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State Cabinet Secretary Visits VGCC

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College welcomed a member of Governor Roy Cooper’s cabinet, Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders, to the college’s Main Campus on July 18.

During her visit, Secretary Sanders discussed the recently-released “Status of Women in North Carolina Health & Wellness” report, commissioned by the Council for Women & Youth Involvement. The Council is a division of the Department of Administration.

Vance-Granville Community College welcomed a member of Governor Roy Cooper’s cabinet, Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders, to the college’s Main Campus on July 18. (Photo courtesy VGCC)

The report is the second in a series of four publications that provide data and policy recommendations to improve the status of North Carolina women in several key areas. The first report in the series, “The Status of Women in North Carolina: Employment & Earnings,” was released in 2018. The third report will focus on factors related to women’s economic security and economic opportunity, and the fourth on women’s political participation.

The series aims to serve as a resource that may be used to make data-driven decisions about how to shape public policies, prioritize investments, and set programmatic goals to improve the lives of women and families.

Governor Cooper appointed Sanders as Secretary of the N.C. Department of Administration on January 12, 2017. A native of Belhaven, N.C., Sanders brings to the Cooper administration experience in both management and leadership. She is a seasoned pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive who has held the role as vice president of manufacturing and general manager of Biogen’s largest and most advanced manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park.

Sanders holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from N.C. State University and a Master of Health Administration from Pfeiffer University. As a native North Carolinian, wife and mother of twin daughters, she is passionate about improving the status of women in the state. Some of her work includes creating a Women’s Innovation Network at Biogen.

As Sanders puts it, “Improving the status of women in North Carolina is not just a woman’s issue. This is a family, poverty and economic issue.”

High School Students Explore Medical Science at VGCC South Campus

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College has once again partnered with the Wake Area Health Education Center (AHEC) to offer a “Mini-Medical School” camp for high school students. The week-long camp was recently held at VGCC’s South Campus, located between Butner and Creedmoor.

Students used computer simulations and hands-on lab activities to learn about topics that included anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, cardiology, epidemiology, medical genetics and genomics. The course was taught primarily by Becky Brady, a registered nurse and chemical engineer.

Faculty members from VGCC programs that prepare students for health-related careers gave students information about academic pathways and employment prospects.

VGCC has partnered with Wake AHEC since 2014 on Mini-Med School camps. Based in Raleigh, Wake AHEC serves nine counties: Durham, Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Lee, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren. AHECs are located throughout North Carolina and are affiliated with the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

NC AHEC’s mission is to meet the state’s health workforce needs and to provide education programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve the health of the people of North Carolina, with a focus on underserved populations.

On front row, from left: Tanisha Shetty of Green Hope High School; Darlene Villarroel-Lopez of Wake Forest High School; Abigail Gorman of Green Hope High School; Alexis Duncan of Regan High School; Jenna Curry of Granville Early College High School; Alhanna Cancel-Roman of Wake Forest High School; Kaylee Huff of Granville Early College High School; Shreya Gandi of Enloe High School; and Pooja Shah of Wake Early College of Health & Science; On back row, from left: lead instructor Becky Brady; Anushka Mandalapu of Wake Early College Health & Science; Nijaha Alston of Granville Academy; William Sharp of Leesville Road High School; Ashleigh Kiger of Mt. Tabor High School; Seth Jones of Granville Central High School; Brandon Bowling of South Granville High School; Brooke Bowling of South Granville High School; Lacey Blackley of South Granville High School; and Andre Hargrove of Granville Central High School. (VGCC photo)

DOA Secretary to Present Report on Women’s Health at VGCC

-Press Release, State of North Carolina Department of Administration

DOA Secretary to Present Report on Women’s Health and Wellness at Vance-Granville Community College

When: Thursday, July 18, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Who: NC Department of Administration with Vance-Granville Community College

What: Presentation on a new report on Women’s Health & Wellness in NC

Where: Vance-Granville Community College (main campus), 200 Community College Road, Henderson, NC (Civic Center Building 9, Seminar Room #1)

Key speakers: NC Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders

Report Highlights:              

  • North Carolina ranks 11th highest in infant mortality and 9th highest in stroke mortality among women – and the problem is even worse in rural counties.
  • North Carolina’s mortality rates for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and breast cancer, among other diseases, have decreased since the 2013 report.
  • In North Carolina, more than one-third of women (35 percent) have experienced at least one type of intimate partner violence (IPV) and more than 35 percent of North Carolina women report having experienced some form of aggression or control by an intimate partner.
  • There are wide disparities in North Carolina women’s disease mortality rates by race and ethnicity. The heart disease rate among Black women in North Carolina is more than three times higher than the rate of Hispanic women, the racial and ethnic group with the lowest rate. Black women also have a rate of breast cancer mortality that is more than three times higher than the rate for Hispanic women.

