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Management degree from TCC helps Navy vet-turned-artist launch her own business

When Korrine Maher enlisted in the Navy at 25, she envisioned a future as a Navy pilot.

One year into her service, the aviation structural mechanic fell 20 feet while maintaining a helicopter. She blacked out on the asphalt, her head slamming the pavement first, and suffered a traumatic brain injury that derailed her plans of a military future.

Six years later, Maher, 32, landed at Tidewater Community College and will graduate on May 13 with an Associate of Applied Science in Management with a Specialization in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship.

The tools she learned in that program – a mix of accounting, marketing, communications and financial management – all contributed to her launching her own business, Korrine Maher Designs, LLC, which showcases her fine arts background.

Starry trek
Korinne Maher’s “Starry Trek.”

“I always tried to run from the arts, but I realized it was something I was always good at,” said Maher, whose whimsical collection ranges from abstracts to the realistic, including a delightful piece that combines the Star Trek Enterprise with van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

Her long-term goal involves painting the Oceanfront windows with designs of the shopkeeper’s choosing. “I paint the images backward, on the glass, from inside the store,” she said, noting that technique would preserve them from nasty weather and day-to-day grime.

Maher honed artistry by earning an associate in fine arts years ago at a New Jersey community college, but TCC provided the small business tools necessary to translate those tools into a career. The support she found here came at an important time in her life.

She didn’t suffer any bone damage during the accident, but inside, Maher was broken. For the last six years, she navigated doctors’ visits and chronic pain that led to depression and anxiety. She found solace in her four animals: two cats, a soft-wire dachshund and a rescue terrier mix.

Going back to school seemed impossible initially.

“It was a daily struggle,” she said. “I had stuttering and memory issues.”

A rough first semester at TCC prompted her to apply for special accommodations, offered to students with disabilities. Being granted extra time for tests and recording classroom lectures set her up for success. Now the Phi Theta Kappa member is bound for Old Dominion University to work toward her bachelor’s in fine arts.

This semester as a work-study student at the Center for Military and Veterans Education, she also connected with other military-related students returning to school.

“I like working with veterans and working with active duty and their spouses,” she said.

Her plan is to grow the business while attending ODU.

“With the tools TCC has given me in a business degree and all the tools from my past and what I’m going to learn at ODU, I can be more successful in business and hopefully become more well-known in the area. This last semester, everything came together at TCC, and I’m grateful for that.”

Who said logistics can’t be fun?

Pictured, from left: Renee Felts, vice president for institutional advancement and workforce development at PDCCC; Scott Flanders, import redistribution center manager at Ace Hardware and co-founder of Hampton Roads LogistXGames; Lang Williams, CBRE Hampton Roads senior vice president and co-founder of Hampton Roads LogistXGames; LaVerne Ellerbe, director of TCC Educational Foundation.

No skis, no snow, no skateboards, either. But X Games fun came to Suffolk all for the good cause of raising scholarship money for workforce development programs at Tidewater Community College and Paul D. Camp Community College.

At the Hampton Roads LogistXGames, local logistics industry workers went head-to-head in events that included the pallet puzzle sprint, pallet jack relay, pick/pack hurdle and a box put. Translated that means teams of three competed in tasks that ranged from folding, packing and stacking boxes as fast as possible and sprinting to shelves to place items in their proper locations. Relays around obstacles? That was part of the morning, too.

Held in a warehouse at Virginia Regional Commerce Park, the LogistXGames is an unorthodox way to create camaraderie among employees from participating companies Damco, Lineage, Expeditors, The Port of Virginia, Givens Logistics, Keurig Green Mountain, Target, QVC, Tidewater Staffing, CBRE Hampton Roads, Remedy and World Market.

Quanisha Bates, distribution operator at QVC who is pursuing an Associate of Science in Science at TCC.
Quanisha Bates, distribution operator at QVC

“I love the environment and everything that goes on,” said Quanisha Bates, a distribution operator at QVC who is pursuing an Associate of Science in Science at TCC. “We give back while the colleges give back. It is just a great opportunity for everyone.”

On the leaderboard, Givens Logistics from Chesapeake claimed “Gold,” or in this case the Golden Pallet, followed by Keurig Green Mountain and Damco.

“It is definitely a unique event,” said Lang Williams, CBRE Hampton Roads senior vice president and co-founder of the event, now in its fifth year. “Most of the warehouse workforce doesn’t get to go out on sales calls or participate in teambuilding experiences other than in their own facilities. These games give them the chance to show company pride and learn more about other companies in the area.”

The games raked in $33,000 for scholarships. TCC’s portion will be used to support veterans in the college’s Truck Driver Training Program.

Kevin Hughes, Suffolk’s director of economic development, standing next to the "Golden Pallet Award" at the Hampton Roads LogistXGames.
Suffolk Economic Development director Kevin Hughes

“We wanted to keep the fundraiser very centric to logistics,” said Kevin Hughes, Suffolk’s director of economic development. “There is an opportunity to encourage more people to get into it, to be trained and to grow the industry. So, as our workforce partners in the commonwealth and in the region, TCC and Paul D. Camp are a natural fit. Both colleges have logistics programs and want to grow them. They are in the heart of this thing.”

TCC offers an Associate of Applied Science in Management with a Specialization in Maritime Logistics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for skilled logisticians will grow by 26 percent from 2010 to 2020.