VGCC Introduces Online Career Coach Program for Students

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recently introduced a new web-based service that will help students explore careers and make plans for their future.

Through the interactive “Career Coach” program, students can:

  • take a career assessment and get suggestions for possible career goals, based on their interests;
  • access the latest information about jobs and salaries in the region for various career fields; and
  • learn about particular VGCC education and training programs that lead to the careers they want.

By linking jobs to education, current or future students can see the potential “return on investment” of community college programs. They can even see a list of employers in the region who have posted jobs for a particular type of career within the last year.

“Not only current students, but also people who are thinking about becoming students, can use the site to learn more about various career options and the VGCC programs that prepare them for those careers,” said VGCC Director of Career Services Linda Fletcher. “Users can create accounts which allow them to save the results of their assessments and their favorite careers or programs of study. We think this will help members of our community make well-informed career decisions and get training for skills that are in demand by employers.”

Other special features of Career Coach include a tool that allows veterans of the armed services to find civilian careers that are related to their military occupations and a tool that helps users create a professional resume.

Career Coach is linked from the home page and can be accessed directly at

VGCC Experiences Enrollment Growth

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College received welcome news as it celebrated its 50th anniversary recently: an increase in enrollment over the same time last year. As of the beginning of the fall semester in August, VGCC had 3,073 students enrolled in curriculum programs. That represented a 3.7% increase compared to the beginning of the fall 2018 semester when enrollment stood at 2,963.

VGCC Board of Trustees Chair Danny Wright and President Rachel Desmarais, Ph.D. cut the cake at VGCC’s 50th celebration. (VGCC photo)

A significant source of the increase was enrollment by high school students in college programs, either through Early College High Schools or other Career & College Promise pathways. There were 15% more of those students enrolled than there were at the beginning of fall 2018.

“We are pleased that an increasing number of students are participating in our high-quality education and training programs, which are preparing them to achieve their career goals,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. “For 50 years, Vance-Granville Community College has been providing opportunities for education and training, with the strong support of the community. Thanks to that support, we continue to serve as an accessible, innovative, student-centered higher education partner for our region.”

Established in 1969, VGCC offers more than 40 curriculum programs, in which students work toward certificates, diplomas and degrees.

Area residents and businesses can also take advantage of a variety of Continuing Education opportunities, as well as the High School Equivalency and Adult High School Diploma programs.

High school students can also get a step ahead by starting their college education early with VGCC courses.

The college has four campuses – one each in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties – and offers online programs, as well.

For more information, visit

Registration Underway for Tour de Vance Cycling Event

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Registration is now underway for the Seventh Annual Tour de Vance bike ride, scheduled for Saturday, October 19, 2019. The ride has been growing steadily since its inception, drawing families and first-timers in addition to the most seasoned of cyclists for four separate cycling events.

This year’s ride will help VGCC’s Endowment Fund to support scholarships for students enrolled in Health Sciences programs at the college. Programs include Associate Degree Nursing, Radiography, Practical Nursing, Histotechnology, Medical Assisting and Pharmacy Technology.

Proceeds from this year’s ride will also go to the Vance County United Way. The organization’s goal is to support the work of local public service agencies such as the Addition Recovery Center for Men, Community Partners of Hope, Smart Start, Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, LifeLine Outreach and the Harold Sherman Adult Day Center.

Several different options are available for cyclists. The 9-mile “fun ride” is ideal for youth, families and beginners. A 20-mile course suits riders ready for a bit more distance. Experienced cyclists can choose a 31-mile “Forest and Farmland” circle route through the country or a 62-mile “metric century” that adds to that 31-mile circle route an out-and-back spur to the Kerr Lake area.

The rides will start and finish at VGCC’s Main Campus, located off Interstate 85 and Poplar Creek Road at 200 Community College Road in Henderson.

All riders can register through the Vance-Granville Community College website at Online registration will end at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18. On-site registration will be an option at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the event.