VGCC Small Business Center to Offer Free QuickBooks, Financial Classes

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

The Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center is offering two free, three hour classes entitled “Quick Start Bookkeeping with QuickBooks.”

The classes will be offered on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, at the times and locations as listed below and is being taught by Semone Brisson, an Accountant and QuickBooks Consultant of Brisson’s Accounting out of Salisbury, NC. A description of the classes content is below and registration is required.

If you, your members or someone you know could benefit from these classes, please forward the following information and registration links to them.

The links can also be accessed from our website at https://www.vgcc.edu/coned/small-business-center/#schedules.

CLASS DESCRIPTION

1)  “Quick Start Bookkeeping with QuickBooks”

This informative seminar is geared toward the novice bookkeeper and QuickBooks user. An accountant and QuickBooks consultant will show you how to set up and use QuickBooks desktop software for everyday accounting tasks in the simplest, most efficient way possible for your company or non-profit.

Topics include:

  • Setting up a company file quickly
  • Understanding and designing financial statements
  • How items and classes work
  • When to use receivables, payables and bank feeds
  • What is a “set of books” and how does it work?
  • What bookkeeping practices do I need?

This seminar will benefit both QuickBooks desktop and online users. It is not intended to be a “step-by-step hands-on class” and does not require a book. Questions are welcomed and encouraged.

“Quick Start Bookkeeping with QuickBooks”
Wednesday, July 31 from 6 – 9 p.m.

Kerr Lake Country Club – 600 Hedrick Dr. Henderson, NC 27537

Registration Link:  https://www.ncsbc.net/workshop.aspx?ekey=530390033

2) “Understanding Financial Statements”

Maintaining and understanding financial information is critical to running a profitable small business. This three hour seminar helps small business owners focus on using key financial reports to understand and operate their businesses. The seminar also explains how small business owners can use their financial statements to identify potential problems before they become serious threats to the business’ survival.

“Understanding Financial Statements”

Wednesday, July 31 from 1 – 4 p.m.
Vance-Granville Community College, Bldg. 7 – 200 Community College Road Henderson, NC  27536

Registration Link:  https://www.ncsbc.net/workshop.aspx?ekey=530390035

VGCC Child Care Center Awarded Five Stars

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

The state of North Carolina has once again awarded a five-star license — the highest possible rating — to the Child Care Center at Vance-Granville Community College’s Main Campus.

State evaluations of child care programs are conducted once every three years, explained Melanie Copeland, the manager of the VGCC center. “On a scale of one to 15 points, our program received 14 total points, earning the renewal of our five-star status,” Copeland said. “The five-star rating demonstrates that we provide exceptionally high-quality care and education.”

Above: The staff of the Vance-Granville Community College Child Care Center (on the college’s Main Campus) proudly display the certificate indicating the center’s renewed five-star license. They include, seated, from left, Pam Harris, Melanie Copeland and Kathy Hughes; and standing, from left, Hilda Cordell, Anita Fuller, and Rhonda Pegram. (VGCC Photo)

Since the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education began the current system of star rated licenses for child care centers in 2000, the center on VGCC’s Main Campus has earned the five-star rating in seven consecutive evaluations.

As part of the evaluation process, the Child Care Center was visited by fire and sanitarian inspectors, a state licensing consultant and two state-appointed evaluators. They rated the center in two categories – staff education standards and program standards. The center received a perfect score of 7 points in the area of staff education, 6 points for program standards, and a bonus point because all of its teachers have at least associate’s degrees in early childhood education.

“The strength of our child care center is our staff! The dedication they show day in and day out is what made our success possible. They are the most devoted group of ladies I have ever met. I knew when my two boys were here that this was a remarkable center. I am blessed to work side by side this group every day!” Copeland said.

