Skip navigation

“I was a student in the worst of circumstances. But I had people who believed in me.” — Jamie Farris, TCC alum

TCC is proud of all of its alumni. But for Norfolk Campus staff alum Jamie Farris holds a special place in their hearts. 

Jamie had a challenging childhood. He was bounced from school to school throughout his elementary and high school years due to mental health and emotional issues. 

“Growing up, no one thought I could do well in an academic setting. It was something I needed to overcome to get on with my life,” Jamie said. 

As an adult learner, Jamie came to TCC to confront his past and set a new course for his future.  Staffer Mark Flanders saw Jamie’s desire for an education and his potential as a student. Flanders and the campus community rallied around Jamie and helped with his transition to college.

Jamie Farris with his degree and certificate from the City of Virginia Beach.
Jamie Farris is proud of his TCC degree and his certificate for financial literacy from the City of Virginia Beach.

“We worked with Jamie on career readiness skills, time management and encouraged him on the journey,” Flanders says. “Watching him overcome some pretty difficult circumstances was an inspiration to all of us.”

Despite the support while at TCC, the road was still difficult. Jamie experienced homelessness and lived at the Union Mission and later in transitional housing.

“I was a full-time student in the worst of circumstances. I had no car, no money, no home. But I did have a bus pass from TCC and people who believed in me,” Jamie said.

Jamie received support through the college’s Open Door Project (ODP), a Department of Education federal TRIO program. ODP offers free academic, career and cultural counseling to low-income, first-time college students on the Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses.

“Once I opened up about my past, my struggles, I was able to overcome those obstacles with help from Open Door,” Jamie added. “The staff made me feel like I wasn’t alone.” 

Jamie also made friends through ODP, an unexpected benefit. “We took so many educational field trips and really had fun,” he added. 

A turning point for Jamie was during a meeting with Thomas Chatman, currently the Dean of Norfolk Campus. Jamie recalls that he painted a vivid picture of someone graduating in a cap and gown. “He told me that even with my difficulties, I could do it and I finally believed it,” he said. 

Jamie earned an Associate of Science in General Studies in 2019 and his degree was one of the first things he proudly hung on the wall. 

He now enjoys a stable life with his own apartment and a steady job with UPS.

“I tell everyone to not be afraid to open up about your mental health struggles,” Jamie said. “The people at TCC are there to help. This was where I built a new life.”

“I tell everyone looking to go to college to start at TCC” — Juanica Walker

Juanica Walker came to Tidewater Community College to train for a new career. Her goal was to be able to provide a stable life for her special needs son, Gianni.

She found her calling while working as a nurse aide and medical technician in private homes and facilities for the elderly and those with intellectual disabilities.

“As a nurse aide, I always found myself advocating for my patients and making sure they had the services they needed,” she said. “Whether that meant bringing them clothing, or a birthday cake, or connecting them with community resources.”

She added, “When I was considering a career switch, human services just made sense.”

Juanica, 32, was concerned about starting college in her late 20s, especially as a single mom with anxiety and depression. “At first, I thought I can’t do this. Then I realized if I can’t help myself, I’m not going to be able to help anyone else.”

Juanica connected with Human Services Program Lead and Professor Ivory Warren. And with hard work and persistence, she earned an Associate of Applied Science in Human Services in two years.

“Ms. Warren is one of those professors you don’t want to fail around. She makes you strive for success. She’s also a counselor and professor, offering us life advice while we learn in her classes.”

During this time, Juanica also found resources for Gianni, now four years old. With a set schedule and many doctors and therapists, he is thriving with his autism diagnosis. He will start kindergarten in the fall.

“I tell everyone who is looking to go to college to start at TCC. With the resources and helpful staff, you can start small and take steps toward your future.”

While studying at TCC, the college provided Juanica with a free laptop, Wi-Fi, financial assistance for her son’s daycare and meals through The Community Feed at TCC.

She also engaged with the community through the TCC Human Services Club and the Women Overcoming Whatever group.

