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Navy center partners with TCC to provide STEM camp for youth

Tidewater Community College worked with community partner Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) to host a weeklong summer camp for youth, ages 11-15, from high schools across Hampton Roads.

Held July 17-21, the purpose of the camp was to foster a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in students and to showcase careers in these fields. Students also learned important lessons from guest speakers and completed hands-on activities throughout the week.

TCC Dean Nancy Prather-Johnson welcomed students and shared about her journey. “As I was growing up, I was considered part of the underrepresented population and underprivileged community. It was summer programs like this one that exposed me to STEM careers at a young age,” she said.

She continued, “I attended a math and science-specific high school for students who were high achievers in the subjects. Although I didn’t continue my pursuit of becoming a computer science engineer, I am now the dean of Computer Science and Business at a community college and that gives me the opportunity to pay it forward and expose kids like me to these growing fields.”

NIWC STEM Lead, Shawn Frazier, believes the partnership with TCC will greatly benefit the youth attending camp. He enjoys hosting it on campus in order to help the students visualize their futures in college and see themselves pursuing their dream careers. He says, “I want to help students to see themselves as that scientist, engineer, mathematician, or whatever it is they want to do. TCC has been a great partner to help me do that.”

This camp provides students the opportunity to participate in interactive projects such as creating and launching their own rockets, as well as coding on a Raspberry Pi computer, which is the technology that is used on the International Space Station.

The program allows campers to experience STEM in a way that differs from what they learn in school. In addition to the opportunity to grow their STEM knowledge, this camp creates a sense of community for STEM students in the Hampton Roads area. Jorden, a camp student, said, “One of my favorite things about camp has been making friends that have the same interests as me.”

Camp instructor, Daron Moore, has been with the NIWC STEM Camp program since it started 12 years ago. He says, “It’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to plant the STEM seeds in children’s minds and see where it takes them. You get to see them years later achieving their childhood dreams that began at camp.”

For more information regarding future summer camps, contact Prather-Johnson at

Taking flight at TCC’s Drone Academy

Tidewater Community College’s summer Drone Academy, sponsored by the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services and coordinated by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, provided a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones.

This camp was for students with disabilities with an interest in drones and pursuing a career in the field.

“TCC’s Drone Academy provided students with a place to utilize their creativity while gaining knowledge in a subject they are enthusiastic about,” said Judy Gill, director of UAS operations and drone professor. “It is wonderful to see students grow in their skills and knowledge of this emerging field.”

In addition to learning to fly drones, students were able to tour TCC’s state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center, view a planetarium show, see a Physics of Flight demonstration, hear from guest speakers and attend a career exploration session.

Students also learned the basics of drone photography from TCC Professor Thomas Siegmund. They practiced flying drones and obtaining quality images at the same time.

Students also learned about the extensive rules and regulations that must be adhered to when flying an Unmanned Aircraft System. Gavin, a camp student, said, “I didn’t realize before how stressful it is to fly a professional drone. There is a lot that goes on besides just flying it.”

After completing their TRUST Certification Exam, students were permitted to operate the drones themselves. At the end of the week, they had the chance to highlight their new skills by participating in the Drone Physics Olympics against other campers. Campers worked together to design and implement an obstacle course and timed how quickly they could fly the drone through the course.

In addition to their drone pilot skills, students worked together to foster the skills of team building and communication.

TCC offers drone classes each semester and will soon be launching a full Drone Program. For more information, email Gill at

TCC team takes third place in national robotic competition

Engineering students at Tidewater Community College took third place in the 2022 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Model Design Competition.

Teams from across the nation competed by building their robots and also developing a presentation about the design and build experience.

“I’m very proud of this team,” said William Simmons, Engineering professor and faculty advisor. “They did a tremendous job on their presentation and while the robot had a few hiccups, it was a great showing for the college.”

TCC team members are Delaney Theilman, Phillip Le, Danny Benson, Josh Hayes, Jacob Hayes, Jacob Ramirez and Will Dawson.

