long days of school and work that got her where she is now.

“I had a dream of having that degree and holding that diploma in my hands. I’m the first in my family to go to college and that makes my parents proud,” she said.  “Also, I proved to myself that I could do it. Today I’ve found my niche and I’m able to get creative with the food I bring to the table.”

While at TCC, Heather worked full-time and rode the bus from Virginia Beach to the Norfolk Campus. She was inspired to pursue a career in the culinary arts after participating in a cooking competition at Cox High School.

“I grew up cooking alongside my mom and grandmother, who both come from southern backgrounds. They both instilled a passion in me for creating delicious dishes at an early age,” she said.

One of Heather’s favorite things about the Culinary Arts program was the hands-on learning that happened from day one. “TCC prepared me the best way possible. I learned the fundamentals, knife skills and also gained knowledge of foods and cultures.”

Using seasonal ingredients keeps meals fresh for guests.

Heather continued, “Some of the classes provided a firm foundation for my position today including Food Costing and Recipe and Menu Management. I use that knowledge daily as I create seasonal menus for our guests.”

Heather also credits Chef Dee with helping her get started in the field. “I had my degree but lacked experience. Chef connected me with the manager at Mannino’s Italian Bistro and my career began,” she said. “That job pushed me and taught me a whole lot. Today, I’m in a position to do the teaching and I have some new hires from TCC. It’s rewarding to come full circle and now get to pour into employees just getting started.”

Calling all actors

Tidewater Community College Theatre will hold open auditions for the fall production of “Inherit the Wind.” 

When:  Sept. 6 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre, room 4102, on the Chesapeake Campus, 1428 Cedar Road. 

Callbacks: To be determined.

The story: Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote “Inherit the Wind.” This lively courtroom drama dives into the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial. The play is set in the town of Hillsboro and follows the trial of a young teacher, Bertram Cates, who is accused of violating state law by teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in a public school.

Two famous lawyers, Henry Drummond and Matthew Harrison Brady, represent the opposing sides. The trial becomes a clash between science and religion, modernity and tradition, and freedom of thought and dogmatic beliefs. The play explores these themes while also delving into the personal relationships and emotions of the characters involved.

The trial takes unexpected turns, challenging the beliefs of both the characters and the audience. “Inherit the Wind” raises questions about intellectual freedom, the role of religion in society, and the tensions between progress and conservatism.

Prepare:  Please prepare a one-minute monologue or one of the two sides below. All roles are open to all genders and ethnicities.

Rehearsal and show information: Rehearsals are tentatively scheduled for Monday – Thursday from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., starting on Sept. 11 and running through Oct. 18.

The show dates are October 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. and October 22 at 2 p.m. and October 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. In addition, Sept. 11 will be the read from 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. You must be available for all the show dates and rehearsals.

Sides:

Rachel – I remember feeling this way when I was a little girl. I would wake up at night, terrified of the dark. I’d think sometimes that my bed was on the ceiling, and the whole house was upside down; and if I didn’t hang onto the mattress, I might fall outward into the stars.   I wanted to run to my father, and have him tell me I was safe, that everything was all right. But I was always more frightened of him than I was of falling. It’s the same way now.

Hornbeck – Matthew Harrison Brady died of a busted belly. You know what I thought of him, and I know what you thought. Let us leave the lamentations to the illiterate. Why should we weep for him? He cried enough for himself. The national tear-duct from Weeping Water, Nebraska, who flooded the whole nation like a one-man Mississippi. How do you write an obituary for a man who has been dead for thirty years?

If you have any questions, please contact Matthew Gorris at mgorris@tcc.edu.

From TCC to the mission field in Romania

Hannah Căldăraru found her “anywhere” at Tidewater Community College.

She got her start on TCC’s Chesapeake Campus in 2014 and earned a social sciences degree three years later. She also jumped into student life and was part of the Breakaway Bible Club, serving as president for a year.

In that role, she helped lead weekly bible studies and even hosted an event to bring awareness of human trafficking in South Hampton Roads.

Hannah and Tavi Căldăraru.

