VGCC names 269 students to President’s and Dean’s Lists

Vance-Granville Community College has announced that 125 students earned President’s List and 144 students earned Dean’s List academic honors for the spring semester that ended in May.

The President’s List recognizes students who achieved a perfect 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) while carrying a “full load” (of at least 12 credit hours) in 100-level or higher curriculum courses. To qualify for the Dean’s List, a student had to earn a GPA that was at least 3.5 but less than 4.0, and have no grade lower than “B,” while carrying a “full load” of such courses.

Spring Semester President’s List honorees are listed below by program of study and then by residence.



Zachary T. Andrick of Henderson;

Jacob H. Daniel and Selene Govea Rostro, both of Oxford.


Associate Degree Nursing:

Madelaine L. Sachs of Henderson;

Renee Jackson of Kittrell;

Devan F. Wilkins of Louisburg;

Sandra H. Rose of Stem.


Associate in Arts:

Kaleb S. Williamson of Bullock;

William P. Unger of Butner;

Samantha J. Shannon and John M. Weeks, both of Creedmoor;

Ryan W. Sharp of Franklinton;

Cristin D. Abbott, Jennifer A. Burns and Kourtney J. Cockrell, all of Henderson;

Elizabeth D. Cole of Kittrell;

Marshella D. Ashby of Littleton;

Salwa S. Assaedi, Kristy R. Ball, Grisel Govea Rostro and Sydney A. Towers, all of Oxford;

Charles Braswell of Raleigh;

Abigail G. Hey of Stem;

Joshua L. Taylor of Warrenton;

Jasmine C. Blacknall of Winston-Salem;

Katrina Z. Hodges and David M. Restrepo, both of Youngsville.


Associate in General Education – General Science:

Ashley A. Oakley of Roxboro.


Associate in Science:

Jordan S. Ligon of Bullock;

Alegra A. Bass and Melinda W. Langston, both of Henderson;

Alexander T. Cockman and Emily C. Rogers, both of Louisburg;

Nicole F. Bowman and Francis C. Scotland, both of Oxford;

Karly R. Blue of Stem;

Kellyann M. Cook of Stovall;

Nehemiah S. Yisak of Wake Forest;

Nicholas J. Didonna III and Christopher R. Worner, both of Youngsville.


Automotive Systems Technology:

Kenneth S. McConnell of Henderson;

Robert L. Mallory of Oxford.


Business Administration:

Sara Reid of Creedmoor;

April F. Brogden, Sarah K. Moss, Meghan J. Rossi and Allyssabeth R. Trowbridge, all of Oxford;

Heather A. Henkel of Wake Forest;

Ashley M. Kinton of Youngsville.



Robyn Horner of Durham.


Computer Technology Integration – IT Support Track:

Quinton McDonald of Henderson.


Computer Technology Integration – Networking and Security Technologies Track:

Christina D. Manz of Creedmoor;

Andrew Hentze of Henderson;

Timothy A. Farley of Oxford.


Computer Technology Integration – Web Design and Support Track:

Angelica M. Garcia-Avelar of Durham;

Tabitha M. Jarman of Louisburg;

Rowan M. Morris of Warrenton.



Charlotte B. Slaughter of Butner;

Brittany D. Pickering of Durham;

Katrina W. Collie of Franklinton;

Sha’chrisa A. Williams of Hollister;

Kathryn L. Overby of Louisburg;

Kierra N. Richardson of Macon;

Myranda L. Carroll of Norlina;

Dar-Neshia S. Williams of Warrenton.


Criminal Justice Technology:

Tyler L. Hughes of Bullock;

Hunter C. Thompson of Creedmoor;

Justin R. Ali of Franklinton;

Benjamin B. Layton and Jamel Roy, both of Kittrell;

Chance S. Hayes of Louisburg;

Veronica M. Yount of Townsville;

Daysha M. Dawson of Youngsville.


Culinary Arts:

Emory L. Gant-Hawkins, Stacey H. Grissom, Harli R. Sams and Hayya A. Wright, all of Henderson;

Danielle N. Enright of Louisburg;

Dustin E. Gregory of Oxford;

Randy D. Bullock of Stem.


Early Childhood Education:

Battista S. Wilkins of Franklinton;

Mary A. Durand of Wake Forest.


Electrical Systems Technology:

Michael O. Smith, Jr., of Oxford;

Keith A. Tunstall of Warrenton.



Austin R. Lovegrove of Franklinton;

Sheila M. Alston of Louisburg.