The 9-mile ride will cost $10 for each rider. The 20-mile ride will cost $20 for those who register by Sept. 9, increasing to $25 thereafter. The 31-mile and 62-mile (or “metric century”) rides will cost $30 for those who register by Sept. 9, increasing to $40 thereafter.

“Vance-Granville is honored to once again be associated with an event that has become such a success and a symbol of our college’s 50-year history of community involvement,” said Eddie Ferguson, director of the VGCC Endowment Fund. “Joining forces with the United Way means that we can make an even bigger impact, raising funds for good causes while promoting the importance of exercise and good health.”

Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 19. The 62-mile ride starts at 8:30 a.m., the 31-mile ride at 9:30, the 20-mile ride at 10 a.m., and the 9-mile ride at 10:30 a.m. Law enforcement will accompany riders on the 9-mile route.

Lunch will be provided.

Participating sponsors include Granville-Vance Public Health, Carolina GI Associates PC, Joel Goodwin MD, Barnett Properties, Henderson Fruit & Produce, Prim Rentals, T&T Laundries, Inc., AAA Gas, College Station, Ted’s Catering, and Bearpond Market.

For more information, contact Eddie Ferguson at (252) 738-3264 or [email protected]

Scholarship Fund Established at VGCC in Memory of Local Teacher

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Friends and colleagues of the late Robert C. Pirie, Jr., have established a scholarship fund in his memory at Vance-Granville Community College.

Pirie passed away in May at the age of 75. A Vance County native, he was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, including service in Vietnam. He retired from the Vance County school system after teaching for more than 30 years, primarily at Zeb Vance Elementary School.

From left, Mike Bullard, Billy Horner, Wanda Bullard and VGCC Endowment Director Eddie Ferguson meet to discuss plans for the scholarship in memory of Robert Pirie. (VGCC photo)

Retired educators Michael and Wanda Bullard, along with Pirie’s best friend, Billy Horner, and his wife, Patricia Horner, helped set up the scholarship at VGCC. “I was a student of Mr. Pirie’s during his first year of teaching and then had the honor of teaching with him for 12 years,” Wanda Bullard said. “He encouraged me to become a teacher and then became my mentor. We became very close and I thought of him as a second father. I am one of many that he encouraged and supported.”

Bullard noted that Pirie received several awards for his math teaching abilities. He also coached the Zeb Vance Eagles Pee Wee football team for many years and was well-respected in the school system and the community. She recalled that Pirie and Horner shared a love of college sports, attending numerous Duke University home football games and ACC basketball tournaments together.

When Pirie struggled with health issues in his later years, Bullard and Horner helped take care of him. “He was like family to both of us,” Bullard said. “We wanted to start the scholarship in his name as a way to continue his legacy of encouragement and support of students being the best they can be.”

“We are touched that those who knew and worked with Mr. Pirie, those he taught and those he inspired, have been generous and thoughtful enough to honor his memory through a scholarship,” said VGCC Endowment Director Eddie Ferguson. “When fully endowed, this new scholarship will help VGCC students continue their education, and that’s a perfect way to pay tribute to an outstanding educator.”

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 or to make a contribution to help fully endow this scholarship, call Kay Currin at (252) 738-3409.

Contributions to the scholarship fund can be mailed to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund, at P.O. Box 917, Henderson, NC 27536.

VGCC Holds Convocation to Start New Academic Year

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recently held its annual fall convocation to bring faculty and staff together for a kick-off to the new academic year.

Much of the event focused on a discussion of student success. Special guests for the convocation were representatives of “Achieving the Dream” (ATD), a national education reform organization designed to assist community colleges with improving student success. VGCC joined the ATD network of colleges in 2018.

ATD Leadership Coach Dr. Joanne Bashford and ATD Data Coach Dr. Linda Hagedorn presented information about the college’s progress in moving the needle on student success in the past six months.