Fast forward nine years and Hannah is a missionary in Romania. She and her husband, Tavi, serve children and teens in the villages there.

“My three years at TCC were foundational and I grew in my faith through Breakaway. It was also there that I felt called to be a missionary overseas,” she said. “I just wanted to say thank you to TCC for helping open so many doors of opportunity, both educationally and spiritually.”

Tavi and boys from the village.

Hannah went on to earn a bachelor’s in psychology at Regent University in 2019.

“I would encourage students not to count out community college. It creates a great foundation for your higher education and allows you more time to explore interests if you still aren’t sure about your major,” Hannah said.

She continued, “My credits transferred flawlessly to Regent, and I was even awarded some financial help for high grades at TCC. And even though it is a commuter setting at TCC you can truly create a wonderful community if you are intentional about being involved with on-campus activities. I am living proof that from TCC you can go anywhere.”

“I enjoy working on this team, as everyone works together to get the job done.” — Penny Chase

Penny Chase is TCC’s Wage Employee of the Year. As a trade technician on the Virginia Beach Campus, Chase is known for going the extra mile in her position.

“Penny comes in every day and gets in her golf cart and does what is asked of her, plus more,” said Regina Simmons, custodial supervisor at the Virginia Beach Campus. “Penny is always willing and ready to help. I’ve seen her stop and help students who may be lost or have questions. Everyone knows who she is and speaks highly of her.”

Chase, a Virginia Beach resident, has worked at TCC since 2017.

Chase is largely responsible for the exterior appearance of the Virginia Beach Campus grounds. She ensures that all 80 outdoor trash cans are emptied each shift and picks up any debris littering the campus. She handles a myriad of tasks, largely outdoors, during the cold winter months and hot summers.

Chase says curb appeal is important and she wants to do her part to make a good impression when people come to campus.

“I am both honored and humbled by this award because the people I work with put in far more hours and have more responsibility than I do,” she said. “I enjoy working on this team, as everyone works together to get the job done.”

Chase also noted, “The best part is that I’m outside and get to see an air show with the Navy jets flying overhead each day!”

Chase says her children and grandchildren are her favorite accomplishments. She is the mother of a son, Paul Primmer, and a daughter, Philena Brant. She has three grandchildren who she enjoys spending time with.

In her free time, Chase can be found fishing from any nearby shoreline.

“One thing I always try to do is treat people fairly and work hard.” — Tommy Armstrong

Thomas “Tommy” Armstrong was recognized by the college’s Classified Association for his innovative leadership as facilities manager for Trades Services on the Virginia Beach Campus. Armstrong’s department covers the physical maintenance of the campus, which includes 126 acres of land and 13 buildings.

Armstrong and his team oversee the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other system needs of the campus. They also respond to all after-hours emergencies, prepare for storms, and clean up after any weather event.

“Tommy believes in top-of-the-line service and performance. He does not cut corners and is willing to roll up his sleeves as a supervisor to accomplish all that needs to get done,” said Virginia Beach Campus Dean Kia Hardy.

Armstrong, a Currituck, N.C. resident, says he is humbled by this award. “It means a lot. One thing I always try to do is treat people fairly and work hard,” he said. “This award is the best I’ve ever received.”

He continued, “I’m accepting this award on behalf of myself and the staff I lead. They are all remarkable and work hard every day to ensure we have a safe and operational campus.”

Armstrong started at TCC in 1994 and has worked in facilities management on every campus. While working in the Electrical department Armstrong was instrumental in installing the fiber optic cabling, that provides phone and internet services across the college.

He also was involved in the building of the new Portsmouth Campus, as he was the trades manager at that campus between 2009-2013.

 A man of faith, Armstrong prays for the safety of staff each day. He said, “We work on systems that can cause severe harm or even death. Before coming to work I pray that my staff can go home at the end of each day and also for the knowledge, skills and ability to do all that we are asked to do.”

Armstrong was raised on a farm in North Carolina. He earned a degree from Guilford Technical Institute and is certified by the Department of Professional Regulations as a Master Electrician.