Human Services Technology:

Victoria L. Currin and Robin L. Hill, both of Oxford.


Human Services Technology/Gerontology:

Cherie K. Jones of Creedmoor;

Larecia R. Bullock of Oxford.


Human Services Technology/Substance Abuse:

Joseph C. Brodie and Shurondia C. Williams, both of Henderson;

Kellie W. Taborn of Oxford.


Mechatronics Engineering Technology:

Charles J. Nordcliff of Creedmoor;

Thomas K. Boyd of Henderson.


Medical Assisting:

Adrienne M. Robertson of Henderson;

Samantha A. Patterson of Stem;

Denise N. Six of Wake Forest.


Medical Office Administration:

Tamara F. Glover, Raven K. Kay and April B. Peoples, all of Henderson;

Susan B. Smith of Kittrell;

Adrienne N. Adcock and Kristie L. Brough, both of Oxford;

Jenese N. Caldwell of Wake Forest;

Rebecca T. George of Warrenton.


Office Administration:

Mary A. Elberson of Henderson.


Paralegal Technology:

Heather L. Taylor of Franklinton;

Heather C. Bryant of Youngsville.


Pharmacy Technology:

Jordan R. Garrison of Henderson;

Lindsay C. Henry of Youngsville.



Mark J. Meinhart of Louisburg;

Kristel L. Dehart of Oxford;

Jamisha D. Twitty of Warrenton.


School-Age Education:

Andrea J. Hayes of Henderson.


Simulation and Game Development:

Brandon J. Carver of Durham;

Dustin L. Starnes of Henderson.


Welding Technology:

Nicholas Keeton of Bullock;

Joshua C. Pfohl of Franklinton;

Donnie S. Ayscue of Henderson;

Can Akyar, Ethan T. Bailey and Keodric D. Grant, all of Oxford;

Corey A. Di Lorenzo and Jared Q. Siemers, both of Wake Forest.


Spring Semester Dean’s List honorees are listed below by program of study and then by residence.



Dianna L. Deweese of Creedmoor;

Sarah J. Gabriel and Pamela D. Swanson, both of Franklinton;

Holly A. Waddell of Henderson;

Wannapha N. Robinson of Littleton;

Jennifer M. Burton of Norlina;

Starr Peace of Oxford;

Elizabeth D. Elliott of Youngsville.


Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology:

Frederik L. Gaube-Ogle of Stem.


Associate in Arts:

Farrah B. Foster and Don E. Sweet, Sr., both of Creedmoor;

Carlos A. Falcon of Durham;

Jared A. Akers, Courtney M. Brodie, Loren M. McCuiston, Robert D. Osborne and Richard K. Washington, all of Franklinton;

Cooper Antel, Nancy C. Bonilla, Brooklyn S. Davis, Alexis Hawthorne, Katelyn C. Kimbrell, Mary E. Oakley, Ashley J. Pendergrass, Ebony S. Robinson Solomon, Janet Rodriguez-Morales, Jakayla M. Thorpe and April Zuniga-Trejo, all of Henderson;

Taylor J. Abbott, Lillian D. Kanouff, Allison E. Long, McKenzie J. Taylor, all of Kittrell;

Jarrett J. Depizzol, Detra S. Hunt, Blake A. Massengill, Joshua W. Moody and Cassandra Saroza, all of Louisburg;

Amani M. Durden and Sierra S. Hawkins, both of Norlina;

Cecilia E. Barrenechea, Brenda Diaz-Salas, Haley N. Elliott, Emily H. Grissom, Marquida R. Harrington, Lydia A. Hendrick, Kemarie D. Jeffers, Ashley McEntee, Lane D. Phipps, Anna K. Thompson and Dylan E. Yacos, all of Oxford;

Keilah E. Alston and Jessica M. Shelton, both of Stem;

Grace E. Bowen, Andrew D. Lugg and Brianna H. Rigsbee, all of Wake Forest;

Hunter A. Carter and Stephanie Hommel, both of Youngsville.


Associate in General Education – General Science:

Kimberly M. Spence of Henderson;

Megan T. Whitman of Youngsville.


Associate in Science:

Daniel Cziraki of Creedmoor;

Christopher A. Plumley of Franklinton;

Kia S. Brodie and H’Kera P. Ktul, both of Louisburg;

Chelsee L. Mitchell of Macon;

Alana W. Towles of Oxford;

Micah C. Roberts of Stem;

Aaron W. Archambault of Wake Forest;

Henry M. Robinson of Youngsville;

Ayeley Akoto of Zebulon.


