VGCC is Workforce Development, Community Engagement, Entrepreneurship Haven

With the stroke of a pen, Vance-Granville Community College President Dr. Rachel Demarais joined more than 200 of her colleagues across the country to show support of entrepreneurship.

Demarais was joined by Tanya Weary, dean of South Campus and Dr. Jerry Edmonds, vice president of Workforce Development and Community Engagement on Tuesday, Feb. 23 for the virtual signing of the “Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge,” which took place at the community book read and discussion for Who Owns the Ice House: Eight Life Lessons from an Unlikely Entrepreneur.

The pledge outlines five action steps to increase focus on entrepreneurship and the impact community colleges have on the economic well-being of the communities they serve, according to information from the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

In signing the pledge, more than 200 community colleges across the country are making a commitment to play a greater role in stimulating economic development in their communities. “An entrepreneurial mindset is critical to solving today’s challenges for tomorrow,” Demarais said.

“As a lead workforce developer in our region, it is imperative that VGCC support economic development through both skills and entrepreneurial training,” she added. Programs offered through the VGCC Small Business Center as well as incorporating entrepreneurial thinking in the school’s trades programs contribute to promoting the idea of entrepreneurism, she said.

According to NACCE President and CEO Rebecca Corbin, the pledge is a way for community colleges to advance entrepreneurship and create jobs across the country. Community college presidents who take the pledge commit to these five action steps:

  • Develop transparency of community college and community assets
  • Create internal and external teams dedicated to entrepreneurship
  • Increase entrepreneurs’ engagement in community colleges
  • Engage in industry cluster development
  • Create broad exposure to their college’s commitment to entrepreneurship.

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is the nation’s leading organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship through community colleges. The association represents more than 300 community and technical colleges who serve more than three million students. For more information, visit Follow NACCE on Twitter at @NACCE and like NACCE on Facebook at National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship.

Wheeler honored for leadership at VGCC

Cecilia Wheeler, the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Vance-Granville Community College, recently received the President’s Excellence in Leadership Award, presented by the college president, Dr. Rachel Desmarais.

This honor is one of VGCC’s three Glen Raven Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Awards. Glen Raven, Inc., the custom fabrics manufacturer with a facility in Warren County, is a longtime partner and supporter of the college. In addition to sponsoring annual stipends to recognize excellence among VGCC instructors and staff members, Glen Raven has endowed several scholarships for students.

“Dean Wheeler is an exceptional leader for our School of Arts and Sciences, the largest division within credit instruction at VGCC,” Dr. Desmarais said. “She brings a flexible strength to her leadership position. She is known as a ‘problem-solver’ to students and a project leader to her colleagues. Dean Wheeler exemplifies bridge-building, truth-telling, dedication to the College mission, and true humility.”

A resident of Oxford, Wheeler has worked at VGCC for more than 30 years. She joined the college as assistant coordinator for VGCC’s South Campus in Granville County in 1989. In later years, she served as leader for that campus, as, progressively, its coordinator, director and dean. In 2018, Wheeler assumed her current role, in which she leads more than 40 full-time and adjunct faculty members in eight curriculum programs, offered on all four of VGCC’s campuses. For many years, she was an adjunct instructor herself, teaching courses such as American History and Southern Culture.

Wheeler holds a master’s degree in History from Appalachian State University and a bachelor’s degree in History from Mars Hill College. She is also a graduate of the N.C. Community College System Leadership Institute, conducted at N.C. State University.

Wheeler is also the current president of the Granville County Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this award,” Wheeler said. “I am very fortunate to work with very talented and dedicated faculty, staff and colleagues to help our students achieve their dreams and our communities to grow.”

VGCC Press Release

Vance-Granville Community College continues to “cultivate” new Agri-Tech program

— press release

Vance-Granville Community College continues to “cultivate” new programs for the Spring semester.  The Sustainable Agri-Tech program will grow one’s knowledge in the agricultural field and prepare students for occupations in a wide variety of jobs in agriculture (both production and value-added) with a range of skills and knowledge.

The program addresses agricultural concepts, skills, and techniques that are required by the agriculture industry. Upon completion, students would have explored sustainable and organic methods, plant, soil and animal science, field management, equipment maintenance and basic computer skills and marketing techniques.

Class begins on February 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM.  Kelly Dixon will be leading this hybrid class at our Warren Campus.  The 96-hour program is made up of only 30 hours in the classroom and 66 hours online.  Cost is $188.25.  Tuition assistance is available to those who meet eligibility guidelines.  Space is limited.