Tommy enjoys spending time with his wife of 36 years, Marie Armstrong, who has always supported his work as a maintenance manager. During inclement weather, she would pack his suitcase and food to get him through time spent on campus overseeing snow removal and monitoring conditions.

The couple has a side catering business and are known for their Carolina-style barbeque and their chicken. They also grow vegetables in a year-round garden. The couple have two grown sons and also cared for their niece, Victoria Smith, who had special needs and passed away at age 32 in 2022.

“My mamma always said a good name is better than riches,” Armstrong added. “She always wanted me to get the ‘Good Citizenship’ award, and I never did because I was very mischievous. This award represents that for me. I finally made it!”

“I love showing students that art is all around us.” — Alison Napier

Alison Napier is the recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. She is an art historian recognized for her significant contributions to course development and her focus on student success. 

Her passion for Art History comes from her curious nature and investigative spirit. “Art History is fascinating because you look at history, what’s happening in the world, and the cultural impact and then you are able to see how those factors result in the artwork of the day,” she said. “You really get to play an art detective.”  

Napier saw that Art History had a stigma of being for the elite and was drawn to being a professor in order to help everyone understand the joy of the subject. Throughout her career, Napier has taught at a variety of schools. She spent 20 years teaching at high schools and has worked at both small and large universities.

She enjoys teaching at a community college and working with a diverse student population who are all in different places in their lives. She says, “I love showing them that art is all around us and how it all ties together in the big picture.”

As an accomplished teacher of online courses, Napier was approached by the Distance Learning department and asked to create Open Educational Resource versions of four art courses. She created those course offerings, and now they use free online resources instead of textbooks.

Napier recognizes that oftentimes class resources can provide a financial barrier to students, and she gladly made these contributions to course development. In addition, she applied the same free resources in her own classes to help keep students enrolled and moving forward in their education.

Napier said, “I was honored to receive this award, and it is proof that we are overcoming the stigma around online courses. It is an acknowledgment not only of me, but of all online teachers.”  

Outside of teaching at TCC, Napier is a doctoral candidate writing her dissertation and working a full-time job. She holds two master’s degrees from Old Dominion University – one in humanities and art history and the other in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language. She is at work on her doctorate in American studies and material culture from the College of William and Mary. 

She enjoys free time with her husband and two Labrador retrievers. Napier also enjoys driving her jeep to the beach, swimming and going to art museums to stay current on art exhibits to share with her students.

“It’s wonderful to see students grow in their knowledge of this emerging field.” — Judy Gill

Judy Gill, director of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations and associate professor of mathematics, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for her development of the Drone Pilot Program at TCC.

Gill, who joined the college full-time in 2004 teaches UAS and developmental and college-level math. “I am honored to be recognized by my peers with this award,” she said. “It means a great deal to me.”  

Gill was motivated to start the drone program at the college because she had always been passionate about new technology. She saw UAS or drones growing in popularity and becoming an indispensable tool in many industries. She wanted to find a way to help meet the country’s growing need for drone operators.

Gill began teaching drone classes at TCC during Fall Semester of 2022. The full program will be up and running in 2024.

“TCC’s drone classes provide students with a place to utilize their creativity while gaining knowledge in a subject they are enthusiastic about,” said Gill. “It is wonderful to see students grow in their skills and knowledge of this emerging field.

Gill earned her Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 UAS Pilot License and began training to teach drone operations in 2018. She was one of the first faculty in the Virginia Community College system to participate in the Geospatial Technician Education-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Institute at Virginia Tech. The program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, administered by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. 

During the program, she learned to plan missions, fly drones, collect data, and maintain Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 

Through TCC’s hands-on program, students will learn how to plan missions and fly drones as well as gain the knowledge necessary to obtain their FAA Part 107 UAS pilot license. In addition to the skills necessary for operating drones, Gill finds that her students learn interpersonal communication skills and how to collaborate with a team to accomplish goals.

Gill’s passion for drones extends outside of the classroom. She enjoys attending drone light shows when they come to the Hampton Roads area. These displays feature 200-300 drones flying in formation while displaying colorful lights with accompanying music. She also enjoys flying drones for fun and learning about drones both in a recreational and educational setting.