The TCC robot named “Merciless Tillie” is the fourth robot built by TCC students specifically for the competition.

“Practice makes perfect, and we did plenty of that preparing for this competition,” said Delaney Theilman, TCC engineering student and the team leader. “We had to come up with our own ideas and not use any kits.”

This ASEE competition is open to students at both 2-year and 4-year colleges. All of the TCC’s participants are members of the Engineering Club and the STEM Club.

The competition is held each year as part of the ASEE annual conference. The goal of the competition is to give student teams an opportunity to use the engineering design process to build an autonomous vehicle to complete a specified task and on a specified track.

“Competitions like this one build on what we are learning in the classroom,” Theilman added. “We became sort of jack of all trades in getting the project completed.”

Student teams faced many realistic challenges in this competition, such as constraints on cost, size, batteries, and, of course, time.

“It was a really great experience to build and troubleshoot the robot. We learned a lot by figuring out what was working and what wasn’t,” said Jacob Ramirez, TCC engineering student.

Student Josh Hayes added, “We gained skills in using the Inventor software and coding. We also made all of the complex parts using 3-D printers, laser cutters and other tools in the lab.”

Building success! The robot takes off on the right track.

Student teams not only have to build a vehicle to navigate the course and complete a specific task, but also have to give presentations before a panel of judges and provide written reports that include a summary of the team’s design efforts, CAD drawings, parts list and a cost analysis.

Engineering student Jacob Hayes added, “We learned those soft skills, too, like how to convey information and work as a team. The best part was making new friends.”

To learn more about TCC’s STEM programs, contact the Virtual Student Support Team at 757-822-1111.

Grad finds path to new career in genetic counseling

Brook Ogden says the TCC tagline, ‘From here, go anywhere,’ rings true. “I was in a job I didn’t enjoy. Now I’m on a path for a career I’m excited about,” she said.

Brook spent her 20s working for a real estate company. She considered becoming a broker and even passed the state licensing exam. “That small accomplishment gave me the courage to believe in myself and propelled me forward,” Brook said.

Today, Odgen, 30, has clear career goals and a passion for serving others.

She will walk across the stage during Tidewater Community College’s 74th Commencement at Chartway Arena and earn an Associate of Science in Science.

Brook has her sights set on the emerging field of genetic counseling, where she will help people live healthier lives by checking genetic markers. ““I’ll be starting in a relatively new field of science and be able to help people invest in their health and future,” she said.

Brook encourages other women to consider the STEM fields. “I had four different science labs and I learned so much in each one. That knowledge will be foundational for my future learning,” she added.

Brook started at TCC’s Chesapeake Campus because it was right down the street from her home and the campus was small enough to not feel overwhelming. “I’d been out of high school for so long, and something about the small classes and being able to talk with professors was really appealing,” she said.

And while Brook didn’t apply herself in high school, she was a top performer at TCC, earning a 3.9 GPA.

A work-study student in the Chesapeake Campus Student Center, Brook says she gained a lot of leadership experience and new skills. She said, “It was challenging and like no job I’d had before. But the best part was the people who became like family.”

Brook sends a shout-out to history Professor Kevin Brady. “He was my favorite teacher ever. His storytelling abilities are legendary and he cares about his students, and it shows,” she said.

This summer Brook is putting her biology degree to work and interning with Chesapeake Mosquito Control Commission. She will be working alongside biologists to study local mosquito populations and monitor mosquito-borne diseases.

A native of Blacksburg, Virginia, Brook is continuing her studies at James Madison University where she will earn a bachelor of science in biology. She also hopes to continue for a master’s degree.

“My professors captivated me and instilled a love of learning and I’m really grateful to TCC for all they’ve done for me,” Brook said.

Brook and her husband, Mike, have two pups – a Great Dane, named Iris, and a toy Poodle, called Pooh. They are excited to return to the mountains of Virginia and look forward to hiking and spending time with family.

