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TCC named one of Newsweek’s “America’s Top Online Colleges”

Tidewater Community College was named one of “America’s Top Online Colleges” by Newsweek and Statista. This is the second year the college was recognized for its online degrees and certificates.

TCC is the only community college in Virginia recognized and one of 200 colleges and universities named nationwide.

With the increase in online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the second time Newsweek and Statista have recognized colleges and universities providing online learning for adult learners.

Ranking for “America’s Top Online Colleges” was based on an online survey among U.S. residents who have used online learning services to obtain an academic degree or acquire knowledge and skills for their job or personal development.

Between June 20 and August 29, 2022, Statista surveyed about 9,000 individuals in the United States. Survey respondents indicated which institutions they used to obtain an online degree or where they attended an online course. In the next step, respondents shared their experiences by rating the institutions regarding several criteria.

Learn more about TCC’s online programs. To get started at TCC, contact the Virtual Student Support Team by emailing or calling 757-822-1111.

TCC named to Newsweek’s “America’s Top Online Colleges” listing

Tidewater Community College was named one of “America’s Top Online Colleges” by Newsweek and Statista.

TCC is the only community college in Virginia recognized and one of 150 colleges and universities named nationwide.

With the increase in online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time Newsweek and Statista have recognized colleges and universities providing online learning for adult learners.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, as of 2019, the latest year for which figures are available, 79 percent of U.S. colleges offered either standalone courses or entire degree programs online. That figure included about 96 percent of all public two and four-year colleges. By one recent estimate, the number of students enrolled exclusively in online programs had jumped 93 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Ranking for “America’s Top Online Colleges” was based on an online survey among U.S. residents who have used online learning services to obtain an academic degree or acquire knowledge and skills for their job (professional development) or hobbies (personal development).

Between July 26 and September 13, 2021, Statista surveyed more than 9,000 individuals in the United States. Survey respondents indicated which institutions they used to obtain an online degree or where they attended an online course. In the next step, respondents shared their experiences by rating the institutions through specific criteria. Finally, respondents could indicate how satisfied they were with the organization and to what extent they would recommend it to others.

To learn more about TCC’s online programs, visit here. To get started at TCC, contact the Virtual Student Support Team by emailing or calling 757-822-1111.

TCC is here to help you connect from home

Fall Semester is quickly approaching and Tidewater Community College has resources to help students be successful when learning online.

The college is offering everything from free hotspots to reduced rates on internet service to free wi-fi in select locations in parking lots on campus. Free computers and laptops are also available.

Here’s what you need to know.

Mobile hotspots for learning
The college has hotspot devices available for students. These devices cast a wireless signal for other devices to connect to so you can use your computer or tablet for online classes and coursework. Students can request a hotspot device by using this form.

Cox Cable discounts for students
Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the college is able to offset the cost of internet service for students who qualify. TCC is working with Cox Cable to offer discounted internet service for students. To request service use this link.

Wi-Fi available on campus
If you are equipped with a Wi-Fi enabled portable device, you may access TCC’s network in the following campus locations. Spaces are marked “TCC Student Wi-Fi Parking.” Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Chesapeake Campus: Parking lot next to the Pass Building. You may park in handicapped spaces. Of the four campuses, this area has the strongest external Wi-Fi signal.
  • Norfolk Campus: On Granby Street in front of the Walker Building and on College Place across from the Green District Administration Building. Note that these are metered spaces with the first hour free.
  • Portsmouth Campus: On Freedom Avenue alongside the B Building
  • Virginia Beach Campus: Driveway in front of the Regional Health Professions Center. You may park in the handicapped spaces.

Need a laptop or computer?
Is this your first time in college? If so, you may be eligible to receive a free laptop by enrolling in fall classes at TCC. For details visit here. For more information, email or call 757-822-1111.

Also, remember that TCC’s Computer Club makes PCs available through its Computers for Student Success program. Visit here for more information and details on how to apply.

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 welcomes more students back to its campuses this summer

Tidewater Community College will scale up face-to-face instruction and staff availability on all campuses with the start of Summer Session in May.