A Virginia Beach resident, Gill holds a master’s in computational and applied mathematics from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s in mathematics with a concentration in economics from Christopher Newport University. When she is not flying drones, Gill enjoys spending time with her family and pets, going to the beach, and playing pickleball.

“TCC is more than a college. It’s a place that changes lives.” — Heather Boone

Heather Boone is the Professor of the Year, chosen by the Faculty Senate. Professor Boone has taught Graphic Design at the college since 2008 and is being honored for her dedication to student success and engagement.

Boone, a Virginia Beach resident, teaches typography, publication design, interaction design and systems design in online, in-person and hybrid formats.

“TCC is more than a college. It’s a place that changes lives,” Boone said. “Some students have so many obligations with families and full-time jobs and it’s rewarding when they reach their goals, find meaningful work and then reach out to tell you how well they are doing.” 

Her recent accomplishments include preparing for the new Visual Arts + Design Center, which is set to open on the Norfolk Campus in the fall. “It’s great to be in downtown Norfolk with plenty of design businesses and activity,” Boone said. “In addition, the design space is beautiful, and we have a lot of room to spread out.” 

Boone recently reworked the Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design degree with Professor Mary Lee Shumate. The new degree is cohesive and covers all areas of design from visual communication to website design to motion graphics.

“It is so rewarding when you see students realize they love this career. They become excited by every project and want to see the classes just keep going,” she said. “Helping students find their path is the best part of the job.” 

Boone serves as the faculty advisor for the 340 Art and Design annual publication, formerly 340 High Street, and has facilitated ten editions. The most recently printed 23rd edition honors the journey of the Arts Center from Portsmouth to the Norfolk Campus. The 24th edition is currently in production and Boone is scheduled to begin the 25th edition with students in the Fall Semester at the new Arts + Design Center.

When she isn’t teaching, Boone spends free time with her son, William. The pair enjoy swimming, traveling and frequent trips to New York City. William is following in his mom’s footsteps with a passion for art and design. Recently awarded art student of the year in his grade, William is currently designing his own typeface.

Boone holds a Master of Fine Arts in design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. She is also an alum of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton, in the U.K.

TCC celebrates annual award winners

Tidewater Community College recognizes five faculty and staff members from across the college with annual special awards on Aug. 17, 2023.

Selected by their peers, the honorees received their awards at TCC’s 2023 Fall Convocation held at the college’s Chesapeake Campus.

Professor of the Year
Heather Boone – Professor of Graphic Design

Heather Boone is the Professor of the Year, chosen by the Faculty Senate. Professor Boone has taught Graphic Design at the college since 2008 and is being honored for her dedication to student success and engagement.

Boone, a Virginia Beach resident, teaches typography, publication design, interaction design and systems design in online, in-person and hybrid formats.

“TCC is more than a college. It’s a place that changes lives,” Boone said. “Some students have so many obligations with families and full-time jobs and it’s rewarding when they reach their goals, find meaningful work and then reach out to tell you how well they are doing.” 

Her recent accomplishments include preparing for the new Visual Arts + Design Center, which is set to open on the Norfolk Campus in the fall. “It’s great to be in downtown Norfolk with plenty of design businesses and activity,” Boone said. “In addition, the design space is beautiful, and we have a lot of room to spread out.” 

Boone recently reworked the Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design degree with Professor Mary Lee Shumate. The new degree is cohesive and covers all areas of design from visual communication to website design to motion graphics.

“It is so rewarding when you see students realize they love this career. They become excited by every project and want to see the classes just keep going,” she said. “Helping students find their path is the best part of the job.” 

Boone serves as the faculty advisor for the 340 Art and Design annual publication, formerly 340 High Street, and has facilitated ten editions. The most recently printed 23rd edition honors the journey of the Arts Center from Portsmouth to the Norfolk Campus. The 24th edition is currently in production and Boone is scheduled to begin the 25th edition with students in the Fall Semester at the new Arts + Design Center.

When she isn’t teaching, Boone spends free time with her son, William. The pair enjoy swimming, traveling and frequent trips to New York City. William is following in his mom’s footsteps with a passion for art and design. Recently awarded art student of the year in his grade, William is currently designing his own typeface.