Automotive Systems Technology:

Jeremy D. Lemay of Henderson;

Luis G. Arroyo of Louisburg.


Business Administration:

Malinda M. Porter of Creedmoor;

Lois J. Daniels of Louisburg;

Justin T. Roberson of Norlina;

Temeka G. Marable and Broguen McKeown, both of Oxford.


Computer Technology Integration:

Bradley D. Harrison of Franklinton;

William T. Wesley of Oxford.


Computer Technology Integration – IT Support Track:

Tristin McClay of Creedmoor.


Computer Technology Integration – Networking and Security Technologies Track:

Mitchell L. Greene of Creedmoor;

Steven J. Lynch of Norlina;

Zachary T. Stevenson of Oxford.


Computer Technology Integration – Web Design & Support Track:

Amie E. Hilton of Oxford.



Cassie A. Shaffer of Butner;

Mia B. Harrison of Henderson;

Jennifer L. Creech, Areli R. Rayo Ramirez and Melissa D. Sweeney, all of Louisburg;

Kendall L. Barber of Norlina;

Jordan G. Reina of Roxboro;

Shannon W. Wood of Spring Hope;

Maria G. Ordonez Santiago and Sherika C. Powell, both of Warrenton.


Criminal Justice Technology:

Christopher L. Davis of Bullock;

Lindsay E. Brown, Jessica N. Duke, Dustin L. Hodnett and Harold T. Todd, all of Oxford.


Culinary Arts:

Jasmyne Schmitt of Bracey, Va.;

Tiffany M. Williams of Henderson;

Taylor M. Abel of Manson.


Early Childhood Education:

Anita M. Fuller of Franklinton;

Deanna McFarland of Rougemont;

Tonya H. Burrell of Youngsville.



Diaman R. Dismuke of Henderson.


Human Services Technology:

Betty S. Sampson of Butner;

April M. Carroll of Creedmoor;

Katie L. Floyd and Quiana J. Miller Fisher, both of Henderson;

Hannah B. Hill of Oxford.


Human Services Technology/Substance Abuse:

Angelique M. Taylor of Macon.


Medical Assisting:

Heather A. Harwood of Castalia;

Amanda J. Newton of Franklinton;

Ashley D. Kittrell of Kittrell;

Julius A. Glasper of Oxford;

Kayla L. Hutson of Stem;

Brittany L. Ray of Wake Forest;

Kelly N. Tharrington of Warrenton;

Dallas T. Glover of Youngsville.


Medical Office Administration:

Melanie Lugo-Nieves of Creedmoor;

David L. Norris of Erwin;

Misty R. Grabowski of Louisburg;

Tina M. Hatcher and Anthony M. Wade, both of Oxford;

Jessica R. Carroll of Timberlake;

Brittany L. Dillard of Warrenton.


Office Administration:

Matt S. Larch and Shanetta B. Wright, both of Henderson;

Helen Jordan of Wake Forest.


Paralegal Technology:

April M. Thompson of Henderson;

Kelly D. Persinger and Melody M. Williams, both of Louisburg;

Marilyn A. Swensen of Oxford.


Pharmacy Technology:

Ashley N. Hobgood of Norlina.



Anna P. Tilley of Creedmoor;

Sabrina D. Johnson of Louisburg;

James A. Lea of Roxboro;

Morgan H. Keith of Stem.


Simulation and Game Development:

Kenneth M. Watson of Henderson;

Austin H. Smith of Oxford.


Welding Technology:

Brandon T. Brown of Creedmoor;

Andrew S. Hamrick of Henderson;

Devin R. Barham of Louisburg;

Quentin T. Tully of Wake Forest.


–VGCC Press Release–

VGCC to offer second Enrollment Day on July 20

Vance-Granville Community College will hold the second “Enrollment Day” of the summer on Wednesday, July 20, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., at all four of its campuses. On Enrollment Day, VGCC counselors and other staff members will be ready to assist anyone who is interested in enrolling at the college for the Fall 2016 semester, which starts Monday, Aug. 15. No appointments are required.

For new students, the process of enrollment begins with an application for admission and an application for financial aid. Then, students must request their official high school transcripts, and in some cases, their transcripts from other colleges they have attended. Next, they should meet with an academic/career coach and schedule a placement test, unless it is waived. Finally, students complete an orientation session, either online or in the traditional face-to-face format. On Enrollment Day, incoming students will be able to accomplish all of these tasks or schedule them, so they can stay on track to start classes in August.