VGCC Director of Planning & Research Julie Hicks and English faculty member Frankie Frink provided their colleagues with updates on key data points and forms of support to address the needs of students who are food insecure, respectively.

VGCC’s participation in Achieving the Dream and the leadership of Dr. Rachel Desmarais, who became college president earlier this year, have caused the college to place a greater emphasis on data related to teaching and learning, and equitable student outcomes for all.

Approximately 44 VGCC faculty and staff members serve on one of four ATD teams: the Core, Data, Communications, and Strategies teams. These teams will continue to work collaboratively throughout the fall semester to develop an Action Plan derived from the feedback and planning that took place during the fall convocation. This ATD Action Plan will be connected to the VGCC Strategic Plan.

“Convocation provided an opportunity for all new and returning faculty to learn more about the latest with ATD and provide feedback,” said Dr. Levy Brown, the college’s vice president of Learning, Student Engagement & Success. “We are committed to equitable student outcomes, which ultimately impact student success.”

The event also included the opportunity to recognize VGCC employees who have recently hit milestones by completing five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years of service.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of Vance-Granville Community College’s service to the community, we celebrate the dedicated people who have made the college a wonderful place to work and learn, while we also look ahead to the future through the Achieving the Dream program,” said Dr. Desmarais.

VGCC Honors Faculty and Staff Members of the Year

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

At Vance-Granville Community College’s recent fall convocation, college President Dr. Rachel Desmarais announced awards to a pair of outstanding employees for the 2019-20 year.

Tammy Ball, an instructor for Office Administration and Medical Office Administration and Online Retention Specialist, was named Faculty Member of the Year, while Jennifer “Jenny” Luffman, Accounts Receivable and Third Party Billing Coordinator for the VGCC Business Office, was selected as the Staff Member of the Year.

The honors are two 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 the annual stipends to recognize excellence among VGCC instructors and staff members, Glen Raven has endowed several scholarships for students.

Ball and Luffman are now eligible to be considered for the N.C. Community College System’s statewide R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching and BB&T Staff Person of the Year awards, respectively.

“This year, Vance-Granville Community College celebrates 50 years of excellence, which would not have been possible without outstanding faculty and staff members like Jenny and Tammy,” said Dr. Desmarais. “The fact that both are not only dedicated members of our team but also VGCC alumni is a testament to the quality education they received here, as well as the community atmosphere that this institution has maintained.”

Tammy Ball

A Youngsville resident, Ball has been teaching at VGCC for the past six-and-a-half years but first developed a great passion for the college over 20 years ago, when she was a student. “I came to VGCC to study in the college transfer program,” Ball recalled. “After graduation, I looked to the college for classes to support my career in healthcare, and when I finally did decide to transfer, returned to VGCC once again to take business and accounting classes to take with me to the university.”

Tammy Ball (left) accepts the Faculty Member of the Year award from Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. (VGCC photo)

After working as a medical records manager and clinical secretary at a retirement community, Ball completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration at N.C. State University. She then worked full-time at the university for several years, primarily in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Since joining VGCC, Ball has taught not only curriculum but continuing education courses, many of which she also developed, and has advised many on-campus and online students. She was lead advisor for the Office Administration Club for three years and has served on a variety of college committees.

“I’ve seen first-hand how the college can help our community through workforce training and transferable courses,” Ball said. “I love each day at VGCC where I can give back and help my own community learn and grow!”

Jennifer Luffman

Luffman, a resident of Bullock, said that she set a goal of one day working at VGCC while she was a student at the college, earning associate degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. “The staff and faculty were always energetic and helpful, and I could tell they loved their jobs,” Luffman recalled.

Dr. Rachel Desmarais (left), president of VGCC, presents the Staff member of the Year award to Jennifer Luffman. (VGCC photo)

She first went to work in the medical billing field for a neurologist, but two years after graduating from the community college, she was hired as a cashier at VGCC’s Main Campus. That was 14 years ago.

