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Juneteenth Closure

TCC will be closed Wednesday, June 19, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

“I owe my success to TCC”

With no background in health care, Navy veteran Oliver Grant turned to Tidewater Community College in hopes of training for a career. “I knew I wanted to go to school in the medical field and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “From everything I heard, TCC was the best.”

After starting classes in October, Grant already has a credential and is preparing to start a job next week at Beach Eye Care. Grant completed the five classes required for Certified Medical Billing & Coding, among the fastest growing professions in health care. In the evening program, now being offered 100% online, students learn diagnostic and procedural coding necessary for insurance form processing.

Grant, 27, paid nothing, as his GI Bill benefits picked up all costs. Many students are also eligible for FastForward grants that provide financial assistance up to 90% of the total cost of training. In addition to health care, FastForward programs include welding, logistics and transportation, IT and cyber security, and skilled and maritime trades.

Grant picked up the billing and coding material easily, he said, thanks to the patience and thoroughness of the instructors.  “Prior to the program I was in the Navy and before that, I drove trucks,” he said. “I had zero experience in this, and all I heard was how difficult billing and coding was.”

Initially he planned to go to school for radiology but was deterred by the two years necessary for an associate degree. Instead, the billing and coding program allowed him to earn his credential in months, and he was able to balance two jobs with classes.

“We started at the very bottom and slowly they taught us,” he said. “Before long, we were coding ourselves.”

Due to COVID-19, classes shifted online in March.

“I had never used Zoom before, but we didn’t skip a beat,” Grant said. “It was a seamless transition to online.”

Grant aced the credentialing exam and credits the instructors for offering detailed review and test preparation. He is also grateful for their help with resume building. In addition to offering interviewing tips, he learned phrases to make his resume stand out. He wrote a thank you note after his initial interview at Beach Eye Care on advice he learned at TCC.

“When I got the job, my employer told me how much he appreciated that,” Grant said.

“Getting a job is a huge relief. I’m excited to start work in a field I went to school for. I owe my success to TCC.”

Interested in one of TCC’s short-term workforce programs? For information, email wfdinfo@tcc.edu or call (757) 822-1234.

Want to FastForward your career? Talk with career coach Alejandra Diaz-Rangel

Alejandra Diaz-Rangel planned to be a Spanish teacher but after attending community college discovered something she enjoyed even more: helping others succeed.

As the FastForward career coach at Tidewater Community College, she’s doing just that.

“My job is to be with you from the moment you show interest until you gain employment or move up in the employment ranks,” she said.

FastForward is a short-term workforce credential program to train Virginians for in-demand jobs in fields that include medical billing and coding, clinical medical assisting, welding and multiple CompTIA certifications. FastForward grants offset tuition costs so eligible students can earn an industry credential at one-third of the cost of tuition.

“It’s affordable and it’s fast,” Diaz-Rangel said. “We’re talking about months not years.”

In some cases, FastForward can be nearly free.

“We’ve had students pay under $100 for an entire course,” she said. “That includes tuition, books, certification exams and study materials. You have to meet certain criteria.”

Diaz-Rangel knows how daunting any application process can be to some prospective students, so she makes it easy. She works one on one with interested students to find the proper fit given their goals and current skill set.  She’ll do this over the phone or in person.

Once a student is in a program, Diaz-Rangel remains in touch. She holds students accountable for attending open houses, orientations and classes.

Diaz-Rangel realized the importance of student support while attending Eastern Shore Community College, where she received her associate in general studies in just one year. Navigating everything from Blackboard to financial aid to a syllabus can be barriers; she makes sure they’re not for TCC students.

“If you have a support system, you can do anything,” she said. “I want to be that support system for someone else.”

Diaz-Rangel worked as a student success assistant at her alma mater before her transfer to Old Dominion University. At ODU she earned her bachelor’s in Spanish education and was hired as interim assistant director for international initiatives. Diaz-Rangel, who also holds a master’s in college counseling from ODU, started at TCC working with a pilot program that offers nutrition assistance to low-income individuals. In March she moved to her current role with FastForward.

Diaz-Rangel works largely with students who are either unemployed or underemployed. Many haven’t had jobs in years; others are seeking a promotion. One of the questions she routinely answers, “If I do this, what are my chances of getting a job?”

“There are plenty of resources out there,” she said. “We will help you with that.” She’s formed a partnership with the Career Services Center on the Virginia Beach Campus to provide job search assistance and soft skills training.

Her own mother has recently started taking classes in the program, which makes FastForward all the more personal to Diaz-Rangel.

“I treat students the way I would like someone to treat my family,” she says. “I understand with everyone I work with that they are people. Everyone is part of someone’s family.”

Interested in applying for a FastForward grant? Email Diaz-Rangel at adiazrangel@tcc.edu or 757-822-1559.

Find out about TCC program that allows youth 16-24 to earn GED, workforce credential

If you didn’t graduate from high school and have yet to earn a GED, Tidewater Community College can help with the transition into college.

The college’s BRIDGE-Plus Program, launched in January of this year, serves those between the ages of 16 and 24 who are considered Out of School Youth in accordance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. High school dropouts, the unemployed, foster children, runaways, homeless children, individuals with disabilities and children of currently incarcerated parents or legal guardians are among those who may meet eligibility requirements.

Two information sessions will be held at TCC’s Portsmouth Campus in Building A. Attend on July 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Room 107 or July 14 from 10-11 a.m. in Room 101.

Participants co-enroll in a GED/Adult Education Program at TCC’s Portsmouth Campus, earning college credit and certifications related to industries, including trucking, certified nurse aide, pharmacy tech, CompTIA A+ certification and medical billing and coding.

The program provides GED prep, a college success skills course, classroom occupational skills training, internships or on-the-job training and a workforce credential to prepare participants for certification and job attainment.

The actual program, with courses and the GED prep, will start around Aug. 1. The program takes about six months to complete.

The inaugural class will graduate on July 26.

For information, contact Shana Owens, program advisor/case manager at ssowns@tcc.edu or 757-822-2205.