Boone holds a Master of Fine Arts in design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. She is also an alum of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton, in the U.K.


Faculty Special Achievement
Judy Gill – Professor of Mathematics

Judy Gill, director of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations and associate professor of mathematics, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for her development of the Drone Pilot Program at TCC.

Gill, who joined the college full-time in 2004 teaches UAS and developmental and college-level math. “I am honored to be recognized by my peers with this award,” she said. “It means a great deal to me.”  

Gill was motivated to start the drone program at the college because she had always been passionate about new technology. She saw UAS or drones growing in popularity and becoming an indispensable tool in many industries. She wanted to find a way to help meet the country’s growing need for drone operators.

Gill began teaching drone classes at TCC during Fall Semester of 2022. The full program will be up and running in 2024.

Gill earned her Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 UAS Pilot License and began training to teach drone operations in 2018. She was one of the first faculty in the Virginia Community College system to participate in the Geospatial Technician Education-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Institute at Virginia Tech. The program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, administered by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. 

During the program, she learned to plan missions, fly drones, collect data, and maintain Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 

Through TCC’s hands-on program, students will learn how to plan missions and fly drones as well as gain the knowledge necessary to obtain their FAA Part 107 UAS pilot license. In addition to the skills necessary for operating drones, Gill finds that her students learn interpersonal communication skills and how to collaborate with a team to accomplish goals.

Gill’s passion for drones extends outside of the classroom. She enjoys attending drone light shows when they come to the Hampton Roads area. These displays feature 200-300 drones flying in formation while displaying colorful lights with accompanying music. She also enjoys flying drones for fun and learning about drones both in a recreational and educational setting.

A Virginia Beach resident, Gill holds a master’s in computational and applied mathematics from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s in mathematics with a concentration in economics from Christopher Newport University. When she is not flying drones, Gill enjoys spending time with her family and pets, going to the beach, and playing pickleball.

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty
Alison Napier –
Assistant Professor of Art History

Alison Napier is the recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. She is an art historian recognized for her significant contributions to course development and her focus on student success. 

Her passion for Art History comes from her curious nature and investigative spirit. “Art History is fascinating because you look at history, what’s happening in the world, and the cultural impact and then you are able to see how those factors result in the artwork of the day,” she said. “You really get to play an art detective.”  

Napier saw that Art History had a stigma of being for the elite and was drawn to being a professor in order to help everyone understand the joy of the subject. Throughout her career, Napier has taught at a variety of schools. She spent 20 years teaching at high schools and has worked at both small and large universities.

She enjoys teaching at a community college and working with a diverse student population who are all in different places in their lives. She says, “I love showing them that art is all around us and how it all ties together in the big picture.”

As an accomplished teacher of online courses, Napier was approached by the Distance Learning department and asked to create Open Educational Resource versions of four art courses. She created those course offerings, and now they use free online resources instead of textbooks.

Napier recognizes that oftentimes class resources can provide a financial barrier to students, and she gladly made these contributions to course development. In addition, she applied the same free resources in her own classes to help keep students enrolled and moving forward in their education.

Napier said, “I was honored to receive this award, and it is proof that we are overcoming the stigma around online courses. It is an acknowledgment not only of me, but of all online teachers.”  

Outside of teaching at TCC, Napier is a doctoral candidate writing her dissertation and working a full-time job. She holds two master’s degrees from Old Dominion University – one in humanities and art history and the other in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language. She is at work on her doctorate in American studies and material culture from the College of William and Mary. 

She enjoys free time with her husband and two Labrador retrievers. Napier also enjoys driving her jeep to the beach, swimming and going to art museums to stay current on art exhibits to share with her students.

Classified Employee of the Year
Tommy Armstrong – Facilities Manager – Trade Services

Tommy Armstrong was recognized by the college’s Classified Association for his innovative leadership as facilities manager for Trades Services on the Virginia Beach Campus. Armstrong’s department covers the physical maintenance of the campus, which includes 126 acres of land and 13 buildings.