A total of 25% of courses will be offered with in-person instruction in compliance with state and federal health guidelines. Priority is being given to programs that require hands-on instruction including the health professions, skilled trades, chemistry, automotive and music.

“We’re confident that the protocols we’ve put into place to protect students from COVID-19 are working,” said Michelle Woodhouse, interim vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer. “We’re moving forward now to bring more students back to campus.”

Summer Session begins May 24 and concludes August 9. Students can choose how to continue their learning with online, hybrid and face-to-face classes available.

“In keeping with our Campus Reopening Plan approved by the State Council for Higher Education, class sizes will not be full capacity and we will continue using technology to keep all students learning,” Woodhouse added.

Face-to-face instruction will comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for physical distancing, hygiene and safety.  Face coverings are required in all classrooms and common areas. Enhanced protocols are in place for cleaning and sanitizing all buildings and facilities. 

All courses will be active in CANVAS, and instruction and support for successful online learning will be provided. On campus and virtual resources will continue to be available. Libraries and selected computer labs will also be open for students enrolled in summer classes. Students will be able to continue accessing Wi-Fi in designated parking spaces on all campuses. 

TCC will provide regular updates that include any modifications necessary related to guidance received from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, the CDC and the Virginia Health Department. 

Students with questions can find support by emailing

Eight things to know about TCC’s Fire Science program

  1. The program can be completed 100% online.
  2. Every professor is either an active or senior retired fire officer, including program head Rick Dienst, a deputy fire chief in the Air Force for 22 years. He is in his 18th year at TCC. Other faculty are TCC alumnus, Ed Elliott, former fire lieutenant for the City of Chesapeake; and Travis Halstead, a retired training officer for the Virginia Beach Fire Department.
  3. TCC’s articulation agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale allows students who graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Technology to transfer into SIU’s Fire Service Management bachelor’s program.
  4. Your experience could jumpstart your associate degree. Current firefighters and former military can receive academic credit, which shortens your time to a degree. Fire academy graduates generally receive eight credits. Licensed emergency medical technicians can also receive credit for their prior education.
  5. Students can take classes year-round in fire science. In addition to the typical 16-week semester, students can take classes in the 12-week session or eight-week session and during the summer.
  6. If you’re already a firefighter, TCC’s fire science program can help you earn a promotion. In some jurisdictions, completing TCC’s Career Studies Certificate in Fire Science Supervision makes you eligible for a promotion. Many who work as firefighters are eligible for tuition reimbursements from their employer.
  7. Former military members are ideal for the demands of this profession. “They’ve got the discipline for this,” Dienst said. Three-quarters of the students in the program are former military, many of whom use their GI Bill benefits for tuition.
  8. TCC is one of two fire science programs in the state. Thomas Nelson Community College offers the other.

Need one more good reason to consider TCC’s fire science program. “I don’t know too many firefighters who don’t like their job,” Dienst said. “At the end of the day, you feel like you accomplished something.”

For information on the program, reach out to Dienst at or at 757-822-7209.

TCC to hold mini-mester session after Thanksgiving

Tidewater Community College will hold a mini-mester session or a “miniature semester” that will allow students to earn college credits at an accelerated pace between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The mini-mester session is from Nov. 30 – Dec. 18.

During that time, the college will offer three-week three-credit courses exclusively online in a variety of subjects, including art, communications, economics, English, history, math, political science and psychology.

Each course will use low- to no-cost digital resources, so no pricey textbooks are needed.

The mini-mester session is designed for:

  • Four-year college students that attend another college or university in Virginia. Visiting students can complete one or more of the classes at TCC in just three weeks and transfer it back to their school. (To determine eligibility for financial aid, students should contact their school’s financial aid office.)
  • High School students can get ahead by earning college credits that can transfer to most Virginia colleges and universities.
  • Current TCC students can keep moving forward with this accelerated session.

Available classes include:

  • ART 101 History & Appreciation of Art I
  • CST 110 Introduction to Communication
  • ECO 201 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • ENG 111 College Composition I
  • HIS 111 History of World Civilization I
  • HIS 112 History of World Civilization II
  • HIS 121 United States History II
  • MTH 154 Quantitative Reasoning
  • MTH 155 Statistical Reasoning
  • PLS 211 U.S Government I

To search for mini-mester session classes, visit here. Be sure to select mini-session. Add the course name in the subject section and the course number in the catalog section.

