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Engineering alums: “What you have here at TCC is valuable”

Five Tidewater Community College alumni told students recently that TCC provides a solid foundation in engineering. But you have to work for it.
TCC engineering alumni
From left, alums Christina Toroc, David Gary,
Jennifer Evans, Rebekah Youngk, Garrett Berger
(moderator and vice president of the TCC Alumni
Association) and Salvija Hofheimer.

The five engineers shared their personal and professional stories on Oct. 24 as part of a career panel titled “Engineering Your Future” at the Advanced Technology Center on the Virginia Beach Campus. It was sponsored by the TCC Alumni.

“What you have here in TCC is valuable, especially for what you pay for it,” said Rebekah Youngk, who graduated from the college in 2010 and currently works as a process control engineer with the U.S. Gypsum Company. “I have so much respect for TCC and the entire engineering department.”

In addition to Youngk, panelists were

  • David Gary, class of 2009, a Navy veteran who works as an electrical engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
  • Salvija Hofheimer, a 2004 graduate and a civil engineer with Virginia Department of Transportation; and
  • Christina Toroc, class of 2009, a nuclear engineer with the Norfolk Naval Shipyard; and
  • Jennifer Evans, a ’99 graduate and civil engineer currently taking a career hiatus.

Youngk went on to earn her bachelor’s degree at Virginia Tech; the others transferred to Old Dominion University for their bachelor’s degrees.

All urged the TCC students to take advantage of small classes that facilitate learning and seek out internship opportunities that can lead to eventual employment. (TCC’s average class size is 19.)

“Network, build relationships and keep them going,” Hofheimer advised. “As you grow, they grow with you. At the end of the day though, your work ethic is what matters the most.”

Hofheimer said many of her colleagues spent their four years at the University of Virginia, but noted, “I have zero student loans and I make the exact same money as they do.”

Toroc said TCC proved to be an ideal launching pad. “When I started at ODU, I felt at the same level and honestly, perhaps a little better prepared than the freshmen and sophomores who started there.”

Afterward, students engaged one-on-one with the engineers, asking about specific careers and advice to advance.

“I enjoyed everything,” said student Liliya Zeigler, studying to be a civil engineer. “I had never talked to existing engineers before.”

Added student Brittany McPherson, “It’s great to see someone in the position you want to be in.”

Gary encouraged the students to challenge themselves academically and have the resolve to work through difficult classes.

“If you’re doing well here, you’ll do well anywhere,” he said.

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