For more information, please visit our webpage:

(This is not sponsored content.)

VGCC Graduates Second Class from Truck Driver Training Program, Prepares for a Third

Vance-Granville Community College recently celebrated the graduation of the second class in the short history of its Truck Driver Training, or CDL, program.

The program includes a combination of classroom instruction, range driving and road driving. With the end of training, students have successfully completed their DOT exams, making them eligible for their “Class A” Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL-A) and fully employable as truck drivers.

Students in the second graduating class of the VGCC CDL program pose on the college campus.

Kyle Burwell, Director of Occupational Extension for VGCC, said that college officials were “thrilled” to see the 15-member second class of students complete the program. “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to keep our enrollment numbers at a minimum, but even with pandemic delays, we still had 15 successful students,” Burwell said. “We continue to appreciate all of the efforts of our lead partner school, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, which provides the DOT examiner-certified instructors for the program.  To date, we have a 100% pass rate with our Truck Driver Training Program.”

One of the recent graduates, Antwoine Huntley of Durham, reflected that “the truck driver training program at Vance-Granville Community College was just simply excellent. I learned so much, and the instructors were wonderful and knowledgeable about everything we needed to know to help us be successful and get our CDL-A licenses.”

“I would recommend this program for recent high school graduates just starting out or those seeking a career change,” added graduate Leslie Starner of Franklinton. “It is an accredited school with knowledgeable, personable, seasoned educators who themselves have been long-distance truck drivers. There is such a range of resources from the instructors that can help prepare people for success, from start to finish. In addition, the tuition costs are much more reasonable than other private trucking schools in the area and across the region.”

VGCC is scheduled to offer another such nine-week class in early 2021, starting with a mandatory orientation session on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 10 a.m.

The program, certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI), is considered essential to meeting the needs of many companies who need drivers to move goods across the country. Local employers have shown strong support for VGCC’s program and have spoken to students about job opportunities.

To enroll in the program, students must be at least 18 years old, have a valid North Carolina driver’s license, and be able to read and speak English well enough to take instructions from highway signs, to converse with officials, and to complete the required reports.

For more information on the Truck Driver Training Program, please visit or contact Kyle Burwell, Director of Occupational Extension, at 252-738-3276 or

VGCC Assists Local Health Facilities in the Fight Against Coronavirus

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recently donated a variety of personal protective equipment to assist area healthcare facilities in reducing the spread of the Coronavirus. Donated items included 3,500 medical gloves, 60 medical gowns, 120 medical masks and 75 medical masks with shields.

The donation is a part of an ongoing partnership between Vance-Granville Community College and area healthcare facilities in working to improve the health of our community.

As word of the national shortage of medical gloves, gowns and masks became public, Vance-Granville Community College President Rachael Desmarais, with the support of the North Carolina Community College System, began exploring all aspects of making the donation of PPE to local healthcare facilities. Dr. Desmarais realized the positive impact the donation would make on our local medical community and made the offer of medical supplies to Maria Parham Health and Granville Health Systems.

“Vance-Granville Community College healthcare students train at area healthcare facilities on a year-round basis. Therefore, we feel a special obligation to share the resources of the community college with our medical community at every possible opportunity. It just so happens that in this instance, our donation has the opportunity to make an immediate impact on public safety,” Dr. Desmarais stated.

Dr. Desmarais and Vance-Granville Community College remain true to the community college mission of service to our community, especially during these uncertain and rapidly changing times. We commend our brave healthcare professionals as they work tirelessly to care for the ill and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

VGCC Brings Partners Together for Summit on Talent Pipeline

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Employers, economic developers and workforce development experts from across the region recently met at Vance-Granville Community College to learn more about how to meet the critical need to recruit and train workers. The first-of-its-kind “Business & Industry Connect” Summit was held on Nov. 1 in the Civic Center on VGCC’s Main Campus.

Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC, thanked the economic development commission directors in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties for their vision and support of the summit. Along with those agencies, Glen Raven/Sunbrella of Norlina and Mars Petcare of Henderson also served as event sponsors.

Gene Lunger addresses attendees at the VGCC Business & Industry Connect Summit in the college’s Civic Center. (VGCC photo)

The keynote speaker was Gene Lunger, Executive Vice President of Retail Operations for Ashley Furniture Industries, which is the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, in addition to its distribution and retail operations known as Ashley HomeStores.

