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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 09, 2011

News Release Highlights

  • Seven John Tyler Community College students meet with state legislators
  • Discuss their personal experiences and support for John Tyler and other community colleges
  • Talk about the College’s continued enrollment growth

Student Delegation Photo

(From left to right) Seth Baldwin, Dustin East, Ashley White, Sharnese Johnson-Reeves, Del. Betsy Carr, Allison Atkins, Shana Morris, Regina Smith

Student Delegation Photo

(From left to right) Ashley White, Allison Atkins, Sharnese Johnson-Reeves, Shana Morris, Del. Lee Ware, Seth Baldwin, Regina Smith, Dustin East

CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – After losing her job in the mortgage industry, Shana Morris moved back to Virginia to attend John Tyler Community College. Now, she’s less than a year away from becoming a registered nurse. Seth Baldwin likes politics, law and history, but he is not quite sure which he wants to pursue. So, he decided to explore his options and save money by coming to John Tyler for his first two years of college. After taking time off to raise her family, Regina Smith, who is also self-employed, is back at John Tyler, working on a degree that she says will help her business. These are just some of the stories John Tyler students shared when they met with state legislators on February 3, 2011. The students, accompanied by staff from the College, met with Del. Betsy Carr, Del. Riley Ingram, Del. Manoli Loupassi, Del. Joseph Morrissey, Del. Roslyn Tyler and Del. Lee Ware.

In addition to sharing their personal stories, the student delegation discussed what John Tyler Community College has meant to them and the community. They highlighted the College’s affordable tuition, financial aid assistance, excellent faculty and staff, and diverse programs of study. They also spoke about the College’s ongoing enrollment growth. Over a four-year period, from 2006–2009, the number of students attending John Tyler Community College during the fall semester increased 35 percent. The same time period 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.

Before heading to the State Capitol, members of the College’s 2011 student delegation discussed their views on John Tyler and Virginia’s community colleges. Watch their video at www.jtcc.edu/advocacy.

The February 3 student participants included (zip codes appear in parenthesis):

Allison Atkins (23236)
Allison Atkins likes numbers. She also likes to make people smile – whether it’s by sporting a fun hat, flashing a grin, or saying a few kind words. But, when she talks about her education, Allison is all business. She says without John Tyler, she’s not sure she would have been able to afford to go to college and pursue her dream of becoming a CPA. She says the welcoming atmosphere at the College, the great classes and the guidance offered to her by the faculty and staff have made her time at John Tyler a great experience. But, this is just the beginning for Allison. Once she graduates with her business administration degree from Tyler, Allison wants to go to Virginia Commonwealth University to earn a degree in accounting and to minor in human resources – possibly earning a second minor in Spanish. She then hopes to start her own company or go to work for a Fortune 500 company.

Seth Baldwin (23139)
Law, politics, history – all are areas of interest for Seth Baldwin. Because he is still trying to determine exactly which direction he wants to go in, Seth decided to start his college education at John Tyler. He says the College gives him a way to explore his favorite subjects without forcing him to take on huge student loans. Seth, who was homeschooled up until his last two years of high school, says John Tyler also has been a great place to begin his journey into higher education. It’s a journey he hopes will eventually take him to Regent University or Virginia Commonwealth University.

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.

Sharnese Johnson-Reeves (23223)
When you meet Sharnese Johnson-Reeves, you can’t help but smile. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she talks about becoming a nurse, helping others and inspiring her kids to pursue their dreams. Sharnese’s decision to study nursing came about after she started on a different journey. Sharnese worked in retail for a number of years after earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing. But, then fate intervened. The store she worked for went out of business. Sharnese says she knew that was her cue to make a new start. She had long thought about becoming a nurse and had heard about John Tyler Community College’s program. So, she says when her store closed, she jumped in the car and headed to John Tyler. A year later, after finishing her prerequisite classes, she was accepted into the nursing program. With graduation on the horizon, Sharnese is looking at life after Tyler. She says she will continue studying with the medial surgical unit at a local hospital and wants to get certified in forensic nursing. She says as a forensic nurse, working in an emergency department, she’ll be able to help identify and aid the victims of abuse – something she feels is an extremely important responsibility.

Shana Morris (23139)
Shana Morris knows what it’s like to have to start over. Shana was working in Maryland in the mortgage industry when the economy turned upside down. Left without a job, Shana decided it was time to make a change – a big one. She left the world of finance, moved back home to Powhatan, and took some time to consider what she really wanted to do with her life. She says that’s when she realized that she really wanted a career that gives her the chance to care for people. So, she chose to explore the field of nursing. Shana says the outstanding reputation of John Tyler Community College’s nursing program prompted her to get started. Shana says the College also offered her a number of helpful online resources, a great library, and wonderful and caring faculty and staff. Set to graduate in December of this year, Shana says her next step is to work on her bachelor’s degree in nursing and then a master’s degree. She then hopes to get a job working in the maternal/newborn department or the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital.

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.

Ashley White (23234)
Ashley White proves that a person’s life does not have to be defined by the past. When Ashley was in middle school, difficulties at home prompted her to drop out of school. Several years passed before Ashley had a revelation – that she needed an education. She decided to pursue a GED and then looked into the possibility of college. That’s when she found John Tyler. “The thought of returning to a higher level of education was rather terrifying to me,” says Ashley, but that terror quickly faded as she discovered that John Tyler was a place that understood her individual needs. “JTCC has given me a transitional arena with plenty of assistance and caring faculty and staff to develop the skills necessary to prosper.” Ashley is now the president of the College’s Tau Rho chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. She is currently working on her general studies degree and plans to transfer to a four-year college or university so that she can pursue a career in psychology and help those who’ve experienced situations similar to her own.

This is just the first trip to the State Capitol for the College’s student delegation. On February 16, 2011, students will meet with some of the other legislators who represent the College’s service region.

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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Holly Walker, Public Relations Manager


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