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Juneteenth Closure

TCC will be closed Wednesday, June 19, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

Veterinary Technology program head receives Batten fellowship for technology and leadership

Tidewater Community College Professor Megan Taliaferro, DVM, is the recipient of the 2021-2023 Batten Fellowship for Technological Innovation and Leadership.  A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Taliaferro is program head for the Veterinary Technology and Veterinary Assistant Programs at the college. 

The Batten Fellowship is funded by a 2005 gift to the TCC Educational Foundation from Frank Batten Sr. of Virginia Beach. This highly competitive award is the most prestigious technology-related award offered by the college. The fellowship is awarded to the faculty member who presents the most creative, compelling and potentially beneficial project involving technology to improve learning.

Dr. Taliaferro teaches students how to intubate a dog.

“I’m extremely proud of the work Professor Taliaferro put into developing this innovative project,” said Dr. Michelle Woodhouse, vice president of Academics and chief academic officer. “Megan’s dedicated efforts will ensure students succeed even when they face barriers to learning.”

Taliaferro proposes to modify a classroom and laboratory space to support a blended style of learning that meets the scheduling and logistical needs of working students enrolled in TCC’s Veterinary Technology programs. The classroom will be configured as a flexible space where she can engage students in the classroom and on Zoom simultaneously, providing tablets to in-person students so they can actively interact with remote students in group activities.

The proposal also sets up the laboratory space to support self-paced labs available to students when they can be on campus. Additionally, the lab will allow students to practice a particular skill until it is mastered and will also provide multiple clinical skill stations and tablets preloaded with instructional videos to support this activity.

The lab stations will also contain a veterinary virtual simulation model and all needed supplies to practice until proficiency is acquired. The room will remain locked, and students will use their student ID to enter. Instructors will be able to access door key information to verify required student attendance.

This blended learning model will apply to other disciplines that require hands-on training and lab exercises such as biology, chemistry, physics and the health professions. The outcome of this blended learning model is to increase student retention and graduation rates when other student life issues cause barriers to academic persistence.

“I love working with all of the clients and animals. It really is the best job”

Jane Gray has had plenty of jobs from managing a Wendy’s to working as a dog groomer.

Today, thanks to Tidewater Community College’s Veterinary Technology program, she has a career she enjoys.

“This is where I belong,” said Gray. “I tried a distance learning vet tech program, and it didn’t work for me, but I knew I was drawn to this work.”

TCC’s Vet Tech program launched in 2018 and is the only program of its kind in Hampton Roads.

Gray is in the second cohort, which started in fall of 2019. She will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology this summer.

“One of the best things about the program is that we are all in this together,” said Gray of her classmates. “We are all on a group text and we lean on each other often.”

Gray recently received a scholarship from the Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians. She is the only student in Virginia who earned this award for 2021.

Gray is already at work in the field as a supervised assistant vet tech at a Chesapeake animal hospital.

“The work I do now I can only do because of my degree program,” Gray said.

Gray started as a receptionist and is now in the back using the skills she is learning in school on the job. She does everything from assessing animals to monitoring anesthesia to placing catheters to administering drugs and IV fluids.

An animal enthusiast, Gray found her passion for the field when her own dog got sick. “My dog Socks had heartworms and I almost lost her. A year later she got a serious infection, and it was scary. It was then that I decided I wanted to be there for other families to help educate them on conditions and treatments.”

“Our pets can’t talk, so it’s important that families are fully involved in their care,” Gray added. “I love working with all of the clients and animals. It really is the best job.”

Gray’s journey to an associate degree has been challenging due to a learning disability that affects her reading comprehension. “When we went online because of the pandemic, it was really tough for me,” Gray explained. “But my instructors and classmates rallied around me and were there whenever I had questions. The college also offered some accommodations that were really helpful.”

When Gray is not at school or work, she is still surrounded by animals on her five-acre farm in Chesapeake. She and her two children care for seven horses, a donkey, some chickens, two pot-bellied pigs, a hog and five dogs.