Juanica is now working full-time for Jewish Family Services as a Guardian Representative. She has 30 clients that she helps connect with resources while taking care of their personal affairs and living situations.

“I recently connected one of my clients with a son that he hadn’t seen in years. It was a truly special moment when they saw each other again,” Juanica said. “Those moments make the stressful days all worth it!”

 Juanica is continuing her studies at Old Dominion where she says she is well prepared. “There are no surprise moments, everything rings a bell because of my start at TCC.”

TCC Career Services staff provide resume help and connections to jobs

So you’ve got that degree or certificate. Now what?

Landing a job in your field may be easier than you think. And TCC has resources to help you.

First things first

The first step is to develop a polished resume and cover letter. TCC’s Career Services office offers appointments and staff are there to help you present your education and experience in the best light.

One-on-one resume writing assistance is available by appointment by calling 757-822-7228. You can also have your resume reviewed by a Career Services staff member by emailing Babi Brock at

Resources for jobs

Next, visit TCC’s College Central Network (CCN). This free, web-based tool is designed to help students and alumni connect with employers looking to fill a wide range of jobs.

All you have to do is register to be a user and then you can browse open positions, upload a resume and create a shareable portfolio to showcase examples of your work to employers. Other resources include the CCN app, access to career advice podcasts, job postings alerts, and upcoming career fairs.

A place to go

TCC’s Career Services Office, located in the Virginia Beach Campus Student Center, Room KS42, has computers and fax machines you can use in your job search. The office also has postings on job opportunities and resource guides.

If you’re still not sure what you want to do, the college has a Career Coach Tool to match your degree or certificate, along with your interests in career fields.

Making important connections

Remember to also talk with your professors as they may have contacts in your fields of study and can often provide you a reference or even leads to open jobs.

More information

For more information about TCC’s Career Services call (757) 822-7228 or email Babi Brock at or Shauna Woods-Springer at

Join TCC for Open House on all campuses and the RAC, Aug. 7

Recent high school grad? Transitioning military? Looking for a promotion? Discover all that community college offers.

Tidewater Community College is opening its doors on all campuses for Open House on Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Prospective students and their families are invited to visit TCC’s campuses in ChesapeakeNorfolkPortsmouth and Virginia Beach and the Regional Automotive Center in Chesapeake.

Advisors will be on hand to help students choose a pathway, apply for admission, get financial aid help and tour the campuses.

Whether you plan to take a full load or just one class, TCC offers a range of options to prepare you for the next step.

Students who are attending college for the first time or recent high school graduates are eligible to receive a free laptop when they enroll and pay for classes.

Tidewater Community College offers 150-plus programs ranging from engineering to the visual and culinary arts, to automotive, as well as cybersecurity and other options in computer science.

TCC is a great option for students looking to transfer to the four-year school of their dreams and want to get those general education requirements out of the way without accruing loads of student debt. Transitioning military and career changers can also learn more about program options.

Open house will be at the following locations:

  • Chesapeake Campus: 1428 Cedar Road
  • Norfolk Campus: 300 Granby St.
  • Portsmouth Campus: 120 Campus Drive
  • Virginia Beach Campus: Advanced Technology Center, 1800 College Crescent
  • Regional Automotive Center, 600 Innovation Drive, Chesapeake

Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also register for the event. For questions, email or call 757-822-1111.

Students looking to train for careers in advanced manufacturing have two new options

Are you looking to train for a mechatronics career in a hurry?

Then consider Tidewater Community College’s new Career Studies Certificate in Mechatronics Trainee. This certificate can be completed in just two semesters and includes the technical and hands-on training necessary for work in advanced manufacturing facilities. The coursework focuses on safe work habits and the basic skills needed for an entry-level skilled worker.

If you want to learn even more, consider the two-semester Career Studies Certificate in Mechatronics Technician. You will learn to perform maintenance on mechanical, electrical and control systems, and also how to troubleshoot machinery.

