Skip navigation

“Now that I’ve been at TCC for two semesters, I can say it was the best decision ever.” — Rachel Dunn, TCC student

Rachel Dunn is proud to be a Tidewater Community College Student Ambassador and Outstanding High School Graduate Scholar.

“I never really considered community college until my godmother encouraged me to apply,” Rachel said. “Now that I’ve been at TCC for two semesters, I can say it was the best decision ever.”

As an Outstanding High School Graduate Scholar, Rachel is earning her associate degree in two years and paying zero for tuition and fees.

“I started at the community college understanding that it would be a slower pace and I could gather myself and get ready for my four-year school,” she said.

Rachel Dunn at the Portsmouth Campus Student Center.

This scholarship includes required volunteer hours on campus, but Rachel sees this as another benefit. She engages prospective and current students during campus events and also works in the Portsmouth Campus Students Center.

“In the time I’ve known Rachel, I’ve seen how well she manages multiple responsibilities from maintaining a high GPA, to serving as a student ambassador, to caring for younger siblings and working a part-time job,” said Charlene Taylor, Student Center staff member. “I’ve never seen her shy away from a task and she is always willing to serve.”

The student ambassador program also includes leadership training, mentoring and public speaking. All of these opportunities add to the learning curve, especially the soft skills necessary for many careers.

Rachel got her start at the college while she was still in high school. She took dual enrollment classes as a senior at Churchland High. “I was nervous about college, but all that changed after my first class,” she said. “My professor was supportive and encouraging. It helped with my confidence and was just what I needed.”

Rachel is enthusiastic about animals and hopes to one day be a veterinarian. Her work at TCC gave her the courage to begin shadowing a travelling veterinarian in the area.

“I tell everyone no matter how uncomfortable you may be, get out there and give TCC a try,” Rachel said. “The people will be kind to you and the school is like a family. You can’t go wrong coming here.”

In her free time, Rachel spends time with her dog, Cody. She also enjoys hanging out with friends, bowling and helping the Churchland High softball team with their training. Rachel is a former player and was captain of the team during her senior year.

The deadline to apply for the Outstanding High School Graduate Scholarship is April 8, 2022. For more information, contact TCC’s Virtual Student Support Team at 757-822-1111. To learn more about TCC’s dual enrollment program, visit here.

Portsmouth dual enrollment students learn a trade that will last a lifetime

Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus is home to the area’s largest welding lab.

On most weekday mornings, students from Portsmouth Public Schools are transported from their high schools to the Portsmouth Campus, where they are learning a trade that will last a lifetime.

  • Aurora Finchum
  • Moody with students in the lab.

Instructor Marcus Moody, a TCC graduate, provides instruction and guides students with their hands-on learning.

“I like teaching welding because we’re giving students a skill that will last the rest of their life. I enjoy seeing that spark when they get it,” Moody said. “Coming from industry, I’m sharing job success skills too. We talk a lot about responsibility, accountability, being on time and safety on the job.”

Once in the lab, students put on safety gear and head to individual booths where they can safely handle the tools of the trade. During each session, Moody, ever watchful, moves about the lab assisting students with their projects.

“We’ve been delivering hands-on instruction to our dual-enrolled welding students even though Portsmouth Public Schools are still fully remote,” said Thomas Stout, pathway dean for Maritime and Skilled Trades. “We have 22 students, and they were all eager to get back in the lab.”

TCC’s welding curriculum lines up with industry standards. The lab is an official testing facility for the American Welding Society.

Students who complete the program are sought by employers in South Hampton Road, including shipyards, power plants and private companies. The median pay, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, exceeds $42,000.

