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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 or call (757) 822-7207.

TCC biz whiz captures second place in global competition

Tidewater Community College Funeral Services student Jaden Fowlkes took second place in an entrepreneur competition held at the Virginia Beach Campus on Jan. 21.

He was one of six Virginia student entrepreneurs who presented their businesses in a shark-tank style competition for the ultimate prize of up to $50,000.

All six students started a business while in college and competed in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. They pitched ideas to a panel of judges, with ideas ranging technology, board games and real-estate.

Jaden with his parents Jeff and Tonya McDowell.

“The event was amazing, even life-changing,” Jaden said. “It made it easier to see the value of my business and boosted my resolve of helping funeral homes better serve their families with technology.”

Jaden, 19, learned the ropes of the funeral services business as a teenager working for Fitchett-Mann Funeral Services in South Norfolk.

Today, he has his own business, J. Fowlkes Consulting, and provides branding, marketing and access to needed technology for funeral homes.

“I’m working to pull funeral homes into the 21st Century by connecting them with live streaming; cyber security and database management; funeral home administration; and website and social media support,” Jaden said. “I want them to have access to the best technology at a fair price so they can meet the needs of their clients.”

The Grassfield High graduate plans a career in the field and is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Services which he will complete in 2024.

Jaden credits Dean Nancy Prather-Johnson with helping him on his journey and being a mentor and one of his biggest supporters. “She has been a lifesaver and connected me with so many opportunities, including this one!”

Two other TCC students were recognized during the competition including Maria Arely Jimenez who earned 4th place and Lexus Ashley Lee for 6th place.

Winners received certificates, mentorship and investment opportunities. Virginia Commonwealth University student Jack Phillip Oppenheim was the 1st place winner. He will compete in the final competition that will be held in Africa.

For more information about TCC business programs and opportunities, contact Prather-Johnson at

TCC to offer first funeral directing degree in Virginia

Tidewater Community College introduces a new funeral directing degree this fall.

The 61-credit Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Directing prepares students to provide compassionate care for families and individuals after the loss of a loved one. The program also focuses on the business skills necessary to manage the daily operations of a funeral home.

The first and only funeral directing degree to be offered in Virginia, the program was developed by TCC after the General Assembly passed a bill to approve separate licenses for funeral director and embalmer.

“This program creates a path to licensure for people who don’t want to be in the preparation room,” said Frank Walton, TCC’s Funeral Services program head and owner of Walton Funeral Home.

“Students will gain insights into funeral home operations and management while learning to provide care for grieving families,” Walton added.

TCC’s funeral director program will be offered 100% online.

Courses include psychology of death and dying; introduction to business; principles of public speaking; business law; and principles of funeral management.

State licensure requires a 2000-hour externship at a local funeral home, giving students important hands-on training. Students will also prepare to take the state funeral laws exam and state board exam.

Upon graduation, students will be certified crematory operators and ready for work in funeral homes across Virginia.

TCC also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Services for students interested in obtaining licenses for both directing and embalming. The extensive curriculum covers everything from chemistry and restorative art to funeral service law. The program also gives students hands-on training in the embalming lab on the Virginia Beach Campus.

 Fall classes begin Aug. 23.

For more information on TCC’s programs and services, email or call the Virtual Student Support Team at 757-822-1111.

Funeral service grad perseveres to realize her dream at TCC

Patrina Felts wants to help you through the worst day of your life.

Felts will graduate with her Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Service at Tidewater Community College’s December commencement. She began a job this fall at Metropolitan Funeral Service in Norfolk, where she plans to begin her career as a funeral director, the culmination of a dream she’s had for years.

For most of us, death is a topic to avoid. For Felts, it’s a natural part of life. “I was raised knowing that you embrace death, welcome it. That’s why you live the best life while you’re here because dying is the one thing we’re guaranteed to do,” she said. “My mother always told me that you give people their flowers while they’re living.”

Felts funeral serviceThe Jersey City, N.J., native spent the years after high school as a tax advisor and was moved to the company’s headquarters in Virginia Beach. One day someone asked her what she really wanted to do with her life and Felts didn’t have an answer.

“I had spent all my life being useful to other people,” said the mother to four adopted children ages 6 to 17. “Doing taxes was great. I was comfortable. But I realized for me to get to the point where I needed to be I had to get uncomfortable again.”

TCC’s funeral service program, under the direction of Professor Frank Walton, boasts a 95 percent pass rate on the national examination.

TCC allowed her to explore a career in funeral service, a nagging calling in the back of her head since high school. Juggling her daytime tax job with nights driving for Pepsi, she added college classes to the mix. Then she failed an anatomy and physiology test and realized she needed to dedicate herself solely to education.

The decision paid off. Felts conquered anatomy and physiology, though she recalls thinking Professor Kimberly Jones wanted her to fail.

“She was tough as nails and still is,” Felts said. “Now I see what she was doing and is continuing to do. I didn’t understand it at first, but her toughness pulls the best out of us. She makes us think. She wants nothing more than for us to succeed and be great at what we do. They don’t just give you a degree at TCC. She and Professor Walton make sure we earn it.”

Jones admired Felts’ perseverance.

“Patrina sets her aims and goals high and does what is necessary in order to achieve them,” she said. “Patrina has tremendous passion and zeal and will go to great lengths to accomplish what she has decided to do. As a very conscientious student, she challenges herself to participate in activities that will not only advance her as a student, but also as a funeral service professional.”

In addition to classes, Felt immersed herself in Women Inspiring Self Empowerment (W.I.S.E.), a leadership development group sponsored by the Women’s Center. That’s where she met one of her mentors, Keysha Wilson, an African-American funeral director at Hale Funeral Home in Norfolk.  Wilson inspired Felts to apply for a scholarship awarded by the outreach organization 100 Black Women in Funeral Service.

“I would have never dreamed that I would win,” she said.

Sometimes Felts wishes she could go back a few decades and be fresh out of high school so she could directly enter a funeral service education program. But upon reflecting, she’s glad she found TCC at just the right time for her.

“My life experiences between 18 and 35 shaped the student and the person I am today,” she said. “It’s been an awesome experience at TCC. It’s everything I thought it would be.”