Gray with her horse Tucker at the farm in Chesapeake.

Gray says she learned a lot from her favorite TCC instructor Megan Taliaferro who is the program head, a licensed veterinarian, and an avid horse enthusiast.

“We both love horses and talk about them often. What could be better than that!”

TCC celebrates inaugural class of Veterinary Technology graduates with pinning ceremony

Landry Bernard weathered a three-hour roundtrip twice weekly to attend Tidewater Community College. Jessica Littlefield had a similar haul — an hour each way from Carrsville to Virginia Beach.

The classmates are part of TCC’s inaugural group of graduates from the Veterinary Technology program that launched two years ago. The only program in Hampton Roads and the first new one in the state in four decades provides instruction in the behavior, care and treatment of animals. Graduates earn a 63-credit Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

The 20 pioneer graduates will be recognized at a pinning ceremony on Saturday at the Virginia Beach Campus. The ceremony will be streamed on TCC’s YouTube channel at 3 p.m.

“This pinning ceremony is the culmination of years of planning and hard work by the TCC administration, the local veterinary community and veterinary faculty, and obviously the students who worked so hard to complete the program requirements,” said Megan Taliaferro, program director. “I’m incredibly proud of the students for this personal and professional achievement and look forward to the great things they will do in the Hampton Roads veterinary community.” 

Bernard and Littlefield grew up figuring to be veterinarians one day given their passion for animals big and small. In addition to several dogs and a cat, Bernard dotes on her chinchilla, Scabbers (named for Ron Weasley’s rat in the “Harry Potter” series) and ferret, Alexei (after the Russian doctor in “Stranger Things”). Both are rescues.

“I love exotic animals,” said Bernard, who particularly enjoyed the lab on exotics that Taliaferro arranged for the class. “I’m drawn to anything funky and quirky.”

Landry Bernard during an exotics lab.

Littlefield’s lot includes four dogs, a cat and a thoroughbred, Hamilton, that she enjoys showing.

“Ever since I was little, I loved dogs and I had a dog growing up. He made me fall in love with them,” she said. When I was 8, my neighbors gave me my first pony.”

Littlefield, 27, holds a bachelor’s in biology from Longwood University and actually applied to vet school twice only to get waitlisted. Ultimately, like Bernard, she decided she was better suited to be a veterinary technician.

Vet technicians are largely hands-on, and unlike vet school, tuition for the program is not in six figures.

“I don’t come from a lot of money,” Bernard said. “My guidance counselor told me that TCC was starting a program, and I thought I’d be a good fit.”

Even if that meant driving 90 minutes one way from her hometown, Nandua. With Pandora as her company, Bernard, 20, learned to embrace the commute listening to “my own concert in the car.”

The research component of veterinary technology fascinates Littlefield. “Having the license and program under your belt can open a lot of doors,” she said.

She developed a particular affinity for Chinese medicine and acupuncture. “I would love to explore the more natural side of things,” she said.

 Both found camaraderie among their classmates at TCC.

“I really loved it,” Bernard said. “Everyone was super helpful. In a two-year program, you have to work fast and work together to learn what you need to learn. The professors were always willing to have a meeting, even if it wasn’t during a time during school.”

“It was very hands-on,” Littlefield said. “There were several different labs where we put ourselves in real situations. It was fast paced, but we definitely learned a lot more in that program than we would have in any other program.”

Littlefield passed the credentialing exam and awaits her license in the mail. She will continue to work at Bay Beach Veterinary Hospital.

Bernard, who works at Atlantic Animal Hospital in Accomac, will take her exam in November.

Saturday’s pinning marks a milestone for both.

“It signifies all the hard work and all the stuff we’ve worked through,” Bernard said. “I used to be more of a nervous person, and this made my confidence grow. Even people I work with have remarked that they’ve seen my confidence grow. The pinning signifies that growth.”