“We developed this curriculum with our industry advisory committee as a way to train skilled technicians for work as quickly as possible,” said Eric Beaver, Mechatronics department chair. “Once students are on the job, they often get the rest of their studies paid for by their employer. These new certificates are a win-win for everyone.”

Kerry Tebow earned the associate degree and has worked in the industry for a decade.

Both of these Career Studies Certificates stack into the Associate of Applied Science in Mechatronics and are taught by expert instructors with industry experience. With the graying of the advanced manufacturing workforce, skilled technicians are in high demand. 

The associate degree covers motor controls, hydraulics, computer programming, pneumatics, programmable logic controllers and more. It is a one-of-a-kind program in Hampton Roads.

Workers already in the field can train to advance in areas that include new construction, maintenance and assembly lines in major manufacturing plants.

The median pay for a Mechatronics technician with an associate degree is $59,800 according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mechatronics courses are offered days and evenings. Laboratory work is completed in the Precision Machining Lab and the Mechatronics Lab on the Chesapeake Campus.

For more information about the Mechatronics program, email Beaver at

“I knew I had to reinvent myself to make a life for my family.” – Karen Etulle, TCC alumna

Karen Etulle is finally living the American dream.

She came to the United States in 2014 seeking a better life, but the dream was put on hold.

The mother of four faced domestic violence and went into hiding for three years, living in shelters and moving from house to house with friends.

“I had no money, no job and everything was falling apart. I knew I had to reinvent myself to make a life for my family. I found TCC with its nationally recognized cyber curriculum and got to work,” she said.

Karen Etulle on TCC’s Norfolk Campus.

Today, the TCC alumna is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security and one of three TCC students to receive the National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service. The scholarship will cover tuition and fees for her last year at TCC and also pay for her bachelor’s degree.

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

“I’m so grateful for this scholarship and thank God for all of my opportunities,” she said.

Etulle recalls the time when she was living in a shelter and her children were asking for rice and chicken. “I went to Walmart to buy groceries and I didn’t have enough money. The man behind me paid the bill and I was so relieved. Now with everything in me, I want to pay it forward,” she said.

Etulle took some career tests online and enrolled in classes at the Virginia Beach Campus.

“I’ve learned so much. When I started, I didn’t have any money, but I found so many resources that paved the way for my success,” she said.

While at TCC, Etulle works with TCC’s Computers for Student Success and is a member of Women in Cyber Security.

“I have an apartment and my children are flourishing. I’ve found a home with cyber security and I enjoy the work,” she said.

One of her daughters is also a student at TCC. She is earning a degree with LEAP (Learn. Explore. Accelerate. Persevere), a full scholarship for first-time college students that includes a free laptop.

Etulle will complete her TCC degree in 2022 and has already been accepted at Old Dominion University to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Paying it forward is important to Etulle. She’s at work organizing blood drives for American Red Cross, teaching at the Philippine Cultural Center and serving as a youth advisor at her church.

Etulle credits TCC’s faculty with giving her good insights into cyber careers. “All of my faculty come from industry and they share stories and talk passionately about their work. They inspire me every day to work hard so I can be part of that world, too.”

TCC is hiring adjunct faculty

This is an exciting time to be part of the higher education community in Hampton Roads. Tidewater Community College is currently hiring adjunct faculty to help prepare students for the future.

TCC will host adjunct faculty job fairs as follows:

July 13, 2021
Joint-Use Library – Virginia Beach Campus
4:30 – 7:30 p.m.

July 14, 2021
Portsmouth Campus Student Center
4:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Prospective employees will have an opportunity to meet with pathway deans and faculty from all four campuses. Staff from TCC’s Human Resources office will be on hand to provide information about opportunities available at the college.  Adjunct instructor positions are available for face-to-face instruction in the following areas:

Arts and Humanities
Art, Music

Engineering, Science and Math
Chemistry, Engineering, Environmental Science, Geology

Health Professions
Nurse Aide, Nursing (Clinical)

Professional and Public Service

Manufacturing and Transportation
Automotive, Diesel, Machining, Marine, Mechatronics

Maritime and Skilled Trades
AC and Refrigeration, Electrical, Engineering for Natural Science, Maritime, Safety, Trucking, Welding

The Joint Use Library is located at 1700 College Crescent in Virginia Beach. The Portsmouth Campus Student Center is located at 120 Campus Drive Portsmouth. Prospective employees should bring their resumes.