For more information and help with enrollment, email or call 757-822-1111.

TCC military-related students to receive housing stipend while learning online

COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives.

But thanks to a new law, the pandemic doesn’t have to derail the educational plans of TCC’s military-related students.

A new law, S. 3503, gives the Veterans Administration temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted and allows for continued payment of benefits, even if the program has changed from resident training to online training.

Since the start of the pandemic, TCC transitioned to remote learning for most students and will continue in that format at least through Spring Semester 2021.

 “We’re honored to serve our military students and their families and know that having this financial resource guaranteed will certainly help many of our students on their academic journeys,” said Veronica Cianetti, Director, Military and Veterans Services at TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE).

Traditionally, the housing stipend is only given to students who attend classes on campus. But with most colleges transitioning to remote learning due to COVID-19, the new law extends protection for veteran students studying online.

The protection will continue until at least December 2021.

To learn more about TCC’s services for military-related students, visit here.

For more information about using your GI Bill benefits, call the CMVE at 757-822-7645 or 855-399-7480 (toll-free if outside the U.S.).

Back to school with College Anywhere VA

Don’t put your future on hold.

Pursue a meaningful career or be transfer-ready for the four-year school of your choice. It’s now even easier to get started with a new tool from Virginia’s Community Colleges, Tidewater Community College is one of 23 community colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

College Anywhere VA is an online portal enabling Virginians to find online courses that best meet their needs. In addition to connecting students with high-quality and affordable remote-learning courses, the site connects current and prospective students with advisors, known as College Navigators, who streamline the application and course enrollment process.

Summer classes start May 18 and fall semester begins Aug. 24.

“Our students, especially our high school seniors, have lost so many experiences over the last couple months — no proms, no yearbook exchange, no graduation ceremonies. We owe it to them to provide them with the virtual door to their next educational step,” said Glenn Dubois, VCCS chancellor.

College Anywhere VA provides a transparent view into the 10,000+ online courses offered through Virginia’s community colleges. Depending on student goals, these courses could:

  • count toward an associate degree or certificate program;
  • count toward a degree or certificate program at another institution; or
  • include valuable workforce training programs that prepare students for career credentials.

Virginia’s Community Colleges, including TCC, have guaranteed transfer agreements with dozens of private and public institutions across the commonwealth. Tuition and fees are roughly one-third of the comparable costs at four-year universities.

Student chefs cooking up success at home

Tidewater Community College’s student chefs are cooking in their own kitchens to make the grade.

TCC staffers bought and packed the ingredients students would need to continue their studies at home. The next day, students picked up their supplies in a “drive-by” format while practicing social distancing and staying outside of college buildings.

Chef Amie Burns packing food for students to use with remote learning.

“We chose ingredients and recipes that would work well in a home setting but still emphasize the skills and techniques needed for each course,” explained Deanna Freridge, who is teaching  American Regional Cuisine this semester.

Students picked up their ingredients maintaining social distancing and staying outside college buildings.

TCC chefs Freridge, Carolyn Blackmon and Amie Burns recorded their labs, including a demo on how to prepare your kitchen for home learning. During the first few days, their goodies included cranberry orange scones, cream of broccoli soup and potato and onion knish.

All of the demos are available in Canvas, the college’s learning platform, and on YouTube. Additionally, lectures are offered via Zoom video chat.

 “So far there are no hiccups in the road,” said student chef Valerie DeFreitas. “I’m pleased with how things are going. We received our products in a timely fashion and are now cooking and learning as usual.”

Students receive a checklist of the skills they need to learn for each lab, and then record videos showing themselves completing each recipe. The final step is to upload their videos to Canvas so they earn credit for their work.

Burns encourages students to keep the videos candid. “We just want to see your technique. With limited food supplies, we don’t expect a bunch of different takes. Don’t worry if the dog barks or your kid pops in. Just keep rolling with it,” she said.

All of the Spring Semester courses are underway in a remote format, including Principles of Culinary Arts, Principles of Baking and the advanced American Regional Cuisine. Other non-lab classes being taught are Food and Beverage Cost Control, Labor Cost Control and Beverage Management.