What students are saying

“I picked up welding pretty easily. It’s just fun to me. I plan to do nuclear welding on a ship or power station. I’m more confident now and know I will get a job after high school without having to do extra training. It helps that Mr. Moody is a pretty good teacher and very understanding.” – Aurora Finchum, Churchland High

“I want to be an underwater welder. I like being in the water, and I like welding. With this job, I can combine two things I enjoy.  Mr. Moody is a great teacher. He won’t tell you the answer but leads you to find it on your own. That’s how you get better. Every day I learn more and more.” – Ryan Payton, Woodrow Wilson High

About the instructor

A skilled technician, Moody has more than seven years of industry experience. He has worked in machine shops and for private contractors, where he built parts for machinery.

More information

Learn about TCC’s welding certificate programs here or contact Dean Stout at For information about TCC’s dual enrollment programs for high school students, email

TCC to host virtual information session for homeschoolers and parents

Homeschool families in search of educational options are invited to take part in a special virtual information session hosted by Tidewater Community College.

The session will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, Dec. 16, from noon to 1:30 p.m. RSVP here to receive the Zoom link.

The session is designed for homeschooled juniors and seniors who are interested in earning college credits while still in high school.

To qualify for TCC’s high school dual enrollment program, a student must be classified as a junior or senior in a qualified homeschool program and meet college readiness standards.

For information, contact Dionna Jean-Baptiste at

Dual enrollment students who took care of business at TCC now thriving at James Madison University

Leora Friedman and Landon Elforsi didn’t want to waste time or money in college given the daunting load both anticipated as undergraduates in James Madison University’s College of Business this fall.

Both are among the inaugural class of graduates from the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy, a partnership between Tidewater Community College and Kempsville High School.

The academy offers three strands of study: entrepreneurship/innovation; business information; and the area that best suited Elforsi and Friedman, corporate finance. Students accepted into the academy are exposed to multiple dual enrollment credit opportunities, which allow them to earn an associate degree while in high school.

Last May, Friedman and Elforsi, along with a dozen of their peers, earned TCC’s Associate of Science in Business Administration. A month later, they completed their high school diplomas.

All of their general education requirements and six of the nine courses required for admission to JMU’s College of Business — ranked in the top 20 among public institutions nationwide — transferred seamlessly. Five of the 14 graduates of the academy attend JMU.

“The opportunity at TCC was very good,” said Elforsi, a finance major who was also accepted into the University of Virginia. “To be offered to complete two years of college before you graduate high school — especially when you’re completing the college part that nobody wants to do — I think it’s great!”

Essentially, the dual enrollment program added up to the future financial advisor, who did not want to pay four-year tuition rates for biology, communication and the other courses that typically fill a college freshman’s schedule.

Friedman’s mouthful of a double major — quantitative finance and math— is arguably the most rigorous at JMU’s College of Business. Fewer than 20 graduate from it every semester. A high level of difficulty appeals to Friedman, who is appreciative that she can commit so much time this semester to her business classes as dual enrollment through TCC satisfied all of her gen-ed requirements.

“It’s definitely one of the harder majors here,” said Friedman, who added an economics minor. “Now that I don’t have to take those gen-ed classes, I can really focus on my harder classes and take less credits each semester. I don’t have to worry about writing a paper on something that doesn’t really interest me.”

Both embrace numbers and mathematics and have for as long as they can remember. Elforsi, 18 and already talking about opening a Roth IRA, jokes he would return from vacation with more money than he left with. Friedman enjoyed math even in elementary school and embraces calculus with a passion.

“When I did the AP Calculus exam I did really well,” she said. “That’s how I knew I should major in it in college.”

In addition to the credits and accounting firm internships completed by each, Elforsi and Friedman felt prepared for the demands of the college classroom. They credit their TCC foundation for that.

“In college, the work is put on you rather than the teacher telling you what to do,” Friedman said. “You have to study. It totally helped me now that I’m at a university. I’m more used to it than my peers.”

Elforsi recommends the academy for those driven to succeed.

“Take dual enrollment over AP classes,” Elforsi said. “Because if you do well in a dual enrollment class, that’s guaranteed college credit.”

For more information, contact Meghan Timlin, academy coordinator at .