Copeland pointed out that not only does the center provide outstanding child care, but it also affords an excellent environment for students in Vance-Granville’s Early Childhood Education program to gain practical training.

The VGCC Child Care Center is licensed to accommodate 38 children, toddler to four years old. For more information, parents can call Melanie Copeland at (252) 738-3220.

VGCC Golf Tournament Reaches Historic Milestone During Anniversary Year

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College had many numbers to celebrate at the conclusion of its recent Endowment Fund Golf Tournament: 35 annual tournaments, 50 years of service by the college to the community and more than 1 million dollars raised to date.

In fact, the fundraising total for the 35th tournament, presented this year by CertainTeed of Oxford, was more than $114,000, which will help fund scholarships for deserving students and support the mission of the college. That brought the total amount generated by all VGCC golf tournaments since 1985 over the million-dollar mark for the first time, to approximately $1,101,000.

A total of 148 golfers formed 37 teams to play in either the morning or the afternoon round on May 7 at the Henderson Country Club.

“Strong support from the community is part of the history of this college, dating back to 1969, and this year’s golf tournament was an incredible example of that support,” said VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais. “On behalf of the students who will benefit, we want to thank all of the golfers and sponsors who made the tournament a success, demonstrating their commitment to higher education and to our region’s economic future.”

At the dinner held to round out the day, players received trophies as they also took home an assortment of door prizes and participated in a silent auction. In keeping with the theme of celebrating VGCC’s half-century history, attendees heard remarks from a member of the college’s first graduating class (who is now a faculty member), Faith Harris, and from a member of its most recent graduating class, Evan O’Geary of Henderson. Both expressed their appreciation to tournament participants.

In the morning round, the Sullins Engineering team of Ben Bryan, Tony Murray, Mike Hill and Scott Dickerson took home the “first net” trophy. The team of Xavier Wortham, Cecil Lockley, Darryl Moss and Robert Newby won “second net.” The “first gross” trophy went to the AAA Gas team of David Thomas, Blair Thomas, Hal Finch and Kyle Holtzman.

In the afternoon round, the Union Bank team of Dicky Flye, Andrew Flye, Hal O’Geary and Jan Fletcher finished with the “first net” score. The Boyd Chevrolet team of Mike Rainey, Russ Boyd, Brian Boyd and Bobby Wilkerson won “second net.” The “first gross” trophy in the afternoon went to the Institutional Interiors team of Tim Hill, Billy Stanton and Mike Baskett.

David Rigsbee took both the longest-drive prize on Hole 1 and the closest-to-the-pin prize on Hole 11 in the morning round.

Blake Montgomery had the longest drive while Heath Davis won the closest-to-the-pin prize in the afternoon round.

Numerous companies and individuals supported the VGCC tournament as sponsors. The afternoon round was sponsored by Altec Industries of Creedmoor.

Other Premier Sponsors included Bridgestone Bandag, Carolina Commonwealth, Charles Boyd Chevrolet Buick GMC, Duke Energy, Durham Coca-Cola, First Citizens Wealth Management, Glen Raven, John Nelms, Jr., M.R. Williams, Novozymes North America, Private Wealth Management of N.C., Robling Medical, Universal Leaf North America U.S., Inc., Vanco Outdoor Equipment and Wester Insurance Agency.

Platinum Sponsors included CenturyLink, Core & Main, Granville County Farm Bureau, Henderson Collegiate, Institutional Interiors, K-Flex, Kilian Engineering, Mast Drug Company, Union Bank and Variety Stores, Inc.

Gold Sponsors included Carolina Sunrock, The Athlete’s Foot, Golden Skillet, Ted’s Catering Service and Winston International.

Green Sponsors included Barnett Real Properties, Inc., Dill Air Controls Products, HG Reynolds Company, Inc., International Paper, May & Place, Newton Instrument Company, Nick & Sons Truck Repair, NT Techno, RFR Metal Fabrication, Vescom, North America, Wake Electric Membership Corp., and Watkins Plumbing.

Fairway Sponsors were Granville Health System and Greystone Concrete Products.