“I held the cashier position for a couple of years, and then I became a Lead Accounting Technician,” Luffman said. “Currently, I am the Accounts Receivable and Third Party Billing Coordinator. VGCC has helped me to grow professionally.”

She has also served as chair of the VGCC Scholarship Committee, on various N.C. Community College System task forces, and as president of the Vance County Association of Educational Office Professionals.

Luffman added, “I love VGCC and I love working with the staff and faculty, but most importantly, I love helping our students.”

Town Talk 08/26/19: VGCC’s Continuing Education Provides Skilled Local Workforce

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Dawn Michelle Tucker, Dean of Adult Basic Skills and Continuing Education at Vance-Granville Community College, was the guest of honor on Monday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk.

Celebrating 50 years of serving and educating the community, Tucker said the college continues to excel because it adapts to the changing needs of both residents and employers alike.

Dawn Michelle Tucker, Dean of Adult Basic Skills and Continuing Education at Vance-Granville Community College, was the guest of honor on Monday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk. Celebrating 50 years of serving and educating the community, Tucker said the college continues to excel because it adapts to the changing needs of both residents and employers alike. (WIZS photo)

“While there are careers that require a two-year or four-year degree, there are also careers that require a specific skillset or certifications,” said Tucker. “VGCC’s Continuing Education Department works to quickly ascertain the needs of the workforce and then builds a skilled workforce for the employers.”

In fact, Tucker said VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais has been committed to providing an educated workforce to meet the current and future needs of local employers since taking the helm in January.

“One of Dr. Desmarais’ visions is that we meet the needs of our workforce in a short-term, workforce development kind of way,” said Tucker.

On the Adult Basic Skills side of the house, Tucker said the majority of jobs now have a minimum requirement of an Adult High School Diploma or High School Equivalency (GED).

“When you complete an Adult High School Diploma or receive your High School Equivalency, you are laying the groundwork to an employer that you are capable of completing a basic level of education. They know if you complete a high school credential then you have a certain level of academic skill,” explained Tucker.

Offering programs primarily to adult learners 18 years and older, VGCC provides High School Equivalency classes free of charge at all four campus locations. Daytime and evening classes are available.

Other programs and areas that fall under the Con. Ed. umbrella include Fire and Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, Law Enforcement Training, Occupational Extension, Occupational Healthcare, Personal Enrichment and VGCC’s Small Business Center.

For more information on VGCC’s Continuing Education division or to register, please visit, register in person at any campus location, or call (252) 738-3324/(252) 738-3345.

To hear Tucker’s interview in its entirety, please click the play button below. Listen live to WIZS’ Town Talk Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on 1450AM, 100.1 FM or online at

VGCC Holds Convocation, Recognizes Employees’ Years of Service

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-Information and photos courtesy Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College held Convocation on Friday, August 16, 2019, at the Main Campus in Henderson.

Faculty and staff with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service were recognized and are pictured below.

5 Years of Service (front row, seated, left to right) Dr. Erica Fleming, Julie Hicks, Erin Folz (second row, left to right) Leslie Hurt, Stacey Soles, Victoria Whited, April Rossi, Melanie Copeland, Faith Harris, Stephen Barney (third row, left to right) Stewart Lyon, Isaac Talley, Robert Newby, Gregory Wilson, Steven Graham, Luther Curtis, Wallace Evans, Ken Wilson, Mike Brodie.

10 Years of Service (front row, left to right) Frankie Frink, Veta Pierce-Cappetta, MaryBeth Vick (back row, left to right) Sean Newton, Lyndon Hall.

15 Years of Service (left to right) Rusty Pace, Dr. Tracey Carter, Lisa Edwards.

20 Years of Service (seated, left to right) Julie Jones, Wille Mae Foster-Hill, Jennifer Allen (standing) Craig Saunders.

