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Navy vet trains for solar energy career in just five weeks

Weston Craig found a new career after one phone call to Tidewater Community College.

After being laid off from Norfolk Naval Shipyard two years ago, the married father of two knew he needed to retrain quickly for another opportunity.

“I didn’t have time for a long program,” Craig said. “I called TCC and asked when the next certificate program was starting. It was Solar Ready Vets and literally two days later, I was in the program,” Craig said.

Solar Ready Vets, a U.S. Department of Energy program in partnership with Naval Station Norfolk and TCC, offers transitioning military the chance to train for new careers in the burgeoning solar industry. The entire program can be completed in just five weeks.

The U.S. solar industry now employs more than 174,000 highly-trained professionals nationwide and is poised to hire up to 35,000 additional full time professionals each year.

Students in a renewal energy technologies class work on installing solar arrays in the outdoor laboratory on TCC’s Chesapeake Campus.

Before completing program, Craig accepted an offer to work as a maintenance technician for Strata Solar, an independent contractor for Dominion Energy. For the last two years, he has maintained and troubleshot the industrial arrays in nine areas, including the Oceana Solar Farm in Virginia Beach.

TCC is one of seven community colleges in Virginia providing technical training and know-how for students pursuing work in the emerging solar, wind and geothermal industries. Students enrolled in Solar Ready Vets take classes on the Chesapeake Campus under the direction of Professor Eric Beaver, program head for Mechatronics.

“I definitely would not have gotten the job without the TCC program and my teacher Mr. Beaver. He made the material interesting and is the real reason for my success,” Craig said.

Last month, Craig was promoted to a new position within the company. As a regional manager, he now leads a team of five in maintaining the newly constructed Colonial Trail site in Surry County, the largest solar energy plant on the East Coast.

“I’m grateful for the good, steady work I’ve found in this field. I enjoy having a list of things to fix and going out there to get it done,” he said.

Craig encourages those who enjoy working with their hands with an interest in electrical work to consider renewable energies fields.

“The sky is the limit and now is the time,” Craig said.

The Dominion Foundation began supporting all of TCC’s renewable energies fields with a grant in 2010. The funding enabled the college to build and install the solar technology on top of the George B. Pass Building on the Chesapeake Campus. Previous grants in 2013 and 2016 helped build the curriculum for alternative energy education.

For more information about Solar Ready Vets, email Christopher Blow at The next cohort begins Feb. 10.

Women’s Leadership Breakfast a celebration of 25 years for TCC’s Women’s Center

Tidewater Community College’s 17th annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast marks the 25th year of the college’s Women’s Center. The breakfast will be held on June 26 at 8 a.m., in the Slover Library, 235 East Plume St., in Norfolk.

The event celebrates community leaders, mentors and TCC students dedicated to academic excellence and service.

Corynne Arnett, vice president-customer service for Dominion Energy, will be the keynote speaker. She will encourage future leaders with her personal story.

Arnett joined Dominion Energy in 1997 as a tax professional. She serves on the board of directors and executive committee of the Library of Virginia Foundation, the board of directors of the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg and on the board of trustees for The New Community School. Arnett holds a master’s in taxation from Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor’s in accounting from Virginia Tech.

The Mary Pat Liggio Student Leadership Awards will be presented at the breakfast.

Dominion Energy is the presenting sponsor for the event, which is open to the public. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online.

For more information, call the Women’s Center at 757- 822-7296 or email

Landmark Foundation, Elizabeth River Crossings receive Chancellor’s Awards for Leadership in Philanthropy

Pictured, from left: Carol Curtis, TCC Educational Foundation Board; Marian Anderfuren, vice president for Institutional Advancement; TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani; Carley Dobson, Elizabeth River Crossings; VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois; Tiffany Whitfield, Elizabeth River Crossings; Frank Batten, Landmark Foundation; LaVerne Ellerbe, executive director, TCC Educational Foundation; Christine Damrose-Mahlmann, associate vice president for Student Affairs; Lynn Clements, TCC College Board; and Donna Henderson, TCC Educational Foundation campaign manager

Two Hampton Roads organizations were honored Tuesday for their support of Tidewater Community College students.

The Landmark Foundation and Elizabeth River Crossings, LLC received Chancellor’s Awards for Leadership in Philanthropy during the 13th annual awards ceremony in Richmond. In attendance were Frank Batten, president and director of the Landmark Foundation, and Tiffany Whitfield and Carley Dobson, representing Elizabeth River Crossings.

More than two dozen individuals, families, businesses and foundations from around Virginia have been honored with the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy.

Hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), the annual event recognizes leading philanthropists from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges as well as the statewide foundation. This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of $6 million to Virginia’s Community Colleges.

“In 2017, the TCC Educational Foundation launched its innovative TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Program, and we are pleased to honor two early investors, Elizabeth River Crossings, LLC, and the Landmark Foundation,” said President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani.

“The goal of the program is to increase the number of women and minority students receiving STEM degrees at TCC. Both ERC and the Landmark Foundation saw the future value of a more diverse technology workforce – ERC in the area of engineering and construction and Landmark in meeting the IT needs of Dominion Enterprises, a Norfolk-based multifaceted media company.”

President Kolovani noted that the Landmark Foundation also supports dual enrollment scholarships for high school students in foster care who are earning college credits at TCC.

“I am grateful for the support of both of these organizations,” she said. “They truly put the ‘community’ in ‘community college.’”

Keynote speaker Paul Koonce, executive vice president and president and chief executive officer of the Power Generation Group, Dominion Energy, called the community college system “one of Virginia’s greatest inventions.”

He borrowed a passage from a 1903 Teddy Roosevelt speech to underscore the invaluable connection between higher education and opportunity: “Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

The purpose of supporting community colleges, he said. “is to make sure that prize – meaningful work – the best prize that life offers, remains within reach of every Virginian.”

The TCC Educational Foundation works to lower financial barriers for students seeking college educations. For information on supporting TCC scholars, contact or 757-822-1080.