Armstrong and his team oversee the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other system needs of the campus. They also respond to all after-hours emergencies, prepare for storms, and clean up after any weather event.

“Tommy believes in top-of-the-line service and performance. He does not cut corners and is willing to roll up his sleeves as a supervisor to accomplish all that needs to get done,” said Virginia Beach Campus Dean Kia Hardy.

Armstrong, a Currituck, N.C. resident, says he is humbled by this award. “It means a lot. One thing I always try to do is treat people fairly and work hard,” he said. “This award is the best I’ve ever received.”

He continued, “I’m accepting this award on behalf of myself and the staff I lead. They are all remarkable and work hard every day to ensure we have a safe and operational campus.”

Armstrong started at TCC in 1994 and has worked in facilities management on every campus. While working in the Electrical department Armstrong was instrumental in installing the fiber optic cabling, that provides phone and internet services across the college.

He also was involved in the building of the new Portsmouth Campus, as he was the trades manager at that campus between 2009-2013.

 A man of faith, Armstrong prays for the safety of staff each day. He said, “We work on systems that can cause severe harm or even death. Before coming to work I pray that my staff can go home at the end of each day and also for the knowledge, skills and ability to do all that we are asked to do.”

Armstrong was raised on a farm in North Carolina. He earned a degree from Guilford Technical Institute and is certified by the Department of Professional Regulations as a Master Electrician.

Tommy enjoys spending time with his wife of 36 years, Marie Armstrong, who has always supported his work as a maintenance manager. During inclement weather, she would pack his suitcase and food to get him through time spent on campus overseeing snow removal and monitoring conditions.

The couple has a side catering business and are known for their Carolina-style barbeque and their chicken. They also grow vegetables in a year-round garden. The couple have two grown sons and also cared for their niece, Victoria Smith, who had special needs and passed away at age 32 in 2022.

“My mamma always said a good name is better than riches,” Armstrong added. “She always wanted me to get the ‘Good Citizenship’ award, and I never did because I was very mischievous. This award represents that for me. I finally made it!”

Wage Employee of the Year
Penny Chase

Penny Chase is TCC’s Wage Employee of the Year. As a trade technician on the Virginia Beach Campus, Chase is known for going the extra mile in her position.

“Penny comes in every day and gets in her golf cart and does what is asked of her, plus more,” said Regina Simmons, custodial supervisor at the Virginia Beach Campus. “Penny is always willing and ready to help. I’ve seen her stop and help students who may be lost or have questions. Everyone knows who she is and speaks highly of her.”

Chase, a Virginia Beach resident, has worked at TCC since 2017.

Chase is largely responsible for the exterior appearance of the Virginia Beach Campus grounds. She ensures that all 80 outdoor trash cans are emptied each shift and picks up any debris littering the campus. She handles a myriad of tasks, largely outdoors, during the cold winter months and hot summers.

Chase says curb appeal is important and she wants to do her part to make a good impression when people come to campus.

“I am both honored and humbled by this award because the people I work with put in far more hours and have more responsibility than I do,” she said. “I enjoy working on this team, as everyone works together to get the job done.”

Chase also noted, “The best part is that I’m outside and get to see an air show with the Navy jets flying overhead each day!”

Chase says her children and grandchildren are her favorite accomplishments. She is the mother of a son, Paul Primmer, and a daughter, Philena Brant. She has three grandchildren who she enjoys spending time with.

In her free time, Chase can be found fishing from any nearby shoreline.

TCC alum lands dream job at NASA

Kyle Epperly is a Tidewater Community College alum twice over. He earned his first associate degree in Automotive Technology in 2006. For the last 12 years, he worked at Hall Automotive as a master technician.

Kyle came to TCC once again looking for a new career. He wanted work that was less physically demanding, more challenging and on the cutting-edge of technology.

He found TCC’s Mechatronics degree online and started a new journey.

While at TCC, Kyle learned about an internship opportunity at NASA Langley. He applied and began working there in January of 2023. He is now an engineering technician apprentice and working on testing structures for spacecraft.

