Warren County students graduate from VGCC summer transportation institute

Nineteen Warren County High School students were recently honored for graduating from the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI), hosted by Vance-Granville Community College’s Warren County Campus. This was the second consecutive year that the institute was offered, in addition to a similar Summer Transportation & Trades Academy held on the campus in 2015.

The three-week summer program was conducted by the college in partnership with Warren County Schools, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The NSTI concluded on June 30, when graduation exercises were held at Warren County High School.

Graduates included WCHS students Jahmad Attucks, Timothy Batchelor, Daniel Braswell, Juan Cervantes, Timothy Edwards, Destiny Hightower, Domilig’e Hunter, Leonte Jiggetts, Dustin Jordan, Quantaya Marion, Zacchaeus Marrow, Nathan Milam, Tavis Mills, RocQuan Perry, James Robinson, Diamond Shaw, Jakayla Simes, Rhasheed Wheeler and Montellus Williams.

Three graduates were recognized with outstanding achievement awards for going “above and beyond”: Attucks, Hightower and Simes.

The ceremony, entitled “Transformation through Transportation III,” began with welcoming remarks by VGCC Warren County Campus Dean Lyndon Hall, who oversaw the NSTI grant project for the college, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Angela Ballentine. Last year, VGCC became the first community college in North Carolina to host a camp through an NSTI grant, under the leadership of recently-retired VGCC Director of Occupational Extension Jean Blaine.

The staff for the camp included coordinator Odessa Perry and assistant coordinator Leslie Dundas, both Warren County educators; and academic aide Peter Marcellas Robinson of Creedmoor, a graduate of the VGCC Electronics Engineering Technology program.

During the graduation ceremony, groups of students made presentations that summarized their experiences during the program, which focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as well as “soft skills” and exploring careers in transportation by land, air and water.

The camp featured a variety of guest presenters. As they learned about workplace safety, students became certified in CPR and first aid by Stephen Barney from the VGCC Emergency Medical Services department. Among the other VGCC faculty and staff teaching sessions were Assistant Director of Financial Aid Jeremy Lambert, Librarian Jennie Davis, Academic Skills Center Coordinator Jason Snelling, College Success & Study Skills Program Head Olu Ariyo and Warren Campus Coordinator/Instructor of Basic Skills Edna Scott.

Students went on several field trips during the program, visiting the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, Hatteras Yacht Manufacturing, Amtrak stations in Durham and Raleigh, and the Carolina Sunrock facility in Butner.

Leigh Dennis, a Certified Equipment Manager (CEM) and manager of fleet services for Carolina Sunrock, was the guest speaker for the graduation ceremony. “What our graduates have accomplished both individually and as a team is impressive,” Dennis said. “It also has great value to them and the transportation industry.” He told the graduates, “In this program, you have met and surmounted the challenges presented to you by your instructors. You have traveled to see and experience some transportation industries at work and, in the process, been introduced to some of the vast opportunity that awaits. With the higher education programs and career paths available in the field of transportation, we are all hopeful that you will keep our industries in mind when deciding what you want to do.”

Dennis said that he had been professionally involved with the construction of transportation infrastructure (earthmoving, road-building, utilities installation and materials production) for 35 years. But even he learned something new when he visited the NSTI camp in Warrenton. “I had told some of my team where I was going that day so when I returned to work, some of them asked jokingly, ‘So, did you learn anything at school today?’ As a matter of fact, I did, I said, at which point I showed them pictures of what you were doing – learning and applying the concept of LED circuitry to arrange a circuit board to first make the lights come on and then program them to blink in succession,” he recalled.

“No one in the room was joking any more. People that have worked in the materials production and delivery part of the transportation industry for years were using words such as ‘incredible’ and ‘amazing’ to describe what they were seeing in the pictures. Activities like this prove that you have been tested in ways that help you see and apply the values of teamwork, collaboration and cooperation,” Dennis said. “When you combine that with field trips to see transportation at work in the real world, you now own what we in the business world refer to as ‘invaluable experience.’ This is a powerful term which, by the way, looks really good on college or employment applications and resumes.” He concluded by saying, “Graduates of the 2017 National Summer Transportation Institute, as a long-time member and representative of the transportation industry, I salute you and wish you well on your journeys to success.”

Also on hand to congratulate the graduates were Federal Highway Administration Civil Rights Program Manager Lynise DeVance, N.C. Department of Transportation Education Initiatives Coordinator JoAna McCoy, and VGCC Vice President of Student Services Dr. Levy Brown.

Each participant attended the camp at no cost and received a stipend based upon their attendance and active participation in camp activities.