Tee Box Sponsors included Ag Carolina Farm Credit, Ahner Security, BB&T, Banzet, Thompson, Styers & May, Brame Specialty, Carolina Country Snacks, Century 21 Country Knolls Realty, Inc., City Tire, Inc., College Station Food Inc., Comfort Systems USA, Comfort Zone, Cross & Currin Attorneys, Curtis & Joanne Thompson, Dabney Drive Animal Hospital, Dave & Kay Currin, Dave Carver, Drake Dentistry, DDS, PA, Eddie and Debra Ferguson, Encore Tech, Frazco, Inc. Insurance – Real Estate, Fred’s Towing & Transport, Inc., Granville County EDC, Hicks, Wrenn, PLLC, Hight Warehouse, JM White Funeral Home, Mack and Judy Choplin, Marsha J. Nelson, Medical Arts Pharmacy, Morton and Sherman Implement Co., Inc., MPACT Solutions, LLC, One Source Document Solutions, Pete Smith’s Tire and Quick Lube, Phillips Dorsey Thomas Waters & Brafford, P.A., Pino’s Italian Restaurant, Postal Plus Business Center, Riggs-Harrod, Robco Manufacturing/Alumadock Marine Structures, Sherman & Boddie, Inc., Southern Educational Systems, Southern Laundry, Stainback, Satterwhite & Zollicoffer, PLLC, Sunrise Biscuits of Oxford, Thomas Hester, Vance Construction Company, the Vance-Granville Deans, Waste Industries, Whitco Bug Warriors, William L. Stark and Company, and WOW Wash on Wheels.

Other contributions were made by Ace Hardware of Oxford, Bamboo Garden, Barbara Harris, Bob Hubbard/Angus Barn, CDWG, Carolina Country Snacks, Chick-fil-A, City Tire, Deanna Stegall, George’s of Henderson, Ichibar Japanese Restaurant, Institutional Interiors Inc., Nan’s, The Peanut Roaster, Schewels Furniture Company (Henderson), Schewels Furniture Company (Oxford), Stella & Dot, Sunrise Biscuits, Tarheel Vending and Wholesale, Tidal Wave, US Foods, Vance Furniture, Vanco Outdoor Equipment, Robert Winston, ARC3 Gases, Backyard Retreat, Cal Rogers – Events 2 America, Circuit Tech, Dr. Ben Currin, Donald Seifert, Jim Crawford, Judge Henry & Mamie Banks, Lewis Electric of Oxford, Sarah Baskerville, Tru-Green Landscaping, and Walmart Distribution.

Each year, the golf tournament is the major fundraising event for the VGCC Endowment Fund, through which more than 9,400 scholarships have been awarded to students since 1982. Scholarships have been established by individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. For more information, call (252) 738-3409.

The Sullins Engineering team of, from left, Scott Dickerson, Mike Hill, Tony Murray and Ben Bryan took home the “first net” trophy in the morning round of the 35th Annual Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund Golf Tournament at the Henderson Country Club. (VGCC Photo)

The team of, from left, Robert Newby, Cecil Lockley, Xavier Wortham and Darryl Moss won “second net” in the morning round of the 35th Annual Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund Golf Tournament at the Henderson Country Club. (VGCC Photo)

The “first gross” trophy went to the AAA Gas team of, from left, Blair Thomas, David Thomas, Kyle Holtzman and Hal Finch in the morning round of the 35th Annual Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund Golf Tournament at the Henderson Country Club. (VGCC Photo)

The Union Bank team, which included, from left, Dickie Flye, Andrew Flye, Jan Fletcher and Hal O’Geary, finished with the “first net” score in the afternoon round of the 35th Annual Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund Golf Tournament at the Henderson Country Club. (VGCC Photo)

Runner-up in the afternoon round of the 35th Annual Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund Golf Tournament, winning “second net,” was the Boyd Chevrolet team of, from left, Brian Boyd, Bobby Wilkerson, Mike Rainey and Russ Boyd. (VGCC Photo)

The “first gross” trophy in the afternoon went to the Institutional Interiors team of, from left, Macy Foster, Billy Stanton, Mike Baskett and Tim Hill in the afternoon round of the 35th Annual Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund Golf Tournament at the Henderson Country Club. (VGCC Photo)

New VGCC Scholarship Endowed in Memory of Local Couple

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Dr. M.W. Wester, III, and his wife, Sara Wester, of Henderson have endowed a new scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College in memory of Dr. Wester’s parents.

The new Presidential Merit Award-level scholarship honors the legacy of the late Dr. and Mrs. M.W. Wester, Jr., better known as “Wes” and “Dee Dee” to their friends.