VGCC’s Main Campus is located on Poplar Creek Road in Vance County (about midway between Henderson and Oxford) at the intersection with Interstate 85 (Exit 209).

The Franklin County Campus is located just west of Louisburg on N.C. 56.

South Campus is on N.C. 56 between Creedmoor and Butner.

The Warren County Campus is located at 210 West Ridgeway Street (U.S. 158 Business) in Warrenton.

Registration for fall classes at VGCC is ongoing, through July 29. For more information, contact VGCC at or (252) 738-3330, or visit any campus.

Servants on Site Rebuild Hope in Henderson

Churches and families in Henderson send youth and adult mission teams to all parts of the U.S. and beyond, but last week 200 or so youth and adults poured into Henderson to work, serve and do mission work in this area on 14 different projects thanks to the efforts of Rebuilding Hope, Inc.  This local Christian, philanthropic organization is led by Randolph Wilson and many others.  Crossroads School in Henderson, Central Baptist Church and other local churches were instrumental in helping make the week’s work a success as well.

Robbie Parham with Rebuilding Hope told WIZS News the groups completed 99 percent of the 14 projects attempted, with 10 of them being in Vance County, three in Granville County and one in Warren County.  He said, “It is a real joy to see the teams that finished early go out and continue to work and help the other teams wrap up.”

Servants on Site (SOS) returned to Henderson for a sixth straight year, and they came here with the theme “Marked For God’s Purpose,” in reference to Ephesians 4:1 with the general meaning that with Christians there are marks of what it means to live a life worthy of the calling.

Part of a press release about the efforts said, “SOS is continuing itsRebuilding Hope SOS2016 (roofing2) mission as a tool for churches to mobilize, equip, and discipline students in an evangelistic effort to impact the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. … SOS is a 7-day summer mission project for youth (completed grade 6 through college) and adults to work on construction projects for homeowners in our community with immediate and limited resources. … Rebuilding Hope would again like to express its appreciation to everyone who has been involved with these uplifting summer mission projects over the last 5 years.  Together we have made an impact in our community by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only in word, but in actions.”

Fun, fellowship, praise and worship, and evangelism were enjoyed by all.  Parham said, “Our young missionaries will head home with a renewed prospective on what it means to be The Church that Christ has called us to be.”  He said, “They have replaced despair with hope and shown the true meaning of the gospel.”

Many roofing projects were completed as a part of the week’s work.

Parham said Rebuilding Hope has outgrown its present home, and the organization is trying to purchase the old Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on Raleigh Road.  He said, “(We) believe that increased visibility will bring more volunteers to reach more neighbors and re-purpose and old Henderson landmark into a Christian outreach.”

Rebuilding Hope is always looking for volunteers regardless of a person’s gifts.  Click the link above to learn more.

New VGCC Scholarship established in memory of Sam Watkins

A new scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College will honor the memory of longtime Vance County business and community leader Sam Watkins Jr.

His son, Trey Watkins of Wake Forest, recently visited VGCC to formally establish the “Sam Watkins Jr. Academic Achievement Scholarship” on behalf of himself and his wife, Sarah.

Sam Watkins, who died in 2014 at the age of 80, was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a U.S. Army veteran. For many years, he was the president of Rose Oil Company, a member and chairman of the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission, and a member of the Maria Parham Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Watkins co-founded the Henderson Downtown Development Corporation, from which the North Carolina Main Street Program evolved. In 2008, he and his twin brother, George, were the recipients of the Community Hero Award given by the Vance County Commissioners for making the community a better place in which to live. He was a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and, in 1985, he was Vance County’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year. He served on the local Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Citizens Bank and Trust Company Board, and chaired the local North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) Board in Henderson. In his later years, his proudest accomplishment was the forming of the Embassy Cultural Center Foundation, responsible for building a new public library and cultural center in Henderson. Watkins was also a beloved father and grandfather.

In awarding the new scholarship, preference will be given to students in the VGCC Nursing program. “We would like to support students with compassion, who show commitment and pride in their work in the health care field,” Trey Watkins said. “My father loved both the hospital and the college, so this would be a fitting tribute.”

Sam Watkins supported and partnered with the college in his economic development roles, and VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams remembered him with fondness. “Sam Watkins was a tireless leader and advocate for his community,” Dr. Williams said. “His legacy of service will continue through a scholarship that will help Vance-Granville students for generations to come.”

Just as Trey is establishing this scholarship in his father’s memory, Sam and George Watkins endowed the S.M. Watkins Sr. Memorial Academic Achievement Scholarship at VGCC to honor their father in 1991.