To apply for the positions online visit

Free 3-D ultrasounds offer rewarding experience to students, community

Tidewater Community College’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography (DMS) program is once again offering ultrasounds to expectant mothers and their families. There is no charge for this service.

The program began offering obstetrics scanning to the community almost two decades ago and is back after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and the communities we serve,” said Indu Sharma, director of TCC’s DMS program. “Obstetrics scanning is one of the most difficult exams for our students to learn because of the limited opportunities available at most hospital sites.”

The exams are completed in the Health Professions building on the Virginia Beach Campus. Sonography students work alongside a credentialed sonographer and check fetal anatomy and measurements. The scan is for educational purposes only and is not interpreted by a physician or guaranteed to detect abnormalities. If something of concern is noted, participants will be referred back to their obstetricians.

Interested moms-to-be can schedule a free 3-D/4-D ultrasound appointment by calling 757-822-7257. Three schedules are released through the year, one for the spring, summer, and fall semesters, respectively. Appointments are limited. Donations to the program are appreciated but not required. Moms should bring a CD-R or DVD-R so they can keep their ultrasound images.

Moms have to be between 28-32 weeks along and cannot be high risk or carrying twins.

For more information, contact Sharma at

TCC’s Respiratory Therapy program earns national recognition

Tidewater Community College’s Respiratory Therapy program is a recipient of the 2021 Registered Respiratory Therapy Distinguished Credentialing Success Award.

TCC’s program is one of eight in the nation to receive this distinction from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) for eight consecutive years.

TCC offers one of eight respiratory therapy programs in the state. Five are associate degree and three are bachelor’s degree programs.

TCC Respiratory Therapy graduate Daniel Velazquez.

“The COVID-19 pandemic certainly highlighted the importance of our graduates,” said Denise Bieszczad, program head for respiratory therapy at the college. “We provide critical training for front line health care workers and have continuously had the highest pass rates on national examinations of any school in Virginia, even those programs offering bachelor’s degrees.”

She attributes the program’s success to several factors, including the Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus. The state-of-the-art facility offers a high-fidelity simulation laboratory that allows faculty to provide students with the most authentic educational experience.

Respiratory Therapy lab and simulators on the Virginia Beach Campus.

The college also partners with all major area health care providers to offer clinical rotations for students.

“Because of this exposure, our students get to observe respiratory care practitioners developing health care plans and evaluating therapies using critical thinking,” Bieszczad said. “They see firsthand the real-world benefits of working as a team to solve life-threatening clinical problems every day.”

Program Head Denise Bieszczad arranged to donate TCC ventilators to Sentara hospitals during the height of the pandemic.

Award winners must have three or more years of outcomes data; hold accreditation without a progress report; document registered respiratory therapy credentialing success of 90 percent or above; and meet or exceed established CoARC thresholds for certified respiratory therapist credentialing success, attrition and job placement.

For more information about the college’s Respiratory Therapy program, contact Bieszczad at 757-822-7412 or

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.

TCC alumna earns summer internship at the National Institutes of Health

Tidewater Community College alumna Shannon O’Hara Wiora is getting an insider’s look at working for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As a summer intern, O’Hara was selected for the 2021 Health Disparities in Tribal Communities summer internship program through the NIH branch that deals with neurological disorders and strokes.

“I’ll be learning about the nervous system, neurological processes, neurodegenerative diseases, movement disorders, brain cancer and stroke,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara is most excited about the research opportunities that will focus on computational methods for cell membranes.

“I love science and my TCC degree has definitely prepared me for the work ahead,” she said.

O’Hara has Asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.

Yet she started taking classes at TCC at 16. Today, the 20-year-old is set to graduate in December 2021 with a computer science associate degree to go with a business degree.

