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News Release

John Tyler Community College Students Meet with State Legislators

Primary Media Contact:
Holly Walker
Public Relations Manager

Secondary Media Contact:
Heather Busch
Creative Services Manager

Released on February 24, 2011

News Release Highlights

  • Six John Tyler Community College students meet with six state legislators
  • Students talk about their experiences at John Tyler and their future plans
  • Discuss need for continued support as JTCC’s enrollment soars

Student Delegation Photo

(From left to right): Tyriek Bayne, Regina Smith, Teresa Swinson, Del. Kirk Cox, Dustin East, Bill Phillips, Taylor Branch

Student Delegation Photo

(From left to right) Dustin East, Dr. Marshall W. Smith, Taylor Branch, Sen. John Watkins, Teresa Swinson, Tyriek Bayne, Regina Smith, Bill Phillips

CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – After working for 12 years in the semiconductor business, Teresa Swinson lost her job when the company she worked for closed down. She decided she needed to add additional skills to her resume, so she turned to John Tyler Community College. She graduated in December with a technical studies degree and has recently secured a new job. Tyriek Bayne was not sure what he wanted to study in college, so he opted to come to John Tyler first. Bayne said that decision not only saved him money, it also helped him decide to study engineering. According to Dustin East, a lack of motivation in high school held him back, but John Tyler Community College helped turn that around. He just completed his arts and sciences degree and now is applying to ivy league schools with plans to study mathematics. These are just some of the stories John Tyler students shared when they met with state legislators on February 16, 2011. The students, led by John Tyler Community College President Marshall W. Smith, met with Del. Kirk Cox, Del. Rosalyn Dance, Sen. Stephen Martin, Sen. Donald McEachin, Del. Roxann Robinson and Sen. John Watkins.

During the meetings, the student delegation also discussed John Tyler Community College’s role in the community, its caring faculty and staff, its diverse program offerings and flexible scheduling options, and its affordable tuition. They also spoke about the College’s ongoing enrollment growth. Over a four-year period, from 2006–2009, John Tyler Community College saw a 43 percent increase in the number of FTES (full-time equivalent students). In fall 2010, John Tyler was the fastest growing College in the VCCS in FTES (11.8%) and second fastest in headcount (8.5%). The students asked the legislators to continue supporting the efforts of Virginia’s community colleges, so that the more and more people in Virginia will have the opportunity to earn degrees.

Hear from the College’s 2011 student delegation, and see what they experienced. Visit www.jtcc.edu/advocacy to watch a video about their trips to the State Capitol and to watch a video in which they discuss their views on John Tyler Community College.

The February 16 student participants included (zip codes appear in parenthesis):

Tyriek Bayne (23860)
Tyriek Bayne wants to know how things work. It’s that curious nature and his love of science that led him to pursue a degree in engineering from John Tyler. It also landed him a spot in the coveted National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. Last October, Tyriek was one of only 89 community college students in the country to be selected for the program, which sends students to NASA facilities to learn about careers in science and technology. Tyriek says he is definitely intrigued by the idea of exploring space, but he still has not settled on the type of engineer that he’d like to become. He hopes his classes at John Tyler will help him figure that out. “The teachers here really guide you and encourage you, and they give you advice from their own experience.” After graduating from Tyler, Tyriek plans to transfer to a four-year university to work on his bachelor’s degree.

Taylor Branch (23235)
Taylor Branch has a plan. He plans to complete a general studies degree at John Tyler and then transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University to study to become a dental hygienist. His strategy is well-formed, but it took him a while to come up with it. That’s why he says he turned to John Tyler Community College. “John Tyler gives you the chance to explore,” says Taylor, who in the past also considered going into teaching or law enforcement. Taylor says in addition to great program choices, Tyler offers him lower tuition, great teachers, and lots of scheduling options.

Dustin East (23838)
Dustin East says he’s been on a journey of self discovery. It’s a journey that kept bringing him back to John Tyler, where in December 2010, he earned his degree in arts and sciences. Dustin says he left high school with a low GPA and started at John Tyler as a self-described “unmotivated student.” After a year at the College, Dustin left. He returned after several years, taking some evening classes while working a full-time job. It wasn’t until a few more years had passed that Dustin decided it was time to commit to his education. “After several years of experiencing ‘real life’ without a degree, I decided to come back to Tyler one last time, focused and determined.” For Dustin, the third time has proven to be the proverbial charm. He became president of the College’s Beta Omicron Omicron chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and earned his associates in arts and sciences. Now, this very motivated student is applying to Columbia University, Harvey Mudd College and Tulane University in the hopes of earning a degree in mathematics.

Bill Phillips (23114)
Unexpected changes happen. That’s something Bill Phillips knows too well. After 12 years of employment, Bill found himself without a job when the company he worked for closed down. He immediately began searching for a new job. But, even with a strong resume that included 12 years in the Marines, both on active duty and in the reserves, and skills in life safety, emergency coordination and incident command, Bill was unable to find work in the Richmond area. At that point, he realized it was time to return to college, and with support of the Trade Act, he chose to enroll in John Tyler Community College. Bill says the College’s small class size, proximity to his home, course offerings and resources made it a good fit for him. He is now working toward a degree in police science. He also wants to earn certificates in administration of justice and homeland security. He says the state of the job market will determine whether he will pursue a bachelor’s degree after graduating from John Tyler in May 2012. He says, ideally, he’ll find a new job working in life safety and emergency coordination.

Regina Smith (23831)
Regina Smith says she’s “bound and determined to get her degree from John Tyler.” Her journey toward that degree actually began in 1996, but it was put on hold while she took time out to raise her family. Twelve years later she returned to John Tyler, as determined as ever to complete her business management degree. But, she doesn’t plan to stop there. Regina says once she earns this degree, she’s going to begin working on a degree that will help her build her technology skills. Being self-employed, Regina believes you must keep learning to stay out front in an ever-changing world. That’s just one of the reasons she likes John Tyler. She also likes the College’s dedication to its community, its efforts to help its students develop leadership skills, and its commitment to academic excellence.

Teresa Swinson (23231)
Teresa Swinson is celebrating. After being out of work for two years, she is getting ready to start a new job. Teresa was one of thousands laid off from Qimonda, and after spending 12 years in the semiconductor business, Teresa suddenly found herself facing an uncertain future. With so many people scrambling for so few jobs, Teresa decided she needed more education and new skills to enhance her resume and her chances of finding employment. After researching her options, Teresa chose John Tyler and its technical studies program. She says she liked that the College offered wide-ranging curriculums designed to meet labor market demands. She also points to the College’s smaller class sizes, caring faculty and staff, and variety of teaching approaches as reasons why students succeed at Tyler. Teresa, who graduated in December 2010 with a technical studies, electricity specialization degree, says the College not only gave her a degree, it gave her the confidence she needed to go out and land her new job.

John Tyler Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education and is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. With campuses in Chester and Midlothian and off-campus classrooms throughout the area, John Tyler offers quality and economical opportunities for students who want to earn a degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year college or university, train for the workforce, or switch careers. The College, which served more than 13,690 students during the 2009 – 10 academic year, offers 17 associate degrees, seven certificates and 35 career studies certificates. The institution also serves 20,000 non-credit students and more than 1,000 companies and government agencies annually through the Community College Workforce Alliance. The College also is committed to sustainability. In July 2010, it received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for its Midlothian Campus Science Building, becoming the first in the Virginia Community College System to receive such recognition. John Tyler Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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