Lunger argued that businesses must be proactive in focusing on their future workforce. “You have to find solutions to find good people for your organization because it’s not up to anyone else,” he said. “We must help move more students from backpacks to briefcases – by talking to them about the real world, giving them the language they need to use in the professional world and giving them good career information to make up for the bad information they’re getting.”

For example, Lunger advised employers to frequently attend career fairs in order “to meet people, not just resumes.” He said that 90% of their time at a career fair is not recruiting, but is actually career coaching. “Hire based on the attributes of your best performers, not just on a GPA,” Lunger said. “You’re not hiring the person they are today, but the person they will be years from now.” He also urged more investment in people, because “they are the only resource in your business that appreciates in value over time.”

“I’m very grateful to have addressed local businesses and the academic team at VGCC,” Lunger reflected. “There is no doubt in my mind that these two entities can establish a win-win partnership, paving the road for students to effectively transition into the workplace.”

Ken Wilson of VGCC (right) introduces a panel discussion on apprenticeship opportunities. Seated, from left, on stage are Theresa Zook of Mars Petcare, Todd Wemyss of Glen Raven/Sunbrella, Michael Kendrick of Newcomb & Company, Tony Marshall of Innovative Systems Group (ISG) and Kathryn Castelloes of ApprenticeshipNC. (VGCC photo)

After Lunger’s presentation, a panel discussion focused on the topic of apprenticeships, with Kathryn Castelloes, director of ApprenticeshipNC at the N.C. Community College System, moderating. Panelists included Tony Marshall of Innovative Systems Group (ISG), Theresa Zook of Mars Petcare, Michael Kendrick of Newcomb & Company and Todd Wemyss of Glen Raven/Sunbrella.

Marshall said he has seen promising results from his company’s apprenticeship program, focused on cybersecurity. “Nationally, there are going to be about a million unfilled cybersecurity jobs next year,” Marshall noted. “It’s hard to find people with the right skills, so you should find people with the right attitude and then give them the right skills through apprenticeship. The reward is great, both for the company and for the individual apprentice.”

Zook noted that her company works with the community college on apprenticeships. “VGCC has made it so easy for us,” she said.

“It’s very exciting to see the interest in Registered Apprenticeship and the employers that are coming forward to utilize the benefits that it brings,” Castelloes said. “We at ApprenticeshipNC are here to help employers find and train the workers that they need so that they can grow as a company and the state can grow economically.”

Following the discussion, breakout sessions focused on sustainable training, more details on apprenticeships, and workforce development partnerships with public schools. College officials are seeking to foster greater collaboration among numerous partners to reduce duplication, leverage resources and achieve significant workforce impact for the communities it serves.

“The summit was a great opportunity for business and industry to get together, network and find out about K-12 efforts, hiring, apprenticeships and training,” said Ken Wilson, the project manager for VGCC’s TechHire grant and coordinator of the summit. “In the next phases, we are looking for business and industry representatives willing to help steer the Business and Industry Connect initiative to address factors that impact the employee pipeline.”

For more information, contact Ken Wilson at or (252) 738-3259.

VGCC to Offer Enrollment Night on November 19

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College will hold an Enrollment Night on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, from 5 until 7 p.m., at all four of its campuses.

VGCC staff members will be available during those hours to provide information on the enrollment process, academic programs, student support services and financial aid. Advisors will be available to help students register for Spring classes.

Students may visit any campus beginning November 4 to register for Spring Semester. Classes for the Spring 16-week and first 8-week terms start on Monday, January 13, 2020, and a 12-week term starts on Tuesday, February 11.

VGCC’s Main Campus is located at 200 Community College Road, Henderson (Exit 209 on Interstate 85 about midway between Henderson and Oxford).

The Franklin County Campus is located at 8100 N.C. 56., Louisburg (just west of Louisburg).

South Campus is located at 1547 South Campus Drive, Creedmoor (off of N.C. 56, between Creedmoor and Butner).

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

For more information on enrolling, call (252) 738-3234 or visit any VGCC campus.

Jerry Edmonds

VGCC Names Edmonds to Lead Workforce and Community Engagement

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College


Jerry E. Edmonds, III, was recently named Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Engagement at Vance-Granville Community College. In this new position, he will oversee training programs that respond to community needs and prepare students for workforce success, including apprenticeship programs, and support economic development for the region.

In addition, Edmonds will lead the development of partnerships with businesses and government agencies, and coordinate outreach and marketing for the entire college.