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,500 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.

US Foods supports VGCC Culinary Arts student in competition

US Foods, one of the nation’s leading food service distributors, is supporting a Vance-Granville Community College student in a nationwide culinary competition.

Renee Wilder, US Foods territory manager for the region that includes the college service area, recently presented contributions to the VGCC Endowment Fund to help send Dustin Gregory of Oxford, a student in the Culinary Arts program, to the Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky (June 20-24). There, Gregory will compete against college students from across the country. He qualified for the competition by winning the top prize at the state-level Skills USA conference in April.

VGCC faculty and staff held a “send-off” reception on June 16 in Gregory’s honor. He is the first student from VGCC to qualify for a national Skills USA competition. At the reception, VGCC Endowment Fund Director Eddie Ferguson recognized US vgcc-dustin-usfoodsFoods as the major supporter for Gregory, as well as other friends of the college who made donations to sponsor his trip to the conference.

Skills USA is a partnership of secondary and post-secondary students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Skills USA chapters help students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations excel. Among the benefits to VGCC students are opportunities to participate in competitions, which are designed by industry experts and showcase the nation’s top career and technical education students.

–VGCC press release–

Bear Hit By Car In The City Limits of Henderson

For the second time in as many months, a bear has been hit by a car in the Vance-Granville area, and the resulting injuries required that the bear be euthanized.  Unlike last time when the bear involved was hit on I-85 in Granville County, this time it happened in the city limits of Henderson.

Police Chief Marcus Barrow told WIZS News, “Last night about 9:30 or 10:00 o’clock, a bear was struck on Ruin Creek Road at 85 right there by Sheetz and the hospital.”

No one was injured, but the car involved sustained the same amount of damage you might expect from striking a deer.

“The bear was struck and enough damage was done (to the bear) that wildlife came and had to put the bear down,” Barrow said.

The thought was, and the chief agreed, that even though it was on the edge of the city limits, this is pretty close to town for a bear.  He said, “I wouldn’t have thought a bear would be that close to town, but there’s enough woods in that area I guess.”

It was a 115-to-120-pound bear that North Carolina Wildlife Officials believed, according to Barrow, was about a one-and-a-half year old male.

Barrow said, “I would have much rather we found the bear in the intersection and tranquilized him and took it back out somewhere.  It’s just unusual to have a bear in town.”

$450,000 Grant To Improve Health In Granville

Oxford N.C.  –  The Working on Wellness (WOW) Coalition has been awarded a $450,000 grant over three years from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Granville County.

The WOW Coalition of Granville County is one of five initial participants in The Duke Endowment’s new initiative, Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas. The program  takes a bold  approach to addressing chronic health issues such as unhealthy weight,  diabetes and heart disease.  Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas is kicking off in five diverse North  Carolina regions – Catawba, Chatham, Granville, Montgomery/Richmond and Wilkes counties – with  future plans to expand throughout the Carolinas.

The WOW Coalition represents a multi-disciplinary group of community organizations working collaboratively to understand and address community needs. The core team members of the coalition include representatives from Granville Vance Public Health, Granville Health System, Granville County Schools, Northern Piedmont Community Care, and Granville County Cooperative Extension.GHS WOW 061716

Currently, the WOW coalition is supporting the implementation of the highly effective and evidence-based CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program at Stovall-Shaw Elementary School. “CATCH had proven effectiveness in launching children, families, and their communities toward healthier lifestyles”, said Amy Rice, Principal at Stovall-Shaw Elementary School. Stovall-Shaw is a newly designated Health and Wellness magnet. Over the grant period, resources and assistance will be offered to additional schools to spread and expand on the lessons learned at Stovall-Shaw.

Research shows that North Carolina ranks 31st among states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, with two-thirds of residents considered overweight or obese.   Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being  are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.

“Where we live, where we go to school and work, how we spend our free time – even our ability to access fresh food and safely exercise near our homes – all contribute to our health and well-being,” said Bailey Goldman, WOW Coalition Coordinator and Lead Health Educator for Granville Vance Public Health.  Members of the WOW Coalition all agree that to truly improve health  within our community,  we have to expand  how we think about what affects our health.  lt’s more than just what we eat and how many calories we burn. It’s how our community and its economy impact our health.  By focusing on children and families in these initial efforts we will learn a lot about how to increase quality of life for all people.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from hospitals, health departments, community agencies, and other stakeholders in community well being.  The funding provided by The Duke Endowment will strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating health improvement efforts, so that they are well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.