O’Hara is engaging and forthcoming about how she learned to overcome both a disability and difficult circumstances that might have defeated others. 

“Autistic people know how to get through challenges more than most people because we face them every day,” she said.

O’Hara’s world opened on the Virginia Beach Campus. The word she uses again and again to describe TCC is “opportunity.”

Accepted into the STEM Promise Scholarship Program in 2018, she was part of a cohort that receives paid tuition and fees for two years while completing a degree in a STEM field.

O’Hara would like to use her computer science background in an innovative way. “You can build your own creation in computer science,” she said. “I’d like to see what I can do to help people like me succeed.”

She recently became a board advisor for the nonprofit Family Voices. That allows her to promote acceptance of young adults and children with disabilities and weigh in on decisions with policymakers. She hopes to enhance acceptance of people with disabilities while encouraging others to succeed and accomplish their goals.    

O’Hara uses words including strong, stubborn and willful when talking about herself. Her TCC experiences allow her to offer one more – “confident.”

TCC alumna turns candle making hobby into a new business

Monica “Mo” Jones never planned on starting a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today she is glad she did as everything is coming up smelling like roses. And a lot of other amazing scents.

Jones, 38, launched Divine Scentervention, a hand-poured candle company online in 2021. This month she also opened a shop and chandlery in Virginia Beach.

To date, Jones has 16 different candle scents and wax melts including Island Getaway, Love Spell and Pink Sugar. The candles come in three sizes and have a bit of mica powder in the wax to give the candles a shimmery effect while burning.

Monica Jones at work.

After losing her job in April 2020, Jones started making candles at home, turning a hobby into her life’ s work.

“With one less income, I needed to cut back on my spending, so I decided to see if I could make candles that would rival those at my favorite chain store,” she said.

After some trial and error, Jones says everything fell into place.

During that time, Jones was also pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Management with a specialization in Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship.

“My classes have been a tremendous help in running my business. Especially the bookkeeping, contract law and financial management courses. That knowledge is keeping me on track with my small operation,” she said.

While at TCC, Jones fell ill with a rare autoimmune disease, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. She lost vision in her left eye, but that didn’t extinguish her desire to turn her newfound vocation into a business.

The mom of three was looking for work that would allow her to manage her children’s schedules and any health complications she might face.

“Every semester at TCC I faced some kind of health challenge, and my teachers were always willing to work with me and keep me going toward my degree,” Jones said.

Her favorite professor is Jim Roberts who taught micro and macroeconomics. She had to repeat the course, and credits Roberts with sticking with her until she passed the class during her final semester.

Jones hopes to expand her business with room sprays and body care products to mirror her favorite store, Bath and Body Works.

“I came to TCC the first time right after high school, but I wasn’t ready then,” Jones said. “Coming back as an adult was seamless and the online courses have fit my life.”

Jones says she now has work she enjoys and it doesn’t feel like a job.

“If you want to start a business, use your resources and find people who can show you the way,” Jones said. “I knew it was going to be a journey, and I’m grateful for the support I received at TCC.”

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.

G3 Scholarships give students an opportunity to get ahead in a career/technical field

On the heels of Governor Northam’s 21-22 budget signing, G3 Scholarships at Tidewater Community College are now open and available to eligible students seeking certifications and degrees that will lead to an in-demand job. G3 Scholarships cover tuition and fees for individuals who qualify for state financial aid, allowing students to gain the skills they need for a good career in their community without worrying about costs.

G3 Scholarships are available for select programs in five of Virginia’s most in-demand industries, including Early Childhood Education, Healthcare, Information Technology, Public Safety and Skilled Trades.

“G3 is a game-changer for our students as it provides scholarships for education and career training for today’s in-demand career fields,” said TCC President Marcia Conston. “If students want to come to TCC to get a certificate or degree that leads to a career, we will help find the money to make it happen.”