“With cooking I get the vibe that you have to work with what you have,” said student chef Melissa Coleman. “And while we might not have the same equipment at home, we can make it work and learn to improvise. In the long run, these are important skills to have.”

“We are really glad to have all of this technology so we can keep our students going,” Freridge said. “We’re finding that they are all willing and excited to be cooking remotely.”

Remote learning with the culinary program also allows student chefs to provide food for their families during a challenging time.

“We are grateful to be able to help ease the pinch many are feeling during this time,” added Nancy Prather-Johnson, dean of Business. “Providing meals for families is a nice plus to all of this.”

WTKR’s Margaret Kavanagh talked with TCC students and chefs about remote learning in their home kitchens. See more at WTKR-TV.

Create a peaceful, productive study space

Learning at home can be fraught with distractions.  With remote learning in full swing, make sure your study space works for you.

Jennifer Hopkins, Interior Design program head at Tidewater Community College, offers these tips to create a peaceful, productive corner in your world.

“During this extraordinary time, we are spending more time at home and our spaces need to be functional and comfortable,” she said.

Here’s how:

  • Find a work space away from the chaos of daily life and commit to honoring your school schedule (if possible) so you can succeed. This may take help from family members who also want to see you achieve.
  • If you do school work during the day, find a location that has good natural light and/or a view. It takes hours focused on technology to learn online, so nice lighting will prevent strain and provide a break from screen time. 
  • Many students enjoy music in the background to help block distractions, create a sense of calm and remain on task. Studies show that classical music remains the No. 1 choice for productivity. But your music should work for you, whether it’s Mozart or Drake.
  • Arrange your work area to prevent glare while still providing plenty of light. Desk lamps should be placed on the left side for a right-handed person so paperwork isn’t shaded by the working hand. Left-handed people should do the opposite.
  • If young children are in the home, make sure you put all school work away between sessions to prevent curious or sticky hands from wandering too close!
  • Fully clean or declutter your space each evening to make your routine less stressful the next day. Put something beautiful near you such as a plant, flowers or favorite photo.  

TCC will extend remote learning through the spring semester

Tidewater Community College will continue remote learning for all students for the remainder of the spring semester.

All campuses and buildings are closed to students and the public through April 4. The college will provide virtual services only. TCC converted to remote learning on March 23 due to COVID-19.

Students needing support are encouraged to use TCC’s virtual resources. They can also connect with the college via chat through, by phone at 757-822-1111 or by emailing

Back to class with Canvas and Zoom

It’s almost time to get back to your studies, but are you ready for remote instruction?

With classes resuming on Monday, March 23, now is the time to learn how to succeed in your remote courses.

If the concept is a bit daunting, Tidewater Community College has an e-course just for you. A new resource developed by the college introduces you to remote learning through Canvas and Zoom.

To access this resource use this link.

The course is user-friendly and includes three sections:

*Learning Online
*Learning with Canvas
*Learning with Zoom

In Learning Online, you’ll discover the basics about technology access, which includes specifics on computer requirements. It also has lessons on time management, communications skills, study skills and resources for everything from tutoring to free Office 365 and virus protection.

In Learning with Canvas, you will see how to use Canvas effectively. Canvas is TCC’s learning management system that facilitates the delivery of course materials online. Beginning March 23, all TCC courses will be available to students in Canvas. To access Canvas, sign in to myTCC and click on the Canvas icon.

You may also access Canvas by navigating directly to or by downloading the Canvas student app to your mobile device. For more information about how to use the Canvas Student app, review the Canvas Student Android Guide or the Canvas Student iOS Guide.

Zoom is TCC’s web conferencing solution designed to make you feel like you are sitting in class. Your instructor can share information in lecture format and you can both write on a screen-annotated whiteboard. Zoom includes two-way audio and video, customized screen sharing, breakout rooms for group work and a chat function.

You can also set up Zoom study groupsby inviting others to join a meeting you are hosting.

Students may access Zoom by signing into myTCC and clicking on the Zoom icon. You can also navigate directly to, or download the Zoom app to your mobile device.  

