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A Top 10 look at a year to remember at TCC

A new president, a professor gone viral and a celebration of generous donors and collaborative partnerships are among a year of highlights for Tidewater Community College in 2019.

Check out our TCC Top 10 list of storylines that made a mark.

10. The college’s Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses celebrated their first-generation students, faculty and administrators in events held in early November. The days were selected to coincide with the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Celebrating first-generation college students.

9. Thanks to a partnership between TCC and Chesapeake Public Schools, 52 high school graduates earned career and technical training credentials during May commencement in areas that range from mechatronics to pharmacy technology to welding.

8. TCC received a fifth federal grant to help train military veterans and their spouses for careers in trucking. The grant, administered by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education, allows veterans to train for in-demand careers at no cost to them.

7. A partnership among TCC, Hampton Roads Transit and Norfolk Now to prepare Hampton Roads residents for careers as bus operators launched in May and graduated its inaugural class in the fall. A second cohort is under way.

The first cohort of HRT graduates

6. Mayor Rick West joined the Nov. 18 celebration for the opening of the new robotics lab on the Chesapeake Campus. The lab contains six state-of-the-art Fuji Automatic Numerical Control robots and training stations.

5. TCC will continue to grow in the next decade thanks to several generous donors. The TCC Perry Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management received a major gift from philanthropist Jim Hixon. A $500,000 grant from TowneBank will also benefit the TCC Perry Center and help expand the Regional Automotive Center. The Hampton Roads Community Foundation gave the TCC Perry Center a $500,000 grant spread over five years. Stanley Black & Decker earned the Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy for its support of the Skilled Trades Academy. Black & Decker donated $275,000 in new industry tools and equipment, the biggest in-kind investment by the company ever in the commonwealth. The SunTrust Foundation’s $75,000 grant will support the Skilled Trades Academy. Builders & Contractors Exchange funded $5,000 in scholarships for the academy. The Don Carey REECH Foundation also gifted TCC’s Women’s Center STEM Promise Program with $2,500.

Jim Hixon provided a generous gift for the TCC Perry Center.

4. It’s never been easier to transfer from TCC to Old Dominion University or Virginia Wesleyan University. The Guaranteed Transfer Partnership Agreement, signed in September, ensures a seamless transfer to ODU for TCC graduates. The Fair Transfer Guarantee Agreement between VWU and TCC allows graduates who earn arts or science associate degrees to enter VWU as juniors.

3. TCC put into action plans to eliminate food insecurity among its students. The college and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore are new partners in a five-year initiative to eliminate the food insecurity that impedes many TCC students from completing their higher education. TowneBank’s $250,000 donation will go toward the food. A Campus-Based Pantry and Food Scholarship Program are in the works and a mobile pantry on the Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses started in the fall. In addition, a partnership between the Virginia Beach Campus and the city’s Department of Human Services gives TCC counselors and advisers a streamlined way to refer Virginia Beach students to the resources they need. Students can receive food, mental health counseling and housing support.

Physics Professor David Wright went viral.

2. Student Erica Church’s tweet on the animated teaching style of Professor David Wright made a big bang. The viral post, viewed by more than 30 million people, created headlines around the world and led to the beloved physics professor granting interviews to Yahoo, the BBC, NPR and Good Morning America. He and students Church and Kierra Brothers will appear on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on Jan. 26.

1. Welcome, President Conston! The college’s sixth permanent president, hired Oct. 15, assumed the role on Jan. 6, 2020.

On the road to success thanks to DriveNow program

Justin Winstead didn’t envision himself a bus operator.

But free training, a good salary and a supportive environment helped the 27-year-old Norfolk resident discover a new career with Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).

The DriveNow program, a partnership among Tidewater Community College, HRT and Norfolk Now, prepares Hampton Roads residents for a career as a bus operator with HRT.

Applications are being accepted until Oct. 18 for the next class.

Eligible participants pay nothing in earning their Commercial Driver’s License, a Virginia Career Readiness Certificate and customer service and workplace skills. The inaugural class of nine recently completed the training, which includes classes held weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

TCC’s Job Skills Training Program conducts the career development sessions that cover life skills, professional appearance enhancement, character education and business communication. Additional occupational training takes place at the downtown Norfolk HRT campus. Altogether, training lasts approximately nine weeks.

“They teach you how to be successful in life,” Winstead. “I loved the program. You learn life skills. We were like one big family learning together. We didn’t let anybody slack off or anything.”

DriveNOW training prepares students to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License learner’s permit and provides a uniform allowance and career readiness. Once hired, participants receive additional on-the-job training to earn a Class B Commercial Driver’s License. After successful completion of the program, participants are offered full-time employment with HRT as a bus operator.

A GED or high school diploma, criminal background check, drug sceening and the ability to meet the required medical criteria are part of the process.

Trainees will be paid $14.55 per hour and after graduation, will receive increases until they reach the top rate which is currently $21.26 per hour (an annual base salary of $43,243).

For information, visit this link.

Need $$$$ for college? Avoid these pitfalls when applying for financial aid

Stressed about paying for college? If you’re planning on college, don’t overlook the important step of applying for financial aid. You might qualify for grants and scholarships – money you don’t have to pay back – work-study jobs – paid part-time work that’s generally on campus – or loans – funds you can repay after graduation.

If you’re attending Tidewater Community College this summer or have plans to be a student in the fall, here are some important tips to remember when applying for financial aid.

  • Yes, you can still apply for financial aid for summer even if you’re already enrolled in a summer class. Jen Perkinson, enrollment team manager at TCC, stresses she has seen students receive aid as late as their final week of classes. Yes, TCC’s priority deadline to file the FAFSA is April 1, but it is not too late. So if you haven’t filled out your FAFSA, what are you waiting for?
  • When you fill out your FAFSA, be sure to send the results to TCC by using the code 003712. The form will list that as being “TCC Norfolk,” but it applies to all of TCC’s campuses.
  • You don’t pay a cent to apply for financial aid or scholarships – FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Complete the form online at or download paper forms there. Do not go to any other URL to fill out the FAFSA.
  • The deadline to apply for TCC scholarships is June 1. For more information, visit
  • If you or your family has filed a tax return in the last two years, the FAFSA has actually gotten easier to complete. Thanks to the IRS data retrieval tool, you can import information directly from the IRS website. This transfers data from a federal income tax return directly to the FAFSA. To see if you are eligible to use this time-saving tool, after you log in to your FAFSA, go to the “Student Financial Information” tab or, if relevant, the “Parent Financial Information” tab and follow the prompts.
  • Want help with your FAFSA? Consult your high school’s ACCESS counselor, who can walk you through the process. If you are not in school, call the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) at 757-683-2312 to make an appointment for free assistance. You can also email the EOC at
  • Be aware that in addition to tuition, financial aid can pay for child care, meal plans and HRT transportation.
  • If you are offered loans, make sure you need them as you will have to pay those back. If you are offered a subsidized loan, interest does not accrue until you graduate.
  • If two weeks have passed and you haven’t heard about your financial aid, reach out to TCC at 757-822-1111. We are always here to help.