Applicants for G3 Scholarships must meet certain financial qualifications. For example, a student’s household income (for a family of four) must be less than $106,000 or a single adult making less than $51,000. Income thresholds vary as the household number increases. Once a student qualifies, G3 Scholarships require a level of academic performance to stay eligible. For full-time students who also receive the maximum Pell Grant, additional scholarship benefits are designed to help offset the cost of living so they can continue to take care of their family while going through a program.

Typically, the cost of attendance for a full-time student taking 30 credits at Tidewater Community College is $5,560 per year. The G3 Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship that, with other financial aid, could bring that cost down to $0.

Students who are interested in learning more about the G3 Scholarship at TCC and what programs of study they can pursue can find more information here.

Students who need help applying to TCC and enrolling in classes can receive support from the college’s Virtual Student Support Team by emailing or calling 757-822-1122.

TCC designated as Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education

Tidewater Community College was named a Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).

The designation was announced in a press release from the agency on May 19, 2021.

The Center of Excellence designation recognizes community colleges and training institutions that prepare students for careers in our nation’s maritime industry. TCC is one of 27 academic institutions in sixteen states and one U.S. territory to receive the designation.

“TCC is committed to continuing the legacy of offering high-quality education and career training for the next generation of maritime professionals,” said TCC President Marcia Conston. “By working together, we’re building a pipeline of skilled technicians for careers at our ports and at sea.”

Maritime worker at a shipyard.

MARAD may now start working with designated institutions to enter into cooperative agreements to help advance recruitment of students and faculty, enhance facilities, award student credit for military service and potentially receive assistance in the form of surplus equipment or temporary use of MARAD vessels. 

“This designation gives us a seal of approval for the work we’re doing in providing quality training for those entering the maritime industry,” added Tamara Williams, TCC’s vice president of Workforce Solutions.

Authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, the Center of Excellence program is designed to assist the maritime industry in gaining and sustaining a well-trained labor force while enhancing diversity and inclusion in the industry. 

“The Center of Excellence designation recognizes the high standard of maritime education and training provided by the designated community and technical colleges and maritime training centers. These institutions play vital roles in our nation’s maritime industry by providing the training and skills students need to begin and advance careers afloat and ashore,” said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley.

TCC is one of two designated centers in Virginia.

For information about TCC’s workforce and educational programs, contact the Virtual Student Support Team at or call 757-822-1111.

Information regarding the Center of Excellence program and the application process was disseminated through Federal Register notices. Successful applicants include accredited community colleges, technical colleges and maritime training centers under State supervision. A searchable, interactive map is available to provide information on each Center of Excellence designee. For additional information, please visit Centers of Excellence on the MARAD website.

Join TCC for Open House on all campuses, May 15

Recent high school grad? Transitioning military? Looking for a promotion? Discover all that community college offers.

Tidewater Community College is opening its doors on all campuses for Open House on May 15 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Prospective students and their families are invited to visit TCC’s campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

Advisors will be on hand to help students choose a pathway, apply for admission, get financial aid help and tour the campuses.

Whether you plan to take a full load or just one class, TCC offers a range of options to prepare you for the next step.

Students who are attending college for the first time or recent high school graduates are eligible to receive a free laptop when they enroll and pay for classes.

Tidewater Community College offers 150-plus programs ranging from engineering to the visual and culinary arts to cybersecurity to a plethora of options in computer science.

TCC is a great option for students looking to transfer to the four-year school of their dreams and want to get those general education requirements out of the way without accruing loads of student debt. Transitioning military and career changers can also learn more about program options.

Open house will be at the following locations:

  • Chesapeake Campus: 1428 Cedar Road
  • Norfolk Campus: 300 Granby St.
  • Portsmouth Campus: 120 Campus Drive
  • Virginia Beach Campus: Advanced Technology Center, 1800 College Crescent

Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also register for the event. For questions, email or call 757-822-1111.

TCC grad has cyber security career within her reach

Dasha Chaney is well on her way to a career in cyber security.

And this May, she is achieving a major milestone by graduating with an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security.