VGCC is partnering with the DOT on a number of training initiatives, including a Heavy Equipment Operator course, which is also conducted at the Warren Campus. For more information on that program, contact Lyndon Hall at or (252) 738-3687.

VGCC receives high national rankings

Vance-Granville Community College was recently recognized by a national organization as one of the top ten community colleges in North Carolina, and by another organization as one of the top 20 two-year colleges in the state for online programs. In addition, three of the college’s degree programs have been spotlighted with high rankings, as well.

VGCC placed seventh on the list of the top community colleges in the state published by The website noted that VGCC offers more than 40 programs in the arts and sciences, business and applied technologies, and health sciences. “Though the institution has grown substantially since its founding in 1969,” the organization said, “VGCC still offers its students small classes and individual support from instructors.”
Texas-based was founded in 2012 with the mission of helping prospective students find the college that best meets their needs. Visitors to can find tools and resources to help them succeed throughout their higher education career. Those in the college planning stage can take advantage of college rankings, a searchable database of schools, and financial planning guides.

Meanwhile, the California-based Community for Accredited Online Schools ( ranked VGCC 19th in its list of the “Best Online Schools in North Carolina for 2017.” CFAOS was founded in 2011 to provide students and parents with quality data and information about pursuing an affordable education that has been certified by an accrediting agency.

VGCC has expanded its online course offerings in recent years. In 2015, the college launched the VOLT (Vanguard Online Learning through Technology) initiative, primarily with working adults in mind. Through VOLT, six two-year degree programs are now offered 100-percent online — Associate in Arts and Associate in Science (both also known as “College Transfer”), Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Medical Office Administration – Coding Specialist, and Supply Chain Management. In addition, students can take online courses in combination with traditional face-to-face courses to complete any VGCC degree program.

“We wanted to highlight schools like Vance-Granville Community College, who are providing exceptional education programs online,” said Doug Jones, CEO and Founder of the Community for Accredited Online Schools. “These colleges offer an outstanding educational experience, upholding rigorous accreditation standards and show an overall commitment to maximizing student success.”

The organization went on to single out two programs as among not just the best in the state but in the entire nation. The VGCC Early Childhood Education program was ranked 13th among two-year college programs throughout the United States, while the Information Technology program was ranked 45th in the country.

The VGCC Early Childhood Education program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). VGCC offers not only the two-year associate degree in Early Childhood Education, but also a three-semester diploma program and three certificate options, as well as a certificate in Infant/Toddler Care.

VGCC offers a two-year degree in Information Technology, with “track” options to allow students to specialize in Business Support, Networking & Security Track, Simulation & Game Development, and Web Design & Support. In addition, a two-semester Information Technology diploma program and certificate programs in CISCO Networking, Simulation & Game Development Design Fundamentals and Software Specialist are offered not only to adult learners but also to eligible high school students as a Career and College Promise (CCP) Pathway.

Houston, Texas-based recently ranked the VGCC Criminal Justice Technology program as one of the nation’s 40 most affordable online associate degrees in that field. VGCC’s program came in at number 22 on that list. “In a review of schools across the nation, VGCC’s program stood out in both quality and affordability,” according to Emily Reed of The mission of the organization is to help students find schools and programs that match their educational interests while still being affordable. “Designed to prepare graduates for myriad roles at the county, state, or federal government levels as well as roles at private companies, this all-encompassing degree is an excellent path into either a career or a four-year degree program,” the website stated in describing the VGCC Criminal Justice program. “Requiring the completion of 65 to 66 credits in total, this program emphasizes studies in criminology, criminal law, investigative principles, ethics, and the criminal justice system as a whole.”

Registration is going on now for the fall semester at VGCC, which begins Aug. 14. For more information, visit


Recent VGCC grad featured in career pathways discussion for educators

Educators, local industry representatives, community leaders and a recent Vance-Granville Community College graduate shared ideas at a panel discussion organized on June 21 by the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Alliance (AMSTA), a partnership of VGCC, Granville County Schools, Franklin County Schools, Warren County Schools and Vance County Schools.

The event was part of “AMSTA Summer Cruisers 2017,” a multi-day program that brought teachers from the four counties together to learn more about manufacturing and the regional economy. Day three of the program was held at Franklinton High School and began with greetings from the state’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin, who applauded the participants and said AMSTA is a model for the state.

Next, a discussion on “career pathways” featured panelists Ronnie Goswick, the director of business and economic development at Carolina Sunrock and a former Franklin County economic development director; Arlan Peters, manager of sustainability at Novozymes North America in Franklinton; Eric Breit, director of strategic initiatives for the Capital Area Workforce Development Board; and Thomas Boyd of Henderson, a recent VGCC Mechatronics Engineering Technology program graduate.