“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Mary Piepenbring, vice president of The Duke Endowment.  “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, nor can they be solved by individuals and organizations   working alone.  We’re starting with communities that have considerable health needs, but also proven ability to take on local challenges.  They have a history of successful community-wide collaboration.”

Representatives from the five coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information  with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.

“The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique,” said Laura Edwards of Population Health  Improvement Partners, the North Carolina-based organization that will provide expert assistance to each local coalition.   “While there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas, each community will receive support to pave its own path forward.  The hope is that eventually the lessons of the five coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.”


Based in Charlotte,  N. C., and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits.  Since its founding, it has awarded more than $3 billion in grants.

(Press Release provided to WIZS News by Granville County Schools, and the Press Release was originally prepared by Granville Health System.)

Community College System’s top honor presented to former VGCC president

Dr. Ben F. Currin, the former president of Vance-Granville Community College, formally received the highest honor bestowed by the North Carolina Community College System, the I.E. Ready Award, at a recent ceremony.

Held on May 27 at the Brio restaurant in Raleigh, the luncheon marked a VGCC “family reunion” that brought together longtime college trustees, Endowment Fund Board members and senior administrators. Exactly half of VGCC’s six presidents were in attendance, including Dr. Currin; Robert A. Miller, who succeeded Currin; and Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the current president. Currin was joined by his wife, Betsy, herself a veteran educator and former vice president of Nash Community College.

Janet Lowder of Albemarle, N.C., the vice-chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, was on hand to officially present the award and medallion to Currin.

Named for Isaac Epps Ready, the first state director of the North Carolina Community College System, the prestigious award was created in 1983 to recognize individuals who have made significant, statewide contributions to the establishment, development or enhancement of the System. Previous winners of the I.E. Ready Award include former governors, former state legislators, former members of the State Board of Community Colleges, former Council of State members, former United States Senators, former college trustees, former college presidents and former System presidents.

Currin’s 40-year career in public education included serving as president of VGCC for 18 years starting in 1981. Under Currin’s leadership, VGCC grew from one campus to four, with a total of almost $18 million worth of new construction at all the campuses. Early in his tenure, VGCC also reactivated the college’s Endowment Fund, which grew from $12,000 in 1982 to $5 million at the time of his retirement and provided scholarships for numerous students. In retirement, Currin, who lives in Raleigh, continues to serve on the Endowment Fund Board of Directors.

Speaking at the ceremony, Currin said that VGCC’s service area was “the most gracious community I’ve ever lived in.” He recalled the generous support that the college received while he was president, sometimes quite unexpectedly. In 1998, retired librarian Nannie A. Crowder of Henderson and retired business executive Robert B. “Bob” Butler of Warrenton died on the same day, leaving more than $800,000 and more than $2 million, respectively, to VGCC. In Butler’s case, the bequest was a complete surprise, as he had no history of giving to the college and had not told college officials of his intentions. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Currin marveled, adding that he was equally impressed with all the other, smaller donations from citizens and businesses in the four-county area.

“It was just the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” he said of his VGCC tenure. “I’m so proud to have served and to have been part of the growth of the college. I’m very honored and thankful for being recognized.”

During the ceremony, several attendees made remarks honoring the former president’s leadership, including James Edwards, the current VGCC director of communications who was hired by Currin in 1989 as marketing director; Eddie Ferguson, the Endowment Fund director who is also Currin’s cousin; Robert Hubbard, who was recruited by Currin to serve on the Endowment board and is now its vice-chairman; Opie Frazier and Donald Seifert, both longtime VGCC trustees and Endowment board members; and Robert Miller, who served under Currin both in the Rocky Mount City Schools and as a VGCC official.

“He hired me for my first job out of college, 46 years ago,” Miller said. “I cannot think of any individual that would be more deserving of this award than Ben Currin. I not only appreciate what he’s done for me, but what he’s done for education and what he’s done for Vance-Granville Community College.”

Dr. Williams congratulated Currin and thanked him for his service to the college and to North Carolina. “When I became president of VGCC in 2012, one of the first people I called was Dr. Currin. He then took me to lunch, and we go to lunch every few months or so, but I have to say, this is my favorite lunch, because I’m so happy to share this moment with you,” Williams said to her predecessor. “You are such a deserving recipient of the I.E. Ready Award. You have left a great legacy at our college, and it is an honor to continue to move the college forward and build upon that foundation that you created.”

A native of Granville County and a graduate of Oxford High School, Currin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1959. He earned his master’s degree in education in 1962 and his advanced graduate certificate in professional education in 1963, both from UNC. He received his doctorate in education from UNC in 1970 in education administration with a minor in political science.