Chaney will be a student speaker during Tidewater Community College’s Virtual Commencement to be held on May 10, celebrating her graduation and the achievement of completing her degree in just one year.

Dasha Chaney at Chesapeake Campus.

“I’ve gone from nothing to something in three semesters,” Chaney said. “I actually have the mindset for college now. I’m ready to push and meet my goals.”

Growing up, Chaney opted for Game Boy Advance instead of Barbie dolls.

“I always liked video games that were hands-on and visual. That’s what attracted me to cyber security. It’s a field that’s always advancing,” Chaney said.

The daughter of a Naval officer, Chaney said her father, Lt. Cmdr. Shelley Pulliam, has been a great influence in her life with everything technical and is an inspiration for her cyber career.

“My parents encouraged TCC early on, but I didn’t listen. I had to find my way back after a time at Old Dominion University (ODU) and a very brief enlistment in the Navy,” Chaney said.

Now Chaney’s career path is gaining clarity. She works as an Information Technology Support Services Specialist at Dollar Tree and hopes to transition to the company’s cyber team once she completes needed certifications that include Network+ and Security+.

Chaney plans to continue her education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree at ODU. Chaney credits TCC campus advisor Kita Graham with helping make the transfer process easy.

An online learner, Chaney sends a shout-out to Joel Kirch, her favorite professor. “The community at TCC is what makes learning possible. All of my professors have been supportive and engaging,” she said.

Chaney is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and holds a 3.9 GPA. She participates in the Virginia Beach Campus Cyber Security Club. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has been meeting virtually for games and competitions. Chaney also volunteers for TCC’s Computers for Student Success, helping to refurbish computers and provide them to students in need.

She encourages students coming after her to “trust in the process and push yourself.”

Chaney added, “Never think you can’t do it, because you always can! And if it doesn’t work out the first time, get back up and try again!”

TCC grad achieves lifetime goal of a college education

Debbi Gilbert always thought about going to college and knew that one day she would. It was just a matter of time.

Gilbert has worked as a bookkeeper for 25 years and she came to Tidewater Community College to prepare for a new career.

This Monday, May 10, Gilbert will graduate from TCC with an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management. Next year she will begin work on a bachelor’s degree in human resources at the State University of New York (SUNY), thanks to a matriculation agreement between TCC and SUNY.

“I always wanted to go to college and get a degree,” Gilbert says, “But I was a B and C student in high school. However, I’ve had straight A’s at TCC—only one B!”

Gilbert credits her son Tyler’s experience at TCC as the push she needed to get started. Tyler completed an associate degree in engineering at TCC in 2016 and then transferred to Virginia Tech, earning a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering in 2019.

Convenient scheduling, easy access to four campuses for classes, and top-flight professors and advisors have made Gilberts’ experience at TCC all she could have hoped for. A personal shout-out from Gilbert goes to Angela Slaughter, professor in the Business, Computer Science and IT Pathway, who put together informal meetings for her students, giving them a forum for ideas and business-related interests.

And Gilbert knows a thing or two about business, with over two decades in the workforce and most recently as an intern in the human resources office of United States Coast Guard Community Services Command.

Besides her studies at TCC, Gilbert is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year schools. She also shares her time with the Community Feed at TCC. To date, she has collected over a thousand pounds of food and a few hundred dollars in donations.

The Gilberts near their home in Norfolk.

As TCC’s commencement ceremony will stream live on YouTube on May 10 at 6 pm, Gilbert and her family will gather to witness her achievement.

President Biden and First Lady visit TCC’s Portsmouth Campus

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus today to talk about the American Family Plan, a proposed initiative to help working families.

The plan would create four additional years of free public education and make preschool free for all 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, the plan would cover at least two years of community college for all students.

“Every child has the capacity to learn,” President Biden said. “We are going to add two years of community college for everyone. For some that will mean earning the credits necessary to transfer to a four-year university. Others will prepare for a career.”

President Biden also talked about increasing Pell grant funding to help break down barriers for students including the cost of transportation and childcare.