Barbara Boyce, representing the Triangle Regional Career Pathways Collaborative (TRCPC), served as the moderator. The collaborative consists of three workforce development boards, five community colleges (including VGCC), ten public school districts and numerous community and industry partners. The primary goal of TRCPC is to develop career pathways to align with the regional labor market and support the regional economy.

Goswick told educators that he hopes K-12 teachers will focus on so-called “soft skills,” good work habits and professionalism, which apply to any type of work. “We can train them on the job skills they will need for a particular job,” he said of new workers at his company. Similarly, Peters said that schools should produce “students who are good thinkers, who can solve a problem,” and said basic science was essential for his company. “Even in jobs that aren’t science-related, you can use your scientific training,” he noted.

Boyd was asked to talk about his pathway. He graduated from Southern Vance High School, worked for a few years, and then enrolled at VGCC, originally intending to study web design. Boyd then switched to the college’s new Mechatronics Engineering Technology degree program, primarily due to his interest in robotics. “Mechatronics is a program that combines different parts of many different fields, a little electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, a little bit of design, and overall industrial maintenance, so you’ve got a little bit of everything to get you started when you’re looking for a job,” Boyd said. “After a year in the program, I was approached about an internship opportunity for a design job at AXIS Corrugated Container, a manufacturer in Butner. I enjoyed taking the design classes, so I took the internship. After I completed the internship, they offered me a full-time job, and I’ve been working there a little over a year now.” In May, he became one of VGCC’s first three Mechatronics graduates.

Boyd said it would be beneficial for younger students to learn generally about how businesses operate, how to network and how to communicate professionally. He added that teachers should explain to students the job opportunities available for students if they earn two-year degrees, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. “Your average high school student thinks they want to go to a four-year school and they’ll automatically get a great job right from the start, but a lot of them don’t realize that you can get a two-year degree and get a really nice-paying job,” Boyd said. “Even if they want to go to a four-year school, doing the two years at a community college first will help them out in the long run. It gives them a good start with a couple years to figure out what they really want to do, and then they can decide on furthering their education somewhere else.”

Breit, representing the workforce development field, said according to the latest research, “the quality of the current and future workforce is now the single most important factor for industry recruitment and retention, so employers want to know about not only current workers but also about the local schools.” He added that the nine Triangle-area counties, including both urban and rural areas, are considered a single labor market, “so it makes sense for workforce development boards, community colleges and public schools throughout the region to put our heads together to see how we can better collectively serve the region, our employers and our students.” Breit said that TRCPC is focused on jobs that are in demand, in the sectors of advanced manufacturing, information technology, life sciences and health care.

After the discussion, a second panel was held to discuss school choice and its impact on the public school systems. Speakers included Dave Machado, director of the Office of Charter Schools at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, and Dr. Deanna Townsend-Smith, assistant director of that office.

Finally, attendees received updates from several guests. Jo Anne Honeycutt, director of Career & Technical Education (CTE) for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said that her department is emphasizing Work-Based Learning (WBL) opportunities and is working on a new high-school-to-college articulation agreement that will help students transfer their high school course credits to colleges. LaTanya Patillio, a former CTE teacher and the new teacher advisor to Gov. Roy Cooper, addressed educators and said that “AMSTA is an example of what public schools are doing right.”

Tresha Layne from the Southern Regional Education Board said that she is working with AMSTA on professional development tied to project-based learning, and praised the partnership for helping the K-12 schools collaborate with VGCC and employers to develop a skilled talent “pipeline.” Sara Lloyd, VGCC’s director of customized training, added that she fields calls from industries about their workforce development needs and helps to connect them to K-12 schools and the college concerning internship opportunities.

Attendees concluded the event by touring Franklinton High School’s Career & Technical Education wing.

For more information on AMSTA, contact Stephanie Ayers at or (919) 316-0026.


VGCC connects students and new graduates to employers

As the end of the spring semester approached, the staff of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program at Vance-Granville Community College held their first-ever “College-to-Career Mixer” for students to meet with potential employers. Not only were 15 new graduates of the Welding Technology and Mechatronics Engineering Technology programs in attendance, but also five students who were not yet ready to graduate but were looking for potential Work-Based Learning (WBL) opportunities.