Currin assumed the VGCC presidency after having served as a teacher, coach and public school administrator, including 11 years as superintendent of Rocky Mount City Schools. While in Rocky Mount, he also taught graduate courses at East Carolina University as an adjunct professor.

VGCC student leaders graduate, continuing their education

Vance-Granville Community College recently celebrated the graduation of a number of outgoing leaders in its Student Government Association (SGA), sending many of them off to four-year universities, including Duke, East Carolina, N.C. State, N.C. Wesleyan, NCCU and UNC-Charlotte.

Among them is Lydia Hendrick of Oxford, SGA senator for the college’s South Campus, who graduated with both an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Science degree as a Granville Early College High School student. Hendrick accomplished that feat in four years rather than the typical five. She is now on her way to Duke University in the fall with her entire first year covered by the Washington Duke Scholars Program. “It is a relatively new program designed to support first-generation college students with demonstrated financial need,” Hendrick explained. “I am so grateful that I received this scholarship and the opportunities that come with it; without it, attending Duke University would just be a far off dream.” She called her VGCC degrees “the best foundation that I could ever have to build upon.”

Like Hendrick, SGA Secretary/Treasurer Isabelle Louise Snyder of Butner also graduated with both degrees through Granville Early College High School. Snyder, her high school valedictorian, is planning to continue her education at N.C. State University. Daniel Davis of Norlina, the SGA Parliamentarian, completed both degrees as a Warren Early College High School student and served as the college’s student speaker for commencement. He is headed to East Carolina University in the fall to study business, with future plans to go to law school. “Early College at VGCC gave me a smooth transition from high school to the college experience,” Davis said. “It made me responsible and gave me more confidence.”

His Warren Early College High School classmate, Shane O’Malley of Inez, the senate chair for Main Campus and Warren Campus, is transferring to N.C. State to major in animal science. Her goal is to become a veterinarian. “I definitely feel that my experience at Vance-Granville has prepared me well to take on a four-year university, because I’ve been taking college classes since I was a freshman in high school,” O’Malley said. She decided to go to VGCC through the Early College program “to get on my career path as fast as possible,” she said.

Another future member of the Wolfpack is SGA Vice President Cassandra Saroza of Louisburg, who was a Franklin County Early College High School student and graduated with an Associate in Arts. At NCSU, Saroza intends to double-major in biological sciences and psychology and minor in cognitive science. She will her start her four-year university experience with a study-abroad trip to Colombia in June and July, which will earn her a Sociology credit. She has received several scholarships from NCSU. Saroza praises her VGCC instructors, whom she called “passionate about the subjects they teach, and always willing to help you….Everyone at VGCC wants you to succeed.”

SGA President Aleria Perry of Henderson, Public Information Officer Keyanté Lindsey of Oxford, and Samantha Huffman of Durham, senator for South Campus, also each completed an Associate in Arts degree. Perry, a U.S. Army veteran, is planning to continue her education without having to leave VGCC’s campus through the new Eagle Voyage program at North Carolina Central University. The program will offer a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Perry would like to attend law school after completing that degree, and credits her VGCC graduation with giving her “a boost in self-esteem.”

Lindsey, meanwhile, is planning to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study physical therapy. At VGCC, he was a member of the Vanguards basketball team and performed in the recent dramatic production of “Deathtrap.” He and his fellow officers are proud of what they accomplished through SGA. “We made a big difference on campus,” Lindsey said, citing VGCC’s first-ever pep rally and talent show, for which he and O’Malley served as emcees. “We’ve gotten great feedback from events like that.” He said he would always appreciate the friendships he made at the college. “It’s like a big family here,” Lindsey said.

Angelique Taylor of Macon, assistant secretary/treasurer for SGA, graduated with a degree in Human Services Technology/Substance Abuse. She completed her degree while raising a child as a single mother. Now, Taylor will attend North Carolina Wesleyan College on a full scholarship. She plans to double-major in biomedical science and psychology, with ultimate plans to go to medical school and specialize in forensic pathology. “I want to be an example for single mothers to say if I can get through this while pregnant and raising a child, you can do it, too,” Taylor said. “So many single mothers think they have to wait until their child is older to go to college, but at Vance-Granville, there are people here to help.”