The late Dr. M.W. Wester, Jr. and Dee Dee Wester. (Photo contributed by the family)

The Westers met and married at Duke University, while he was a medical student and she was studying physical therapy. After completing school, they returned to his hometown, Henderson, where he opened a family medicine practice. He brought in a partner, Dr. Reg Tucker, and later Dr. Beverly Tucker, Dr. Roddy Drake, Dr. Randolph Mills and Dr. Franklin Mills.

The practice eventually became known as Henderson Family Medicine Clinic and is now Duke Primary Care Henderson. Dr. Wester was always interested in the education of new physicians and served as an adjunct faculty member at Duke and at UNC-Chapel Hill. He brought a number of medical students to the clinic in Henderson to complete their family practice rotations.

Mrs. Wester, born Eleanor Clardy, practiced physical therapy at Maria Parham Hospital for many years. Her hobby, however, was teaching ceramics, china painting and doll making at VGCC. She started teaching when the college was still a technical institute that was housed in the former Maria Parham Hospital in downtown Henderson, and she continued until 2008. Mrs. Wester also served on the VGCC Endowment Fund Board while she was serving as president of the Hospital Guild.

Sara Wester has continued her mother-in-law’s tradition of involvement with VGCC, as a member of the college’s board of trustees since 2004.

The new scholarship will be awarded to a student in a Health Sciences program.

VGCC Endowment Director Eddie Ferguson, Endowment Specialist Kay Currin and President Dr. Rachel Desmarais join Sara Wester and Dr. M.W. “Buddy” Wester, III, to celebrate the creation of the new scholarship in memory of Dr. Wester’s parents, during the 35th annual VGCC Endowment Fund Golf Tournament at the Henderson Country Club. (VGCC photo)

“This scholarship is a fitting tribute to the Westers’ lifetime of service and will inspire the students who receive it, as they pursue their own careers serving others through health care,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, VGCC’s president. “At the same time, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vance-Granville, we are reminded of the important role of continuing education classes like those taught by Mrs. Wester, which have provided not only skills but also joy to members of the community throughout our history.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 9,400 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, call (252) 738-3409.

Triangle North Healthcare Foundation Endows Third VGCC Scholarship

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

The Triangle North Healthcare Foundation recently endowed a new scholarship specifically designed to support Vance-Granville Community College Nursing students who are enrolled in a program to complete bachelor’s degrees.

In awarding the “Triangle North Healthcare Foundation RIBN Presidential Scholar Award,” preference will be given to students in the “Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses” (RIBN) program. RIBN students are simultaneously enrolled at the community college and North Carolina A&T State University. They earn associate’s degrees in nursing through VGCC over three years (while also taking A&T courses online) and then continue for one year of additional courses at A&T required for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

From left, Triangle North Healthcare Foundation (TNHF) executive director Val Short, VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais and Arline Richardson, a TNHF board member and chair of its Scholarship Committee, celebrate the creation of the new scholarship. (VGCC photo)

The new endowment marks a continuation of the partnership between the college and the foundation, which has already created two VGCC Academic Achievement Scholarships, one of which is also designed to be awarded to students in the RIBN program. The Presidential Scholar Award is the college’s second-highest scholarship tier.

“Triangle North Healthcare Foundation is pleased to support the RIBN program, which enables a local student to achieve a bachelor’s degree in nursing at a university while remaining in the community,” said Val Short, the Foundation’s executive director.

Based in Henderson, the Triangle North Healthcare Foundation provides grants to nonprofits organizations, governmental agencies, and schools in Vance, Warren, Granville and Franklin counties. The Foundation also provides scholarships to students in the region who are pursuing health care careers.

“We are grateful for the Triangle North Healthcare Foundation’s partnership with our college to further strengthen the RIBN program,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, VGCC’s president. “This scholarship will be a new source of support to help outstanding Nursing students prepare for rewarding careers in health care and meet employers’ need for highly-trained professionals.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 9,400 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, call (252) 738-3409.

Corbitt Preservation Association Establishes Annual VGCC Scholarship

-Information courtesy Vance-Granville Community College

On behalf of Vance-Granville Community College, Endowment Fund Director Eddie Ferguson recently accepted a check from Mr. Tom Burleson of the Corbitt Preservation Association.

The check is for an annual scholarship to be awarded to a second-year Mechatronics student holding the highest GPA. The scholarship recipient will also receive a one-year membership in the Corbitt Preservation Association.