25 Years of Service (left to right) Susan Cease, Donna Gill, Tomeka Carter.

30 Years of Service Larraine Abbott.

VGCC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration to Include Food Truck Rodeo, Live Music

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Vance-Granville Community College invites the public to join administrators, faculty, students and staff in a celebratory event, sponsored by Duke Energy, in honor of the college’s “50 Years of Excellence Since 1969.”

This “golden” anniversary celebration will include a food truck rodeo on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. at the gazebo of the Main Campus in Henderson (200 Community College Road).

The band “Liquid Pleasure” will also be entertaining the crowd with live music.

*Please note that alcoholic beverages and drugs are strictly prohibited at VGCC. 

VGCC Grad Pursues NCSU Degree Through New Partnership  

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Ethan Cole starts his first semester as a full-time student at North Carolina State University on August 21, making history as a pioneer in a partnership between NCSU and his former school, Vance-Granville Community College.

Cole, who hails from Kittrell, enrolled at VGCC after graduating from Franklin Academy High School in 2017. The next year, VGCC joined N.C. State’s Community College Collaboration, or “C3,” program, and Cole was among the first to sign up. Essentially, that meant he would apply for dual-enrollment and then be guaranteed admission to NCSU to earn a baccalaureate degree, once he had completed an associate degree at VGCC while maintaining good grades.

Ethan Cole (pictured here) starts his first semester as a full-time student at North Carolina State University on August 21, making history as a pioneer in a partnership between NCSU and his former school, Vance-Granville Community College. (VGCC photo)

For Cole, it was an ideal way to pursue a longtime dream. “I already knew I wanted to go to N.C. State when I first enrolled at Vance-Granville,” he said. “I’ve had that goal for many years. My dad went there, we’re Wolfpack fans in my family, and I knew it was a good school for things like business and engineering.”

The new C3 program presented Cole with a chance to get “a foot in the door to the university,” he said. “Not a whole lot of people knew about it at the time, but it seemed like a good avenue to go down, so I went for it.”

Cole completed what he recalled as a straightforward NCSU application process, was accepted, and met with Martha Harmening, the C3 director from the university, for advising. She came to the VGCC campus, so Cole did not even have to drive to Raleigh.

“She helped me to know the right classes for my major,” Cole said. “I told her that, initially, I had been thinking I would study business administration after transferring from VGCC to N.C. State, but then I started thinking about moving to engineering, particularly mechanical engineering. She explained the criteria and the classes I needed to be accepted specifically into the engineering program.”

By enrolling in C3, Cole was technically an NCSU student, even though he was taking VGCC classes. Getting into the competitive engineering program was never guaranteed, however.

After graduating from Vance-Granville with an Associate in Science earlier this year, Cole took a single chemistry class at another community college in order to become eligible for his chosen major. “I’ve now been accepted into the engineering program,” he said. “I am particularly interested in engineering on the automotive side, developing newer, more efficient vehicles.”

With his VGCC credits in hand, Cole is scheduled to graduate from the university in 2022, for a total of five years in higher education.

He feels that the community college has prepared him well for the next level. “One of the best things VGCC has is the atmosphere of being around other students who are focused and trying to do their best, and that keeps you focused, too,” Cole reflected. “Also, the teachers are down to earth and give extra time and attention to their students.”

Cole excelled as a student, earning Presidential Scholar Award-level endowed academic scholarships, making the Dean’s List and working as a peer tutor at the VGCC Academic Skills Center.

Now, he is looking forward to new experiences at N.C. State, continuing to learn and preparing to start a career.

“The C3 program helps students to transfer and to have a guaranteed spot at N.C. State,” Cole said. “I would recommend it to people who want to get a four-year degree, especially if they are still searching for what they want to major in because it gives you some security and another option.”

Students who may apply for C3 include graduating high school seniors as well as current community college students who have completed less than 30 credit hours of college work.

For more information, contact VGCC’s Admissions Office at (252) 738-3234 or click here for additional details on the C3 program.