Prior to the event, college staff members drilled the students on job interview techniques, and some students participated in mock interviews. All received resume preparation assistance and detailed information about the employers who would be in attendance at the mixer. Participating employers included BFS Industries, LLC, of Butner; Bridgestone/Bandag of Oxford; Novozymes North America of Franklinton; Carolina Sunrock of Kittrell and Butner; Trulite Glass & Aluminum Solutions of Youngsville; Glen Raven of Norlina; Delhaize America of Butner; J.P. Taylor/Universal Leaf of Oxford; and Altec of Creedmoor. 

“As we move forward, VGCC will be looking for ways to increase our synergy with our employer partners while providing a robust pipeline for qualified future employees,” said Zane Styers, who manages the TAACCCT grant. “Industry tours, Work-Based Learning, internships and apprenticeships are options that form the framework for our College-to-Career pipeline.”

The $1.75 million TAACCCT grant, the largest single competitive grant in VGCC history, has helped the college develop and enhance innovative training programs for advanced manufacturing careers. The TAACCCT grants are part of a nearly $2 billion initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor to expand targeted training programs for unemployed workers, especially those impacted by foreign trade. For more information on TAACCCT, contact Zane Styers at or (252) 738-3342.


VGCC Receives Largest Grant in School History

CREEDMOOR, N.C.Vance-Granville Community College today announced it received an in-kind software grant from Siemens PLM Software, with a commercial value of $31 million.

The in-kind grant gives students access to the same technology that companies around the world depend on every day to develop innovative products in a wide variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, machinery, shipbuilding, high-tech electronics and many more.

Graduates with this type of software training are highly-recruited candidates for advanced technology jobs.

The in-kind grant was provided by the Siemens PLM Software’s academic program that delivers PLM software for schools at every academic level. Siemens PLM Software is a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services.

The in-kind grant for VGCC includes Siemens PLM Software’sTecnomatix® portfolio, the industry-leading digital manufacturing software.

This is in addition to a previous in-kind grant that included the company’s Solid Edge® software, an intuitive product development platform for accelerating all aspects of product creation, including 3D design, simulation, visualization, manufacturing, and design management.

Both software packages will be used by students in VGCC’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology degree program.

“Vance-Granville Community College would like to thank Siemens PLM Software for this generous grant of advanced engineering software that enables our students to better prepare for successful advanced technology careers,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “By using the same technology in the classroom that is used by companies all over the world to develop a wide variety of products, our students gain important real-world experience during their studies that will serve them well after graduation.”

“Despite an immediate, critical need for qualified technology-trained professionals in manufacturing, our customers have difficulty finding qualified candidates,” said Dora Smith, global director, Academic Partner Program, Siemens PLM Software. “Working with Vance-Granville Community College, Siemens PLM Software is helping prepare students with the knowledge and experience to fill this skills gap and become highly qualified employees.”

About Vance-Granville Community College
Vance-Granville Community College, one of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System, is the local source for higher education and training in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties, north of the Research Triangle. Established in 1969, VGCC today serves students at four campuses (one in each county of the service area) and online. The college offers more than 40 curriculum programs, as well as occupational certifications, continuing education, adult education, customized training for employers and the first two years of a four-year degree. VGCC’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology degree program is based at the college’s South Campus, located near Creedmoor in southern Granville County. For more information, visit


Legal note

Note: Solid Edge and Tecnomatix are trademarks or registered trademarks of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and in other countries.

VGCC Radiography students attend state conference, where instructor receives award

Second-year students in the Radiography program at Vance-Granville Community College attended the recent annual conference of the North Carolina Society for Radiologic Technologists (NCSRT), Inc., at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord.

While at the conference, VGCC Radiography instructor Lewis Daughtry, Jr., was awarded the NCSRT Imaging Professionals for Excellence Award. At each conference, this award recognizes one professional currently working in North Carolina who has made a significant difference to the imaging profession and in the lives of patients, peers, and the community.

Daughtry was secretly nominated for the award by second-year Radiography students for his dedication to the program and its students. “I was surprised and honored when I found out the nomination came from our students,” Daughtry said. “The faculty of the Radiography program at VGCC have a rigorous curriculum to prepare our students for the national registry. To get a show of appreciation from a group that you are challenging to be the best technologists they can be is humbling.”

A resident of Burlington, Daughtry joined the VGCC Radiography program as an instructor in 2013. He continues to also work as a technologist at UNC Hospitals. Daughtry earned his bachelor’s in radiologic science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in business administration at Elon University. He is credentialed by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists in Radiography, Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

“I enjoy teaching because it is a rewarding way to directly impact my profession,” Daughtry reflected. “The radiography profession gives one limitless opportunities to have a positive impact on patient care, as well as numerous pathways to personal and career growth. I have personally been able to enjoy positions that have ranged from x-ray, MRI, CT, IT, management and teaching, all as a result of having a foundation in diagnostic radiography. Through teaching, I not only give others the opportunity to have a gratifying career in a profession I love, but feel an obligation to give the profession that has been so good to me the best possible technologists to keep the profession strong and continue to elevate patient care.”