Jerry Edmonds, VP of Workforce and Community Engagement. (VGCC photo)

“With the combination of private sector and community college experience that Jerry brings to our college, we look forward to his leadership enhancing VGCC’s ability to serve our communities and build a job-ready workforce,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, the college president.

Edmonds most recently served as Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at Halifax Community College. Prior to his role as Dean, he served as the Small Business Center Director at Halifax Community College, from 2014 until 2017. In 2016, Edmonds was a National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) award recipient. In addition, he achieved North Carolina Community College System level three certification, in recognition of the highest level of Small Business Center Network proficiency.

Before entering the higher education field, Edmonds held a variety of executive leadership positions within Johnson & Johnson and IBM, where he was the recipient of numerous training, recruitment, marketing and leadership awards.

Edmonds earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with an emphasis on Marketing, from Marshall University in 1985 and his Master of Science degree in Human Services Management from Springfield College in 2001. He is currently working toward a doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.

Edmonds is active on a variety of community boards including Working Landscapes, a non-profit agricultural organization based in Warrenton; the North Carolina Community College System Workforce Development Leadership Council; and the Roanoke Rapids chapter of Rotary International, where he served as President from 2017 – 2018 and as a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.

“The role of Vance-Granville Community College, and specifically the department of workforce and community engagement, is to educate and train students to perform well in existing and future jobs in our service area and beyond,” Edmonds said. “I am excited to join such a talented team of faculty, staff and administrators dedicated to student success and advancement.”

VGCC to Hold 8th Annual Small Business Summit

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-Information courtesy Sheri Jones, Director, VGCC Small Business Center

Vance-Granville Community College’s upcoming 8th Annual Small Business Summit entitled “It’s All About the Path You Choose – Using the Right Strategy to Make the Best Moves.” will be held on Tuesday, October 29 from 6 to 9 p.m., with registration starting at 5:30 p.m., at the Warren County Armory & Convention Center.

Cost is $1o and includes dinner; attendance limited to the first 300 that register.

The registration deadline is Thursday, October 24. To register, visit

Maurice Ashley, the first African – American International Grandmaster in Chess, will serve as the speaker. He is a commentator for the biggest chess events in the world including the World Chess Championships, the US Chess Championships, the Grand Chess Tour and the legendary Man vs. Machine matches between Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue.

He is also the co-organizer of the Millionaire Chess Open, the highest stakes Open chess tournament in history and was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 2016. His motivational speeches look at the character-building effects of chess and how the strategies used in the game translate into strategies for life.

The presenting sponsor for this year’s event is NC IDEA, a private foundation with a mission to maximize the economic potential of the people of North Carolina by supporting the formation and fruition of high-growth entrepreneurial endeavors in the state.

NC IDEA President and CEO Thom Ruhe will give a brief presentation on Ice House Entrepreneurship – an experiential, problem-based program designed to empower learners by exposing them to entrepreneurial thinking while immersing them in entrepreneurial experiences that will enable them to develop creativity and critical thinking, effective problem solving, teamwork, and other entrepreneurial skills – skills that will enable them to succeed regardless of their chosen path.

The event is brought to the area by the VGCC Small Business Center, the Warren County Economic Development Commission, Chamber of Commerce of Warren County and the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center.

VGCC Announces 2019/2020 Psychology Club Officers, Members

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-Information courtesy Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College announces the 2019/2020 Psychology Club officers and group members.

VGCC Psychology Club 2019/2020 Officers, Back – Left to Right: Alondra Torres-Ornelas (SGA Rep), Sonya Barnes (Secretary), Heather Horner (Treasurer). Front -Left to Right: Jacob Comer (President), Cody Greene (Vice-President), and Faculty Advisor/Psychology Instructor Sharon O’Geary. (VGCC Photo)

VGCC Psychology Club Group Members, Back – Left to Right: Deja Overby, Alondra Torres-Ornelas, Jade Puryear, Sonya Barnes, Alvin Foster, Milton Harper, Brian Ramirez, Haley Moore, Natalee Stephens. Front – Left to Right:  Jacob Comer, Cody Greene, Sharon O’Geary (Advisor/Psychology Instructor), Heather Horner. Missing from picture: Kaleigh Booker, Paige Brown, Toni Chandler, Abbi Collier, Mataesha Cheek, Kristich Juengling, Norma Martinez, Dokota Mullins, Latolya Person, Michelle Townes, Isaiah Williams. (VGCC photo)