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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.

New “reverse transfer” agreement gives TCC students a new path to an associate degree

A new agreement between Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University provides students with a new path to an associate degree.

TCC students who transfer at least 45-credit hours to Old Dominion University are eligible for an exclusive opportunity to earn their associate degree at Old Dominion.

“We are thrilled to offer this new opportunity to TCC students who transfer before earning their degrees,” said Kellie Sorey, PhD, TCC’s associate vice president for Academic Affairs. “This reverse transfer agreement, signed last week, strengthens our relationship with ODU while helping students achieve their educational goals.”

This unique “reverse transfer” program is a first between TCC and ODU. Eligible TCC students admitted to ODU who opt-in to the program complete classes as Monarchs. The credits earned at ODU are then “transferred” back to TCC to complete the associate degree.

Interested students admitted to ODU can get started by completing this form. For more information, contact TCC’s Virtual Student Support Team at 757-822-1111.

Accelerated Degree student now has open door to VCU

Mekhi Moore planned to attend Virginia Commonwealth University right after high school.

When he didn’t get in, he had to come up with a new plan.

Moore, 19, started searching options on Tidewater Community College’s website and found the Accelerated Degree Program (ADP).

“Right away I saw this as a way to get to VCU as quickly as possible, so I signed up and never looked back,” he said.

Accelerated Degree student Mekhi Moore in the library on Norfolk Campus.

While most of us think of it taking at least two years to earn an associate degree, TCC’s accelerated option allows students to complete all of their credits in just one year.

For Moore, the doors to VCU are now open.

“I’ll be attending my dream school in the fall and living with my best friend in an apartment off-campus,” he said.

Moore will enter VCU as a junior and begin work on his bachelor’s degree in math. Additionally, he hopes to earn his teaching credential.

While at TCC, Moore says he made some great connections, even though all of his classes were online because of the pandemic.

“We worked closely as a cohort. We had classes together, studied together and helped each other,” he said. “While the program is rigorous, we had everything we needed to be successful.”

Moore graduates from TCC this summer with an Associate of Science in General Studies.

Mekhi Moore on Norfolk Campus.

He credits the college with giving him more than a degree. “I’m more confident. I also know how to manage my time and balance work and school,” Moore said.

Moore has a lot to say to high school juniors and seniors.

“Keep your options open and make smart decisions,” Moore said. “I’m leaving TCC with no student debt and a head start on college.”

Moore hopes to give back by becoming a high school math teacher. He wants to help guide students in those last years before adulthood.

“I still hold on to the life lessons from some of my best teachers and I want to do that for other kids,” he said.

 Moore added, “I’ll graduate from college at 21 and be teaching before most people earn their degrees. TCC’s accelerated degree made that possible.”

To learn more about the program and receive help applying to TCC, contact the college’s Virtual Student Support Team by emailing or calling 757-822-1111.

Go anywhere but first come to TCC’s open house on June 23

Find your future at Tidewater Community College.

Learn about the gamut of TCC’s programs, including cybersecurity, culinary arts, health sciences, maritime technologies and many other potential career paths and transfer opportunities the college offers.

Take the next step by visiting TCC’s open house on June 23 held on all campuses from 9 a.m. until noon.

There is plenty of time to enroll for fall classes, which begin Aug. 20.

All are invited, especially:

  • 2018 high school graduates and their families;
  • adults who want to start or finish a degree, learn a new field or advance in their careers;
  • active-duty military and veterans, their spouses and dependents.

You will be able to apply to TCC; learn about financial aid, grants and scholarships; explore academic options; tour campuses; and learn about campus life at all locations.

If you have an eye on a four-year college, TCC can help get you there, too. Transfer agreements allow a student to complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree at TCC and gain guaranteed admission to most Virginia colleges and universities.

Locations for open house are:

For more information, call 757-822-1111, email or visit

Generally speaking, you can’t beat this transfer degree

And the most popular associate degree at Tidewater Community College is . . .?

If you answered general studies, well done! TCC’s Associate of Science in General Studies makes the transfer process easy with all your credits applied to your four-year university of choice.

Students follow a flexible curriculum that allows them to be a junior in college upon completion.

Here’s why more than 5,000 students at TCC are pursuing the general studies associate:

The buzz on this degree

You design your schedule by taking classes in all of the major disciplines, including science, history, social sciences, mathematics and the humanities, giving you the broadest possible foundation for your future.

“I recommend the general studies degree because it can be customized to meet specific requirements of four-year schools. We can match class for class and make college transfer a really smooth process,” said Rhonda Goudy, the transfer counselor at the Chesapeake Campus. “We can also clean up errors if a student chose a wrong class before seeing an advisor.”

General Studies sounds so, well, general. Could it work for me?

 The broadness of the degree makes it an ideal option for bachelor’s degrees at universities requiring specific coursework or prerequisites. The associate can pave the way for work in any area from law to psychology to political science to mathematics and management.

Here’s what our students say:

Chidinma Owuama

Childinma Owuama

The Navy spouse selected general studies because it provides a seamless transfer to Old Dominion’s bachelor’s in nursing. “It’s very good to be able to pick the classes you need. It has been awesome, but not easy. With a lot of hard work, determination and commitment, you can get there.”

Owuama hopes to be a physician’s assistant.

Kayla Hood

Kyla Hood

“I came here so I could save money on college. I really like the flexible classes and enjoy going to the gym in the student center whenever I’m on campus.”

Hood plans to transfer to a university to study special education.

Vance Reynolds

Vance Reynolds
“I decided to take this route because universities are more expensive. I’m getting my general requirements out of the way before moving to Old Dominion to study cybersecurity.”

Reynolds plans a career in homeland security.

Salvador Fuentes-Calderon

Sal Fuentes-Calderon
“I chose general studies because I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school, and this seemed like a good way to get started. I’ve really enjoyed the variety of courses, from world religion to sociology to psychology. This degree introduced me to new concepts and experiences that I’m taking with me.”

Fuentes-Calderon plans to complete his bachelor’s at Old Dominion and apply to the Chesapeake Police Academy.

About the curriculum

You will complete 38 credits of general education, including English, math, science and history. You will fill in the degree with 21 hours of humanities, social science and other approved electives. Along the way, you will gain an education that builds communications and critical thinking skills and research, analysis and problem-solving skills. Complete the 61 credits in as little as four semesters or take classes part time.

In addition, you can take day, evening and online classes on any TCC campus, or you can complete the program 100 percent online.

Where can you go?

 As we often say, from here you can go anywhere. With the required GPA, you can take advantage of transfer agreements with nearly every public college and university in Virginia and many private colleges, including:

  • University of Virginia
  • James Madison University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Norfolk State University
  • Regent University
  • Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Liberty University

Bonus: First-time college students who meet GPA and other requirements may qualify for a two-year transfer grant of up to $1,000 applied toward tuition for their junior and senior years.

Questions?  Contact TCC’s New Student Support Team at 757-822-1111.