President Marcia Conston with TCC Board Chair Cindy Free (left) and Board Vice Chair Lynn Clements. The group welcomed President Biden and Dr. Biden to the college.

TCC President Marcia Conston met with President Biden before he spoke to Virginia legislators, TCC board members and staff.

“This is a great day for TCC,” President Conston said. “I absolutely support this initiative because it’s good for our students and our community. Providing free community college education to everyone is a game-changer and will allow students to prepare for high demand careers without incurring any college debt.” 

TCC student Jaidan Williams introduced the president and thanked him for helping students like her and schools like TCC.

TCC cyber security student Jaidan Williams

“TCC has equipped me to become a well-rounded professional and student,” Williams said. “My time at TCC included volunteer opportunities, internships and professional development.  As a STEM Promise Scholar, I received a full scholarship, completely easing the financial burden of school.”

Williams is graduating this month with an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security. She currently works as a civilian employee for the U.S. Coast Guard but has set her sights on a cyber career.

During their visit to TCC, the Bidens toured a heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) laboratory and watched a demonstration led by HVAC Professor and Program Head Harlan Krepcik.

Three TCC students worked with Krepcik to connect and measure electrical current through a series of parallel circuits.

“We need skilled technicians and the challenge we face is that the public views the trades as a last choice,” Krepcik said. “Many students would do well coming to community college and getting the hands-on training necessary to enter the skilled trades.”

First Lady Jill Biden, a Northern Virginia Community College English faculty member, has been teaching for more than three decades.

Speaking of Virginia’s Community Colleges, the First Lady added, “Our schools accept everyone, and we offer classes that are flexible. We train students for real-world jobs and provide a strong foundation to those who want to transfer to a four-year school.”

The Bidens leaving TCC’s Portsmouth Campus.

“I love working with all of the clients and animals. It really is the best job”

Jane Gray has had plenty of jobs from managing a Wendy’s to working as a dog groomer.

Today, thanks to Tidewater Community College’s Veterinary Technology program, she has a career she enjoys.

“This is where I belong,” said Gray. “I tried a distance learning vet tech program, and it didn’t work for me, but I knew I was drawn to this work.”

TCC’s Vet Tech program launched in 2018 and is the only program of its kind in Hampton Roads.

Gray is in the second cohort, which started in fall of 2019. She will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology this summer.

“One of the best things about the program is that we are all in this together,” said Gray of her classmates. “We are all on a group text and we lean on each other often.”

Gray recently received a scholarship from the Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians. She is the only student in Virginia who earned this award for 2021.

Gray is already at work in the field as a supervised assistant vet tech at a Chesapeake animal hospital.

“The work I do now I can only do because of my degree program,” Gray said.

Gray started as a receptionist and is now in the back using the skills she is learning in school on the job. She does everything from assessing animals to monitoring anesthesia to placing catheters to administering drugs and IV fluids.

An animal enthusiast, Gray found her passion for the field when her own dog got sick. “My dog Socks had heartworms and I almost lost her. A year later she got a serious infection, and it was scary. It was then that I decided I wanted to be there for other families to help educate them on conditions and treatments.”

“Our pets can’t talk, so it’s important that families are fully involved in their care,” Gray added. “I love working with all of the clients and animals. It really is the best job.”

Gray’s journey to an associate degree has been challenging due to a learning disability that affects her reading comprehension. “When we went online because of the pandemic, it was really tough for me,” Gray explained. “But my instructors and classmates rallied around me and were there whenever I had questions. The college also offered some accommodations that were really helpful.”

When Gray is not at school or work, she is still surrounded by animals on her five-acre farm in Chesapeake. She and her two children care for seven horses, a donkey, some chickens, two pot-bellied pigs, a hog and five dogs.

Gray with her horse Tucker at the farm in Chesapeake.

Gray says she learned a lot from her favorite TCC instructor Megan Taliaferro who is the program head, a licensed veterinarian, and an avid horse enthusiast.

“We both love horses and talk about them often. What could be better than that!”