“I like everything at TCC and tell everyone I know to start here.” – David Hopkins, TCC STEM Promise Scholar

Meet David Hopkins, a Tidewater Community College STEM Promise Scholar.

David is following in his dad’s footsteps and preparing for a career in cyber security.

A Suffolk resident, David has adjusted well to college life after years of homeschooling.

“My favorite thing about TCC is the opportunities,” David said. “I especially like working with classmates on projects, going to the campus gym and just hanging out with people after class.”

As a STEM Promise Scholar, David pays no tuition or fees as he earns an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security in two years.

David was invited to participate in Innovate Cyber at Old Dominion University, a program designed to help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in the cyber security and information technology fields.

Through the program, he is working on a design project that mirrors work in the real world. “We’re creating a cyber hygiene company that helps organizations assess risks for cyber-attacks,” he said. “It’s been really eye-opening as my career goal is to find a position that combines cyber defense and offense.”

David is completing his first year at TCC and is confident that he made the right choice starting at a community college. “TCC costs less and was a good way to get my feet wet in college. I know better what to expect when I transfer to a university,” he said.

David has three favorite professors so far: Thomas Geary who teaches English and Christopher Boyle and Gary Noah who teach computer science. “I like everything about TCC and tell everyone I know to start here,” he said.

In his free time, David enjoys walking his dog, Presley, going to the gym and playing video games.

David hopes to one day work in cyber security for the FBI or the National Security Agency.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at TCC. My professors have been flexible and available to answer questions,” David said. “And It was definitely easier than I thought to get going on my degree.”

Take pre-calc with Mr. Z and you’ll learn more than numbers

Take pre-calculus from Tidewater Community College’s Aziz Zahraoui and you won’t just learn about numbers. You’ll learn how they apply to life.

The adjunct instructor on the Portsmouth Campus is one of two Virginians to receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. In addition to teaching at the college, Zahraoui has taught math at Churchland High School for the last 15 years.

“What is this used for?” is the question Zahraoui returns to repeatedly when presenting his students with an equation.

“Most math didn’t fall from the sky,” he said. “You’re solving an actual problem. I anchor all of my lessons in a particular problem.”

Sometimes it’s how to correctly determine the amount of fondant for an awkwardly sized cake. Or how you make sure your $1,000 drone doesn’t fly astray.

“We are learning mathematics, but not because of a problem from a textbook but because we need a real-world solution,” he said.

Moroccan-born Zahraoui, whose students call him Mr. Z, moved to this country at age 22 to pursue his education.

“I’m one of those dreamers,” he said. “I wanted to work for NASA. When I was looking at the U.S. I was looking at schools that had a connection with NASA.”

Zahraoui’s aspirations relating to space initially made him consider enlisting in the Air Force. A trip to King’s Dominion changed his mind.

“It was the first time I had been into a theme park,” he said. His reaction? “Never again.”

He couldn’t stomach the physical effect of being off the ground. He tossed the letters from the military and recalibrated. He took his early classes at TCC before completing a bachelor’s in computer science at Old Dominion University.

Walking to the stage on his graduation day from Old Dominion, a friend tapped him on the shoulder and advised, “You really should consider teaching.”

Something inside him awakened. His parents, still in Morocco, can’t read or write, but education has always been huge for his family. His father took out a second mortgage so Zahraoui could come to the United States to study.

Now Zahraoui’s passion is helping others learn, and he stresses the value of starting at a community college.

“Anybody who is taking higher ed courses, they cannot not think about the advantage of taking classes at such an affordable price,” he said. “TCC was a no-brainer for me, and the quality of education is comparable to the four-year.”

From TCC to cyber crime fighter

At 10 years old, Jena Essary taught herself coding. No surprise then that at 19, she’s one of Tidewater Community College’s STEM Promise scholars.

Essary is completing her Associate of Science in Computer Science. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition and fees for four semesters. By taking textbook-free classes, she spent zero on textbooks, using open educational resources instead.