On behalf of Vance-Granville Community College, Endowment Fund Director Eddie Ferguson (left) recently accepted a check from Mr. Tom Burleson (right) of the Corbitt Preservation Association. The check is for an annual scholarship to be awarded to a second-year Mechatronics student holding the highest GPA. (VGCC photo)

VGCC Graduates 15 Cadets in 108th Basic Law Enforcement Training Class

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Fifteen cadets graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program at Vance-Granville Community College in a ceremony held May 14 in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus. After passing the state certification exam, all are authorized to work in any law enforcement agency in North Carolina.

Above: On front row, from left: graduates Kevin Allen, Taylor Inscoe, Zachary Long and the college’s interim director of Law Enforcement Training/BLET, Glen Boyd; on second row, from left: graduates Maggie Cabiness, Jonathan Kearney, Jeremy Moore, Zachary Workman and Seth Hodge; and on back row, from left: graduates Gina Chappell, Daniel Allen, Michael Bader, Andrew Spitzer, Jake Coleman, Sabrina Hoyle and Emma Britt. (VGCC Photo)

Honored as members of VGCC’s 108th BLET class were: Emma Carey Britt and Andrew Ronald Spitzer, both of Butner Public Safety; Jeremy Dale Moore and Zachary Lance Workman, both of the Granville County Sheriff’s Office; Jake Matthew Coleman and Sabrina Edward Hoyle, both of the Henderson Police Department; Seth Thomas Hodge of the N.C. Division of Parks & Recreation; Daniel Marquis Allen, Michael James Bader and Gina Christine Chappell, all of the Oxford Police Department; Kevin Ward Allen, Taylor Nicole Inscoe and Zachary Thomas Long, all of the Vance County Sheriff’s Office; Maggie Rena Cabiness and Jonathan Shawn Kearney, both of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

The class was exceptional in at least two major ways. First, all 15 cadets who began the program successfully graduated, marking a rare 100-percent completion rate for the rigorous 16 weeks of training. Second, each member of the class was employed by a law enforcement agency by the day of their graduation.

Speaking as leader of the class, Cadet Seth Hodge thanked all the graduates’ family members and friends in attendance for their support. He added that the class had learned a great deal about teamwork. “We as a group of strangers decided on this path together, and we were tasked to complete our first major hurdle in our careers together,” Hodge said. Learning to trust one another, he said the team had then become a family. “And no matter where our lives take us from here, no matter the badge or uniform we wear, I want you to always remember just what we are: family,” he added.

VGCC Campus Police Chief Sean Newton, representing the program’s many instructors, was chosen by the cadets as the keynote speaker for their graduation. He congratulated the cadets on the completion of “a long, hard journey.”

Newton reminded the new law enforcement professionals that they would be taking an “oath of honor” to uphold and protect the Constitution, their community and their agency.

“The first thing you will uphold is the Constitution,” Newton said. “You’re taking an oath to protect the rights of all people of our state and country: the victims of crimes, the general public, and those accused of crimes. In my opinion, there is no greater responsibility than this.”

Second, they will pledge to uphold their community. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to embrace and include the community in your law enforcement efforts,” Newton said. “We’ve seen a reported breakdown between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Some of it is unfortunately true, while some may be exaggerated by social media or certain biases. Regardless of the reason, we must, as members of the law enforcement community, constantly strive to better these relationships.”

Finally, he said, graduates will swear an oath to the agencies they serve. “I would like to add all law enforcement officers in general to that category,” Newton said. “Always remember, you won’t be the only officer judged by your actions; every other officer in the country will be, too. No other profession is scrutinized as much as law enforcement, and rightfully so.”

The police chief called on graduates to think carefully about the words in their oath and remember them as they start their careers. “How you embrace these words will determine how successful your career will be,” Newton said.

Glen Boyd, interim director of Law Enforcement programs and BLET at VGCC, presented awards to several students. Kevin Allen took home the Academic Achievement Award for having the top grade average in the written tests each cadet must pass. Seth Hodge earned the Physical Fitness Award for scoring highest in the various fitness tests the cadets undergo during physical training. Michael Bader won the “Top Gun” Award for having the highest accuracy score in firearms qualification.

For more information on the BLET program, contact Glen Boyd at [email protected].