Students who do not have a computer can apply to Computers for Student Success to receive one. Applications are ranked on need and urgency of need. If your application is approved, most students pay only a $25 processing fee. Those with the most urgent need can receive their computer for free. Here is the application link. Also, the club repairs student computers for $20. Call 757-512-5807 or email with questions.

As we move to remote learning, remember that we are here to help. Contact TCC’s Canvas support team by email or use the online help request form or call 757-822-1470. The hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also contact TCC’s Information Center by emailing or calling 757-822-1122 and selecting option 4.

TCC expands its online options so you can earn your degree without coming to campus

If you think you don’t have time to come to campus for college, consider pursuing one of Tidewater Community College’s online degrees or certificates. Three are brand new this fall semester, which starts on Aug. 19.

TCC offers 15 in-demand programs fully online. On the list: Business Administration, General Studies, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, Accounting, Acquisition and Procurement, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management, Industrial Technology, Management, Land Surveying and Technical Studies.

TCC’s newest online programs are:

*Associate of Applied Science in Hospitality Management
*Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision
*Career Studies Certificate in Acquisition and Procurement

TCC’s online programs offer the identical degree or certificate you would be earning if you were attending classes on campus.

And with 24/7 access to your virtual classroom, you can fit college study into your schedule on your time.

New! Hospitality Management 

Tourism is among the top three industries in Hampton Roads, and businesses are eager to please tourists and business travelers. If you have a people-first mentality, TCC’s hospitality management degree can prepare you for a fulfilling career in the lodging industry.

You’ll take courses in supervisory management, accounting, communications, cost control and marketing – a wide range to prepare you with the business background necessary to succeed in this dynamic field.

New! Technical Studies 

Your technical knowhow gives you a head start with this degree. This program rewards you for technical skills and professional experience already mastered. Start with up to 23 credits of advanced standing.

TCC launched this degree specifically for skilled workers who need formal education to advance their careers. The program is also one of our Z-Degree offerings, meaning you will pay zero for textbooks.

New! Acquisition and Procurement

This certificate prepares you for employment or advancement in positions within the industry. Accelerated curriculum enables you to complete the program in just two semesters

Course work covers contract law, pricing, negotiations and other processes. You will learn how to process requests for materials, manage inventory and troubleshoot issues with orders. Students are also instructed in the fundamentals of contract pricing and negotiation.

Interested? Find one-on-one help with financial aid, academic advising and registering for classes on any campus during Special Enrollment Day on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. New students can also receive help from TCC’s student support team by calling 757-822-1111 or emailing

Technical Studies degree now offered 100% online with no textbook cost

A year after Tidewater Community College launched an associate degree designed specifically for skilled workers who need formal education to advance their careers, the program is becoming even more flexible for its students.

Starting this fall, TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision can be completed 100% online and students will pay nothing for textbooks.

That’s more good news for the degree that continues to garner industry support.

“We came to TCC because we saw the need for our employees and worked together to develop a program that would award credit for technical knowledge and work experience,” said George Faatz, director of growth & strategic planning at Virginia Natural Gas. “TCC heard us, acted on it and created a program that fits our needs and the needs of many in the Hampton Roads workforce.”

Students in the program can be awarded as many as 23 credits for relevant job-related training and prior professional experience, a plus for skilled workers who don’t have two years to dedicate solely to academics to earn an associate degree.

Since the program launched in partnership with Old Dominion University, companies including Busch Manufacturing, LLC, Oceaneering and Virginia Natural Gas have come on board.

Participating companies cover tuition and fees for their employees. As the program is now part of the college’s Z-Degree, students will use open educational resources instead of traditional textbooks. That translates to paying nothing for textbooks.

In addition to offering all classes online, students can also continue the face-to-face option if they prefer.

Moving forward

Mike Petrice, organizational development manager at Busch, joined two of his apprentices in pursuing the degree last year.

“Getting credits for past work was a huge morale booster and what gave me the motivation to keep going,” Petrice said. “I’ve been in manufacturing for 32 years and managing people for over 20 years. The material I’m learning in class often gives me that ‘Oh, now I know why we do it that way effect,’” he said.