“This is a win-win for me, and definitely my passion,” said Essary who wants to make her future in the growing field of cyber security.

Essary could have gone almost anywhere after graduating from the STEM Academy at Grassfield High with a 4.6 GPA.

Jena Essary in a chemistry lab on the Chesapeake Campus.

“My dad was really pro-TCC, even though I wanted to start at Virginia Tech. But now, I’m really amazed at the academic quality and the friends I’ve made,” she said. “TCC isn’t what you would expect it to be. It offers more than you think.”

While here, Essary served in student government, helped plan the launch of a food pantry to serve needy students on campus and joined Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year schools.

“My favorite thing about TCC is the community feel, especially at the Chesapeake Campus,” she said. “We all know each other, and with the smaller class sizes, we get to interact with our professors.”

Essary recently received the Virginia Space Grant Consortium Community College STEM scholarship. She is using the $2,000 scholarship to help pay for higher-level math classes, outside of her degree track.

 “There’s a lot of pressure in high school to go to those big-name schools,” Essary said. “But do your own research. Figure out your own path. And if you choose TCC, get involved and build connections that will benefit you as you journey from here to the next place.”

Apply now for TCC’s STEM Promise Program

High school seniors, adult learners and military-related students who want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can apply to Tidewater Community College for a scholarship that pays four semesters of tuition and fees in full.

The TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Program will award 20 scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year. Recipients will graduate ready to enter a career or to transfer to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

 “Demand for workers with skills in higher-paying STEM fields is expected to continue to outpace demand for non-STEM workers over the next decade,” said program coordinator Jaedda Hall. “This program is designed to create a larger and more diverse STEM workforce pipeline for our local area and beyond.”

STEM Promise Program scholars benefit from TCC’s smaller class sizes, specialized support from advisors and STEM career exploration and mentoring from the college’s Women’s Center.

To be eligible a student must:

  • qualify for in-state tuition;
  • have a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher;
  • place into College Composition (English 111) and Precalculus (Math 161) or higher;
  • have no more than 24 TCC credits;

Scholarship recipients must enroll as full-time students in one of the following TCC programs:

These associate degrees transfer to bachelor’s programs at four-year institutions. Graduates may be eligible for a Two-Year Transfer Grant from Virginia’s Community Colleges, which provides up to $3,000 annually for STEM students who complete their final two years at select universities in the Commonwealth.

Although the scholarship is aimed at women and minorities, anyone can apply. The deadline is March 1, 2020.

Interested students must first apply for admission to TCC. From there, they can apply for the scholarship by visiting

For more information, contact the TCC Enrollment Team at 757-822-1111 or

TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Program scholar snapshot

When Erin Fitzpatrick got accepted into Old Dominion University, she thought her college plan was set. Then she found out about Tidewater Community College’s Women’s Center Stem Promise Program.

Student in lab.
Fitzpatrick in physics lab.

Two years of tuition and fees would be paid for. She’d complete two years of college without accruing any debt. She’d receive specialized support from academic advisors and mentoring from TCC’s Women’s Center.

The high-achieving Kempsville High School student was one of 19 accepted into the program last fall.

“Starting at TCC was definitely the right step for me,” said Fitzpatrick, earning her Associate of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology. “I’ve been really impressed with the teachers and enjoy the smaller classes that enable me to get extra help and also connect with classmates.”

The TCC STEM Promise Program awards up to 20 scholarships each year to qualifying students. The program, which pays tuition and fees for two full academic years, is designed to boost the number of degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics awarded to females and minority students. Anyone is eligible to apply for the scholarship.

Fitzpatrick lives at home and works a part-time job. “This has been a win-win for me,” she said. “I’ll be transferring to Old Dominion in a year, and I’ll be debt free. That’s a big deal.”

Students in physics lab
Ethan Hoskins-Propst, Fitzpatrick and Isaac Vanderley, who is also a STEM Promise Program scholar.