Mechatronics is suited for students like Kyle with a passion for technology who enjoy hands-on work. He said, “The transition from being an automotive technician to working in mechatronics has been easy. I’m still doing what I’ve always loved which is working with my hands and technology.”

Mechatronics students spend about half the time in classroom instruction and the rest in state-of-the-art laboratories. Kyle said, “What I liked most about TCC is that it gave me the skills that I actually use in my job now. Every class was hands-on which really helped me understand the material. You don’t just learn theory but get to see how the systems really work.”

The Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics covers motor controls, hydraulics, computer programming, pneumatics, programmable logic controllers and more. The broad industry allows students to use the degree to specialize in something they love or do something different each day.

Kyle is part of the Materials and Structures Experiment branch where he performs tests to ensure that materials measure up to NASA’s durability expectations.

The mechatronics industry is constantly growing and expanding which provides people the opportunity to continually increase their knowledge in the field. There are plenty of advanced manufacturing firms in Hampton Roads that provide graduates with ample job prospects. According to the Department of Labor Job Outlook, mechatronics technicians earn a median salary of $60,360 per year or about $29 per hour.

Kyle is confident he made the right decision to return to school and pursue this career. He said, “I am grateful that my family was so supportive and pushed me to find the time to pursue this degree while still working a full-time job. It was worth all the hard work.”

For more information regarding Mechatronics at TCC, contact Thomas Stout at tstout@tcc.edu or call TCC’s Virtual Student Support Team at 757-822-1111.

TCC alums pay it forward

Tidewater Community College alum, Tony Lankford, is passionate about giving back to the community that has always supported him. Tony received his Associate of Science in Social Sciences from TCC before following in his family’s footsteps as a third-generation barber. He is hard at work and owns Tony’s Unisex Salon in Norfolk.

Tony credits TCC with playing a large part in his success by introducing him to like-minded and hardworking people. He employs two barbers who are also TCC alumni. They are Kevin Whitlow and Christopher Wood, who earned Human Service degrees from the college.

The barber trio believes it’s their responsibility to help students who are following in their footsteps.

In the spirit of giving back, all three barbers provided free haircuts as part of TCC’s Suit Up program. The program, hosted by the Student Resource and Empowerment Center, is designed to help students prepare to have professional headshots which will assist in their job searches.

Tony says, “It is incredibly special to see TCC students interacting with alumni at the shop and watching them learn to carry themselves with professionalism. It’s very fulfilling to be able to give back to the community this way.”

Throughout his career, Tony has seen the importance of being a role model to the younger generation in the community and showing them that they can achieve anything. He says, “It’s very important to keep the conversations with the youth in the neighborhood full of purpose. They are learning from us, and I want them to see the importance of giving back.”

TCC faculty get an up-close look at offshore wind project

New jobs are on the horizon for offshore wind turbine technicians, welders, electricians and more to support Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) facility, which will include 176 wind turbines.

Tidewater Community College is gearing up to offer additional industry training. With help from the city of Virginia Beach, it’s investing in $300,000 worth of wind turbine equipment.

TCC has also developed a curriculum for Offshore Wind Energy Technicians. The new certificate will launch as the jobs become readily available.

There are currently two wind turbines located 27 miles offshore, with the remaining structures to be constructed up to 50 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

This month, TCC faculty member Steven Capaldo, assistant professor in the Engineering, Maritime and Skilled Trades Pathway, spent the day on the water touring the area and getting an up-close look at the turbines. He traveled on a boat with Dominion Energy representatives and got an insider’s look at what’s to come.

“It was spectacular to see the structures and learn more about this vital program for our region,” Capaldo said.

Since 2010, TCC has offered a Career Studies Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies that prepares students for careers in the manufacturing and installation of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar. However, new classes have been designed with an emphasis on Mechatronics, Electrical Technology and Electronics Technology, which are specifically relevant for technicians for the offshore wind farm.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2022 that the mean average annual wage for wind turbine service technicians is $59,880. Technicians are trained to inspect, diagnose, adjust or repair wind turbines. They will perform maintenance on wind turbine equipment including resolving electrical, mechanical and hydraulic malfunctions.