Dianna DeWeese of Creedmoor, senate chair for South Campus, completed degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. She is transferring to N.C. State University to continue studying the same subjects. N.C. State’s bachelor’s degree in accounting is consistently ranked as one of the top 35 undergraduate accounting programs in the country. DeWeese, who came to VGCC after being retired, is interested in forensic accounting. “I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree,” she said, excluding her husband, Jacob, who graduated from the VGCC Culinary Arts program last year. She encourages VGCC students “to take advantage of every opportunity that Vance-Granville gives you.” DeWeese served as a tutor, a student ambassador and president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She recalled that people she met as an ambassador later provided her with letters of recommendation.

One graduate, Emory Gant-Hawkins of Henderson, SGA senator for Main Campus, completed a Culinary Arts degree but is actually returning to VGCC in the fall to complete a degree in Business Administration.

“We are proud of how these graduates have developed their leadership skills and served their fellow students,” VGCC Vice President of Employee and Public Relations Stacey Carter-Coley. “They seized some unique opportunities that our college afforded them and have positioned themselves well for future professional and personal success. We are grateful for their contributions, which have set positive examples for Vanguard student leaders.”

Vance County Adopts FY 16-17 Budget

This afternoon — Thursday — at 5:00, the Vance County Board of Commissioners met for a budget session and adopted the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.  The budget will go into effect on July 1, and it passed by a vote of 5-0, with Archie Taylor abstaining and Leo Kelly absent.  Commissioner Deborah Brown, who made the motion, and Dan Brummitt, who seconded Brown’s motion, voted yes as did Tommy Hester, Terry Garrison and Chairman Gordon Wilder.

Brown’s motion was contingent on the budget including an additional, one-time $150,000 going to the Granville-Vance District Health Department, which is drastically underfunded at this time.  The $150,000 is in addition to the $50,000 that was already in the proposed budget.

Taylor said he was not in favor of doing the $150,000 at this time because the Health Department may get a grant in August.  Taylor said, “I am in favor of giving the money down the line if it’s needed.  I am not in favor of fronting this money, but we can review and give it in September if we need to.”

Garrison’s comment was difficult to hear in the meeting space word for word, but his statement seemed to indicate his understanding was the Health Department needed the money now regardless of the grant.

A variety of factors has the Health Department underfunded right now because of things like changes in state funding, additional requirements and demand for services.  Based on what was said in the meeting, even with the efforts of Vance County and additional efforts by Granville County leaders, the Health Department is spending into its fund balance at this time.

More than one commissioner said it was time to sit down with Granville County leaders and with Health Department leaders and get recommendations going forward and that the sit down needed to be soon.

The only other specific budget item mentioned in the session was about “Citizens Aligned To Take Back Henderson, NC’s” effort to tear down and remove dilapidated and abandoned houses jointly owned by the City and County.  The board did not increase the $25,000 amount in the proposed budget to the $83,000 which the advocacy group had requested at Monday night’s regularly scheduled commissioner meeting.

Chairman Wilder and other members of the board did say they were committed to the clean up effort and that monies could be appropriated after the initial $25,000 was used up.

Prior to the meeting, Wilder told WIZS News he had hoped the budget would be adopted at the session.  He specifically mentioned the Health Department funding as something that needed to be worked out.  He said, “That’s something that has been pretty much out of the public’s eye.  A pretty good chunk of money there that they were requesting and there were some issues that have come to light even as late as today.”

In regard to the Health Department, he said, “We are planning to do the right thing, but how much and when and that sort of thing is still up for some debate.”

In Wilder’s remarks to WIZS News this afternoon before the meeting, he said of the “Citizens Aligned” project, “We are all committed to completing that project, and one of the things I’d like to see us do is have a time line attached to it.  You know, first of the year or whatever the board decides, that we have the goal that we are committed to to get all our properties taken care of anyway.”

It seems that the plan right now is that Vance County is budgeting $25,000 to remove the jointly owned houses, and all indications are the City has $25,000 towards the cause as well.

Wilder said, “Now we know, without a doubt, that it’s going to take more than that, but we don’t know how much more.  We are waiting for some estimates, and we are going to ask the (County) staff to get us some estimates or some quotes rather, and we will come back and try to do the right thing there.”

When the initial money gives out, the County, and the City for that matter, can vote to give some more.  Wilder said, “We have some money in contingency, and we can also vote to take it out of fund balance.  Just because we don’t put it in the budget, doesn’t mean we are not going to do it.”

As to Vance County’s fund balance, Wilder said, “We are trying to keep and maintain and build our fund balance.  It’s not a bad fund balance, but at the same time it’s not dangerously low or foolishly high.  But we don’t have the fund balance of a Granville County or somebody like that.”