Petrice received the maximum of 23 credits given his background, meaning he needs 37 more to earn his associate degree. He recommended the program to all the employees in Busch’s machine shop. “I thought I’d be the oldest student in the class at my age, 49,” he said. “But once I got there, I’m right in the middle. It’s a comfortable environment.” 

Coursework focuses on industrial supervision, technical writing, information literacy, quality assurance, team concepts and problem-solving and more.

Ken Magee, newly named manager of community affairs with Virginia Natural Gas, is anticipated to be the first student to earn the degree, completing coursework requirements this summer. He plans to transfer to Old Dominion University’s industrial technology program. Magee is one of four employees in the program from Virginia Natural Gas recently promoted to supervisory or management roles.

With the graying of the workforce in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, education and professional development are essential for the Hampton Roads economy.

“We are seeing plenty of retirements, creating opportunities for people to move up,” Faatz said. “This degree prepares employees for supervisory, management and ultimately, leadership roles.”

Guy St. John, apprentice program manager at Oceaneering, agreed. “We are responsible for bringing up new craftsmen, as well as supervisors and leaders. 

“The Technical Studies degree is a continuation of what these employees are learning in their trade and advances their knowledge in other areas, including supervision, communication and advanced technical skills.”

Want to learn more?

For more information on how your organization can get employees on track with the Technical Studies degree, email Karen Miller, program coordinator of the college’s Apprentice Institute, at

Prospective students can contact the new student support team @ for information.

In crafting her own obit, alumna found her purpose

Bianca Wilson got stumped writing her own obituary. What sounds like an awkward college assignment turned into an enlightening moment for the woman who would one day become the first African-American female train conductor at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY).

Wilson with Ertha Barnes, Christina Kurtz and Taariq Brown at the Norfolk Campus Student Center.

The Tidewater Community College alumna and Navy wife shared her story with students during a keynote address for Women’s History Month on March 7 at the Norfolk Campus Student Center.

During her student development class, the instructor assigned students to write their own obituary as homework. Wilson jotted down being a stay-at-home wife and mother but yearned for some professional accomplishments.

“This was my aha moment. It changed my whole perspective,” she said. “I was unhappy as to how my children would view me as a mother and a woman and the legacy I would leave them.”

So she enrolled in TCC’s administrative support technology program and balanced motherhood with being a student.

“I checked into labor and delivery at Chesapeake General and still had to complete a writing assignment for a class. I brought my laptop and books and completed the work while in active labor,” she said.

Wilson was a student ambassador at Portsmouth Campus and a regional honors chair for Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year schools. While she took all but two of her classes online, she felt part of the college because of professors who invested in her success.

“The teachers made it easy for me and provided one-on-one help, often over the phone,” Wilson said. “We were a community of learners, even if we were doing it remotely.”

Business instructor Peggy Scott impressed her with her kindness. “She sent a letter to my home telling me that she was amazed at my work and the fortitude I’d shown, and offered to write me a letter of reference,” Wilson said. “She encouraged me when I wanted to give up. Even though I’ve never laid eyes on her, I feel as though I know her for years.”

While taking classes at TCC, Wilson went to work at NNSY, following the path of her great grandfather, grandfather and dad. Today she transports heavy equipment across the yard.

Bianca Wilson on the train at Norfolk Naval Shipyard
Wilson at work on the train at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

“A lot of what we move are the anchors, shafts for the carriers, and fuel,” she told the monthly newsletter for NNSY. “This is one of the most dangerous jobs – you’re dealing with tonnage. It’s heavy. We have to be very careful. We’re always making sure we’re safe. There’s a lot of traffic here, and people will walk right in front of the train. And we don’t have lights and bells ringing when we cross streets, so we have to be hype-aware.”

Wilson graduated from TCC in 2018 with an Associate of Applied Science in Administrative Support Technology. She would like to parlay her experience into a management position at the shipyard. She plans to attend Old Dominion University for business management.

Wilson also owns a photography business, Everlasting Pictures and Photobooth, LLC. She and husband Stanley have three daughters.

“Never give up, no matter how hard it gets, or how slow you have to go,” Wilson advises. “The only thing that beats a failure is not trying at all.”