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New TCC-ODU Monarch Ready program creates pathway to success

A new agreement between Tidewater Community College (TCC) and Old Dominion University (ODU) provides students with a new path to higher education. The new TCC-ODU Monarch Ready program was created to increase student success in Hampton Roads.

The program offers students who need additional collegiate preparation prior to enrolling at ODU a chance to excel at TCC and guarantees their admission to ODU upon the completion of at least 24-credits at TCC with at least a 2.5 GPA. Students can continue at ODU and participate in TCC and ODU’s established reverse-transfer program, followed by auditing for degree completion at TCC after they become students at ODU.

“The Monarch Ready program is another excellent opportunity for Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College to continue in partnerships,” said Dr. Marcia Conston, TCC President.  “This program will benefit students who are seeking to enroll in college. TCC is excited to provide 24-credits of academic preparation for students who will transfer seamlessly to ODU.  I extend many thanks to Dr. Hemphill for his continued focus on student success.”

Students who participate in the TCC-ODU Monarch Ready program receive joint orientation into the program, as well as specialized, personalized assistance via academic advisors and academic success mentors. Individualized co-advising and access to on-campus support are also available. In addition, Career Development Services, Military Connection Centers, as well as the Student Resource and Empowerment Center and the Center for Military and Veterans Education are available. Athletic events, Transfer Tuesday, financial literacy workshops, faculty spotlights and other events and services make for a comprehensive experience.

“Through the Monarch Ready partnership with Tidewater Community College, Old Dominion University is committed to building a pathway for students to succeed. This program will positively impact the social mobility of students across Hampton Roads,” said President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. “I commend the team at ODU and TCC for their diligence in creating a sustainable framework to help students achieve their goals.”

Students who are interested in the TCC-ODU Monarch Ready program can receive information directly from TCC and ODU. To learn more about the agreement visit:

TCC alum builds career as journalist and publisher

Susan Smigielski Acker got her start at Tidewater Community College’s Virginia Beach Campus in 1985, back in the day when a single-lane road led to campus.

“TCC was my second chance after a failed attempt at ODU,” Susan said. “I thought I’d be at TCC for just a year, but I liked it so much I stayed for two.”

Susan completed all of her general education courses at TCC and went on to earn a bachelor’s in communications and English at Old Dominion University.

“I found my love for poetry at TCC when I took an English class with professor Ruth Mack,” Susan said. “She introduced me to Emily Dickinson and it is something I still read today. The rhythm of the words is something that draws me back time and again.”

After earning her degree, Susan spent more than 30 years as a journalist telling the stories of Hampton Roads by writing business news and feature stories. She wrote for Inside Business, the Daily Press and Senior Advocate to name a few. She also spent time in media sales.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Susan and her husband Scott launched their own media outlet, VA Peninsula Media, to provide a locally operated outlet to cover the events and stories that are meaningful to Peninsula residents.

The media includes “VA Peninsula Magazine,” a free bi-monthly print publication distributed at more than 90 high-traffic locations such as restaurants, medical offices, breweries and coffee shops.

They also provide an online newsletter under the same name that covers community and entertainment news. It started with 40 subscribers and now has over 2,000.

“It’s going really well, and we enjoy providing a voice for all things Peninsula. As for me, I’m combining my love of writing and experience in media sales and doing it all under one umbrella,” Susan said.

VA Peninsula Media plans to expand next month to cover city government and economic development.  

“It’s amazing we’ve been successful considering our launch was during a time when nobody was going out. We were emphasizing virtual events then, now our goal is to get people out and enjoying the community.”

Susan encourages college students today to consider journalism and communication as a career. “We need good writers who can check their bias at the door,” she said.

“TCC gave me the start that led to a fulfilling career and that’s something I’ve always been grateful for,” she added.

Susan and Scott reside on the Peninsula and have two college-aged daughters, Charlotte and Julia.

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. 29 – Dec. 17.

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

Each course will use low- to no-cost digital resources, so no 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 Communications
CST 141 Theatre Appreciation I
ECO 201 Principles of Macroeconomics
HIS 121 United States History II
LGL 200 Ethics for the Paralegal
MTH 154 Quantitative Reasoning
MTH 155 Statistical Reasoning

To search for mini-mester session classes, visit here. Be sure to select TCC and the dates in the filter section. You can also 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.