Fitzpatrick is no stranger to the Virginia Beach Campus and the Advanced Technology Center (ATC). While attending Kempsville, she was part of the engineering technology program offered in the ATC through Virginia Beach Public Schools.

“A lot of people don’t know how much TCC has to offer,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a great place to figure out your path and then prepare for next steps.”

Applications are due for the STEM Promise Program by March 1. For more information, contact Jaedda Hall, program coordinator, at

Learn how to qualify for TCC’s full-ride STEM Promise Scholarship at Q&A Session

Jen Essary, 2018 STEM Promise Scholar, Associate of Science with a Specialization in Computer Science

Join us on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 3 p.m. on the Tidewater Community College Facebook page for a Facebook Live to learn about TCC’s exciting full-ride scholarship opportunity: The TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Program.

The TCC STEM Promise Program awards 20 scholarships each year to qualifying students. The scholarship pays tuition and fees for 2 full academic years at TCC.

Professor Bill Simmons
Bill Simmons, engineering professor, Chesapeake Campus

William Simmons, engineering professor, and Jena Essary, scholarship recipient, will join Jaedda Hall, program coordinator, for a half-hour Q&A session via Facebook Live. Interested students and parents are invited to tune in and learn more about how to qualify for the program and why the scholarship is a great opportunity for students interested in STEM fields.

RSVP Online via Facebook!

Applications for the 2019-20 academic year are currently being accepted. The deadline to apply is March 1.

View the application requirements at:

Interested but can’t attend? Email Our New Student Support Team will send you the full video recording as soon as it’s available!

Her first geology class was at TCC. Now licensed in the field, alumna a shareholder in her company

As a licensed geologist and shareholder for Kimley-Horn & Associates, Michelle Wharton enjoys helping people meet their goals.

Tidewater Community College helped Wharton discover hers.

The high achiever from Great Bridge High School didn’t have a plan after graduation. Her parents pushed the military, but Wharton rejected that idea in favor of working while putting herself through college.

TCC made sense on multiple fronts. It was affordable, and class size was small. She didn’t want to feel swallowed by attending a large university as a freshman.

“It was a wonderful fit,” Wharton said.  “The campus was nice, the professors were great. It’s a good transition if you’re not sure what you want to do. Even if you do know, it’s a good place.”

Wharton first considered business, then environmental engineering and finally decided on environmental science. She took her first geology class at TCC and from there, she was hooked on the STEM field where jobs are plentiful.

“It’s a visual science, and as a visual learner, I found geology fascinating,” she said.

Wharton worked two jobs – balancing being a secretary at a local construction firm with taking pizza orders at Papa Johns – to pay for her schooling. Her final year, she was a bartender in Virginia Beach who juggled evening work with morning classes. Grants from TCC helped, too.

“I was focused, so I made it work,” she said. “I always had to work hard for my grades, but the professors helped. They were available. I remember meeting teachers in the city library after business hours.”

Wharton earned her Associate of Science in Science, a transfer degree that allowed her to enter Old Dominion University as a junior. A few years later, she earned her bachelor’s in science with a focus on geology.

“I was very much prepared for ODU,” she said. “I was on the Dean’s List. The transfer process was easy. I was employed immediately after graduation.”

A hidden benefit of going to school locally: Her professors are nearby for any on-the-job question that arises.

“Having local connections helps,” she said.

A year and change after her first job as an environmental scientist, Wharton was hired at Kimley-Horn in Virginia Beach, one of the nation’s premier environmental planning and design consulting firms. She was thrilled to later become a shareholder – a crowning moment for her and an emotional one for her parents.

“Life is a journey with many highs and lows,” she said. “Stay focused on your goals and hard work and commitment will pay off. Determination and commitment will set you apart.”

One of her new projects involves shoreline work connected to the TCC Real Estate Foundation, which is developing College Point in northern Suffolk.

Wharton is an advocate for TCC, noting, “Don’t overthink it. It takes commitment and accountability. If you want it, you can do it.”

