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“I like everything at TCC and tell everyone I know to start here.” – David Hopkins, TCC STEM Promise Scholar

Meet David Hopkins, a Tidewater Community College STEM Promise Scholar.

David is following in his dad’s footsteps and preparing for a career in cyber security.

A Suffolk resident, David has adjusted well to college life after years of homeschooling.

“My favorite thing about TCC is the opportunities,” David said. “I especially like working with classmates on projects, going to the campus gym and just hanging out with people after class.”

As a STEM Promise Scholar, David pays no tuition or fees as he earns an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security in two years.

David was invited to participate in Innovate Cyber at Old Dominion University, a program designed to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in the cyber security and information technology fields.

Through the program, he is working on a design project that mirrors work in the real world. “We’re creating a cyber hygiene company that helps organizations assess risks for cyber-attacks,” he said. “It’s been really eye-opening as my career goal is to find a position that combines cyber defense and offense.”

David is completing his first year at TCC and is confident that he made the right choice starting at a community college. “TCC costs less and was a good way to get my feet wet in college. I know better what to expect when I transfer to a university,” he said.

David has three favorite professors so far: Thomas Geary who teaches English and Christopher Boyle and Gary Noah who teach computer science. “I like everything about TCC and tell everyone I know to start here,” he said.

In his free time, David enjoys walking his dog, Presley, going to the gym and playing video games.

David hopes to one day work in cyber security for the FBI or the National Security Agency.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at TCC. My professors have been flexible and available to answer questions,” David said. “And It was definitely easier than I thought to get going on my degree.”

“I had an advantage coming to TCC with a degree, but the classes I took there built skills I didn’t have.” – James Read

Meet James Read.

He came to Tidewater Community College as an adult learner with a computer science degree from James Madison University.

After working as a help desk technician, and also doing residential electrical work and home security installations, he wanted more.

“I came to TCC looking for a career transition into cybersecurity. I see this as a national security issue,” Read said. “With Ransomeware attacks on the rise and shutdowns like the Colonial Pipeline and SolarWinds, it’s easy to see the growing need for trained cyber professionals.”

While at TCC, Read earned a Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security. Thanks to the credits he earned while completing his bachelor’s degree, he is now at work on a master’s in cybersecurity at Old Dominion University.

Read is one of three TCC students to receive the National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service. The scholarship will cover tuition and fees for his master’s degree.

The scholarship includes a generous stipend, book allowance and professional development funds. When he graduates, Read will work in a federal agency doing cyber work for at least three years.

“I definitely had an advantage coming to TCC with a computer science degree, but the classes I took at TCC built skills I didn’t have,” Read said

While at TCC Read was president of the Cybersecurity Club, an organization he also credits for adding to his learning.

“During the pandemic, we went virtual but kept on leaning together. I think being part of the club helped with the transition to online learning,” he added.

“When learning together it’s important to know that you’re not competing with the people around you. You can succeed at your own pace as long as you do the work,” Read said.

Read sends a shoutout to faculty members Joel Kirch and Gregg Tennefoss for the mentoring and hands-on learning they facilitated. He added, “I had so many opportunities at TCC and was pleased with the quality of my cyber education.”

TCC STEM Promise scholar gets the surprise of a lifetime

It was just a month ago when Jaidan Williams welcomed President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden during their stop at Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus.

“I still – even now – can’t put into words what it was like to represent TCC in that way,” she said. “At first I thought I was being asked to introduce TCC’s president. It was a shock to learn I was actually introducing President Biden.”

  • President Joe Biden

A TCC STEM Promise scholar, Williams was selected to introduce the president before he spoke to a group of legislators, as well as faculty and staff.

Williams, 20, says she was honored to be considered for the role. “To do something like this, that no one in my family has ever done, made me so proud,” she said.

Williams graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security in May. As a STEM Promise scholar, she paid nothing for tuition and fees. Williams was also part of a cohort and received specialized advising through the program.

“The STEM Promise program was a great fit for me because of the support I received and the friends I made,” she said. “Our group shared textbooks, helped with homework and got together outside of school.”

Jaidan Williams at Portsmouth Campus.

Williams is continuing her studies at Old Dominion University and is the recipient of another full scholarship. This time she earned the National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service. The scholarship includes a generous stipend, book allowance and professional development funds. When she graduates, Williams will work in a federal agency doing cyber work for up to three years.

A Granby High graduate, Williams got her start at TCC as a dual enrollment student while still in high school.

“TCC has definitely been a good starting point for me. This place has catapulted me in so many different ways,” Williams said.

While at TCC, Williams was president of Phi Theta Kappa on Portsmouth Campus. She was also involved in Women in Cyber Security and a student member of Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

Williams is paying it forward by serving as a student advisor for Future Business Leaders of America at Maury High. She is also gaining leadership skills as an intern with Butterfly Village, a youth development program.

Williams encourages classmates to find out about all that TCC has to offer.

“TCC offers so many resources, but sometimes students don’t know what’s available. I encourage everyone to network, meet with professors and advisors, use the tutoring centers and career services,” she said.

Williams also credits faculty member Joel Kirsch with teaching real-world concepts. “We focused on hot topics like the cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline. It made our class time even richer,” she said.

Williams plans a career in cyber security as an information systems auditor or in the governance, risk and compliance area.

“I got a great education at TCC, and it came with so many opportunities,” she said. “Even during the pandemic, I felt connected to my campus community.”

A proud TCC alumna, Williams is following in her mom’s footsteps by getting her start at TCC.

“My mom – Corrie Brown – earned her general studies degree at TCC and went on to earn a master’s degree,” Williams said. “She now teaches financial literacy at the high school level. I’m really proud to start in the same place that she did.”

President and Dr. Biden watch an HVAC demonstration on Portsmouth Campus.