“It represents all of our accomplishments,” Littlefield said. We’ve completed the entire program all together, and we’re going to finish it together.”

Animal lover found the veterinary career he wanted minus the student debt

Dylan Wilson considered a career in meteorology and then firefighting before he settled on veterinary medicine.

The Kempsville High School graduate was on track after graduating from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s in biology. After working at Midway Veterinary Hospital, two realities became clear.

  • Vet school carries a huge price tag. On average, graduates repay what can be more than $200,000 in debt over 20-25 years.
  • He didn’t want to incur that kind of expense.

So Wilson explored another direction that turned out to be a better fit — training to be a  licensed veterinary technician.

“Vet techs are the people who do the work,” he said. “That’s hands-on — the part of the job that really appealed to me.”

Even better — he could go to school in his own backyard. Tidewater Community College launched its veterinary technology associate degree two years ago — only the third program in the Commonwealth and the lone one in Hampton Roads.

Wilson will complete all requirements for the 63-credit Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology this month. He will sit for the national exam in December.

“I have absolutely loved the passion from the teachers at TCC,” said the ferret lover who owns a 10-year-old Dalmatian, Harley.  “It has not always been my experience that teachers really care about my success and will do anything to ensure my success. I have zero doubt that this is true about the professors at TCC.”

Dylan and his dog, Harley

The TCC veterinary technology program, under the direction of Megan Taliaferro, included on-site labs this summer, working with sheep, cows and exotics. That’s how Wilson discovered an affinity for dentistry.

“As a tech, performing dentistry and taking radiographs is challenging, but I’ve found I really enjoy pharmacology,” he said. “It speaks to the biology person in me.”

TCC will graduate 20 from its inaugural cohort of veterinary technology students. Graduates are prepared to work in a multitude of settings, including animal and equine practices; biomedical research facilities; pharmaceutical companies; zoos; and specialty and emergency practices.

“It’s not like any kind of school I’ve ever done before,” Wilson said. “Everything you learn early on will be important later. It really builds on each other, and all of it is very important. You really learn it and keep building rather than learning to just pump it out.”

Interested in TCC’s veterinary assistant career studies certificate or its veterinary technology program? Contact Taliaferro at mtaliaferro@tcc.edu for admission requirements.

TCC’s Veterinary Technology program earns initial accreditation

Tidewater Community College’s Veterinary Technology program has earned initial accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

This is the first new accreditation of an associate degree program in the state of Virginia since 1980. Initial accreditation gives the TCC program all the benefits of full accreditation.

TCC launched its veterinary technology program, which allows students to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology, in fall 2018. The inaugural cohort will complete all program requirements by August.

The TCC program is one of three in the state and the only one in Hampton Roads. Students receive hands-on training with all species in addition to classroom instruction on the Virginia Beach Campus.

“This is a milestone for our program,” said program head Megan Taliaferro. “By achieving accreditation, our students and the veterinary practices that will ultimately employ them know that the TCC program meets the highest standards in veterinary education.”

The need for veterinary technicians is anticipated to grow by 60 percent in TCC’s service region in the next decade, according to EMSI, an economic indicator for higher education.

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in diagnosing and treating animals. Their duties include working with veterinarians during examinations and surgeries, conducting routine procedures, such as immunizations and dental cleanings, and educating pet owners about the health care of animals.

Graduates are prepared for employment in a multitude of settings, ranging from animal, equine and food animal practices; biomedical research facilities; pharmaceutical companies; zoos; and specialty and emergency practices.

The program is geared toward those with some experience in the veterinary field. Those who haven’t worked in a professional setting can gain experience by completing TCC’s 17-credit Career Studies Certificate in Veterinary Assistant.

Visit tcc.edu/vettech for admission requirements and an application. The application deadline for the cohort that will begin this fall has been extended to June 15.

Contact Taliaferro for more information at mtaliaferro@tcc.edu or 757-822-7264.