TCC Alumni: Connect, Contribute, Celebrate

With new technical studies degree, your work experience = college credit, saving you time and $$

Going from zero to the 60-some credits needed to earn an associate degree can be an overwhelming prospect if you work all day as apprentices Terrance Myers II and Matthew Ramsey do at Busch Manufacturing. Likewise for their manager, Mike Petrice, who started at the Virginia Beach industrial vacuum equipment supplier decades ago but never took the time to earn a college degree.

But thanks to a recent partnership between Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, all three are on their way to an associate degree and perhaps a bachelor’s.

TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision doesn’t require them to start with 0 credits in the bank. By taking into account relevant job-related training and prior professional experience, each of them can be awarded as many as 23 credits.

Given that, Myers said,  college “doesn’t feel so daunting anymore.”

The Great Bridge graduate initially got hired at Busch in the facilities department, but responded as Ramsey did to a post seeking apprentices. Neither would have pictured themselves going that route years ago. But earning wages while having schooling paid for made sense to both, who have already gained career studies certificates in computer numerical controls and basic metal and plastic machine operator.

The TCC-ODU partnership allows students who graduate from TCC with the Associate of Applied Science in Technical Studies with a Specialization in Technical Supervision to transition into ODU’s industrial technology major.

With both apprentices on board, Petrice considered his own goals. “In 1987, you didn’t need a degree to become a manager,” he said. Already an adjunct instructor at TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions, he’d like to work as a consultant when he eventually retires from Busch.

He realized, “I need a degree.”

So Petrice enrolled in the program, too. It starts with a Tuesday evening gateway class taught by Thomas Stout, TCC’s dean of STEM, who helps each of the students document their technical skills and professional experience in a portfolio. From there, a determination is made as to the number of credits TCC will award for advanced standing.

Petrice is likely to receive the maximum of 23 credits given his background, meaning he will only need 37 more to earn his associate degree. Ramsey could also receive 23 credits given his experience in the Army, a year of college at VMI and the learning he’s mastered as an apprentice.

Myers initially thought his portfolio would be thin but realized the safety and quality training he learned at Busch was applicable. He started making a list of relevant training under Stout’s direction, skills that will translate into college credit.

Petrice believes the associate degree is a good fit for others and recommended it to all the employees in Busch’s machine shop. “I thought I’d be the oldest student in the class at 49,” he said. “But once I got there, I’m right in the middle. It’s a comfortable environment.”

“No matter what you plan to do,” Ramsey said, “a degree gives you an advantage against the guys you’re competing against whether it’s here at Busch or down the road.”

To learn more about TCC’s technical studies degree visit

TCC awarded National Science Foundation grant for STEM

Tidewater Community College is part of a new coalition to diversify the nation’s workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by increasing the number of degrees awarded in those disciplines.

The National Science Foundation recently announced grants for six Louis Stokes regional centers of excellence in support of that effort. Minority populations, including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska natives, natives of Hawaii and native Pacific Islanders, continue to be underrepresented in the STEM fields. Student working in chemistry lab.

TCC’s award was for $197,000 over a three-year period.

TCC’s partner institutions in the Southeastern Coalition for Engagement and Exchange in Nanotechnology Education are Norfolk State University, Penn State University, NASA Langley Research Center, Jefferson National Laboratory Applied Research Center and Eastern Virginia Medical School.

“Demand for workers with skills in the higher paying STEM fields is expected to continue to outpace demand for non-STEM workers over the next decade,” said Thomas Stout, TCC’s dean of STEM. “We want to prepare our workforce to meet immediate and future needs.”

This partnership provides opportunities for TCC students to train in the semi-conductor fabrication labs at Norfolk State University. In doing so, they will gain valuable hands-on experience and prepare for work in the industry.

TCC offers an Associate of Science in Science transfer degree and multiple associate degrees in the health sciences, engineering and technology fields.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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