The CVOW initiative will include the turbines, as well as three offshore substations, undersea cables and new onshore transmission infrastructure to deliver emissions-free wind power to homes and businesses.

TCC’s effort to train the next generation of wind energy technicians is being led by Dean David Ekker in the Engineering, Maritime and Skilled Trades Pathway and faculty members Capaldo and Anthony Jones, who teach the maritime trades.

Take a look at TCC Funeral Service degrees

Tidewater Community College’s Funeral service degrees are not one size fits all.

At TCC, you can train to help families and individuals prepare for their end-of-life needs. The growing funeral services industry is unique in that it requires science, business and social skills. Specialized degrees are available that focus on various aspects of the industry.

TCC gives students the opportunity to use embalming equipment that is common in the industry,

The Science

TCC offers an Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Service degree that trains the student in embalming and restorative arts that includes a study of chemistry, anatomy and physiology, cosmetology and restoration/reconstruction. Students enrolled in this program get hands-on training in a state-of-the-art embalming lab.

All business

For students who have an interest in the business aspects of funeral services, TCC offers an Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Directing. This degree equips students with the skills necessary to run a mortuary including marketing, accounting, advertising, human resources, sales, contracting and legal compliance.

Supporting families

Funeral service providers differ from other professionals in that they provide support to grieving families. Funeral directors engage with the families by listening, advising, assisting and reassuring them throughout their most difficult moments. They work with families to celebrate the life of their loved ones in a way that honors them.

While this career path is not for everyone, it is a much-needed service in our society. It provides a challenging and rewarding career for the right person. As TCC’s program lead for Funeral Services, Frank Walton said, “Working in funeral services has taught me to live each day to the fullest and to cherish the people and things that I love. It has inspired me to do everything I dream of since I don’t know what tomorrow holds.”

For more information about TCC’s Funeral Services programs contact Walton at jwalton@tcc.edu or call (757) 822-7207.

Internship leads to full-time work for TCC student

Ben White began losing his sight when he was 27. He is now totally blind and pursuing an associate degree in Human Services at Tidewater Community College.

He found a passion to serve others with disabilities when he was struggling to find work during the pandemic. “Once I realized that many jobs were not accessible and doors were not opening for me, I took a leap of faith and went back to school,” he said.

Ben began attending workshops through the state and local Offices of Visual Impairment. That’s when he saw others in need and wanted to help. “There were so many people like me, who wanted to be productive, but were unsure about how to make their way in life,” he said.

Ben chose Human Services because it prepares him for a career serving those in need. He is learning basic counseling skills, various functions of crisis intervention, the management principles of human and social service, and developing the skills needed to address the needs of clients.

“I never thought I’d go to college as I was a high school dropout and got my GED,” Ben said. “Training to help the underserved, abused, those dealing with childhood trauma, the visually impaired and so many others, makes me excited to get up and start each day.”

Ben is now in his third semester at TCC and has a 3.5 GPA. He is on the Dean’s List and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year schools.

While at TCC, Ben received support from the college’s Open Door Project which provides support for first-generation college students. “The faculty and staff of Open Door have been so much a part of my success,” he said. “They became my village and made me feel comfortable where I was, motivated me to move forward and picked me up when I’m down.”

Ben also received support from the college’s Office of Educational Accessibility. Because of his visual impairment, he was given extra time on exams and a screen reader for use in class and for assignments.

Part of Ben’s program at TCC included an internship in a local nonprofit. That experience turned into full-time work and now Ben is an independent living coordinator at the Independence Center. “My work helps me bridge the gap and teach people the skills they need to live independently. It is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done,” he said.

Ben remembers growing up in one of the poorest, most violent neighborhoods in New York City. “I was always told that I wasn’t going to make it past age 18. For me to reinvent myself at 49, well that’s a success story and TCC has a lot to do with it.”

The father of two children, Ben, says he is proud to set an example for them. “TCC gave me the foundation and the tools to be where I am today. At first, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Thankfully, my Open Door advisors taught me how to balance everything and kept me going.”

In his free time, Ben likes to cook up a storm. His favorite food is spicy with a Caribbean flair.