“On behalf of the NCSRT, Inc. Board of Directors, I would like to personally thank you for your continued, dedicated service to our profession,” Michelle Walden, a board member and faculty member at Fayetteville Technical Community College, wrote in a message to Daughtry. “You are truly a wonderful role model for your students, peers, colleagues, and friends throughout the profession.”

Also during the conference, VGCC students participated in the Radiography Tech Bowl, a quiz bowl-type event that allows students to test their knowledge of radiography concepts against other schools from throughout the state.

The mission of the NCSRT, Inc., founded in 1939 as the North Carolina Society of X-Ray Technicians, is to give health care professionals the knowledge, resources, and support they need to provide quality patient care. The society works to enhance the delivery of radiologic care and to ensure its safety, quality, and efficiency. NCSRT is an affiliate of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

Based at VGCC’s South Campus between Butner and Creedmoor, the two-year Radiography degree program prepares graduates to be radiographers, skilled health care professionals who use radiation to produce images of the human body. For more information on Radiography, contact Dean of Health Sciences Angela Thomas at (252) 738-3397.


Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company endows VGCC Scholarship

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, which has a major manufacturing and distribution facility in Oxford, recently established a new scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College.

For the company, headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the scholarship marks an enhancement of its partnership with the community college. The company was the presenting sponsor of VGCC’s 33rd annual Endowment Fund Golf Tournament in May, which set a new record for fundraising success.

Mike Little, president of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, said his company values VGCC’s important role in economic and workforce development. “It’s important for us at Santa Fe to be involved in our community and supportive of our community,” Little said. “In addition, if we can help prepare people for professional life who might work for us one day, that’s a win-win.” He added that VGCC, particularly through its Continuing Education division, has been helpful to his company. “Vance-Granville has already provided us with great training that has deepened the skills of many of our employees, and we look forward to continuing that partnership,” Little said. 

The “Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Academic Achievement Award” will be the company’s first endowed scholarship at a community college, according to Little. His company is a subsidiary of Reynolds American, which, Little noted, is also interested in philanthropy and supporting higher education. In awarding the new scholarship, preference will be given to students enrolled in programs that help meet the employment needs of manufacturers, such as Welding Technology, Mechatronics Engineering Technology and Business Administration.

“Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company is a strong community partner and supporter of Vance-Granville,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “We are grateful to them for investing in our students and in the future of our region.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 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.


NCCU and VGCC Launch Program for Early Childhood Teachers and Specialists


DURHAM, N.C. – The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Department of Human Sciences and Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC) have signed an agreement to offer two education-related bachelor’s degree programs on the community college campus in Henderson, N.C.

NCCU will provide the second two years of study at VGCC for students with Associate in Applied Science degrees, as well as provide support services and access to NCCU’s resources, such as the Shepard Library on campus. VGCC will recruit qualified students for the two programs and provide classrooms, labs and other resources as needed on campus.

The new offerings include a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education, which typically leads to a teaching certificate for working in preschool and kindergarten programs in North Carolina. The bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Child Development and Family Relations focuses on child development and prepares graduates to work in a variety of settings, including individual and family counseling programs, youth centers, social services, child care agencies and others.

NCCU and VGCC have had an existing partnership for criminal justice majors called Eagle Voyage that started in 2016.

“We are excited about this opportunity to form an additional partnership with Vance-Granville Community College,” said NCCU Interim Chancellor Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye. “Preparing students to educate the youngest and most vulnerable among us is important work. We look forward to seeing these students soar to graduation, so they can begin to educate and inspire the newest generation of North Carolina citizens.”

“We are proud to be expanding our successful partnership with North Carolina Central University to provide new opportunities for our graduates to continue their training as educators and earn a bachelor’s degree here in our community,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “Providing clear academic pathways from the community college to the university level is one important way in which we support our Vanguards so that they can achieve professional success.”

Research has shown that high quality preschool and kindergarten experiences are instrumental in giving children, especially those from economically challenged backgrounds, a better chance to succeed in upper grades and throughout life. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2015 found the ability to master social-emotional skills in kindergarten was linked to adult performance in areas such as educational attainment, employment, criminal activity, substance use, and mental health.

Students who graduate from the four-year Early Childhood Education program must take the N.C. Teaching License exam to work in public schools with preschoolers or kindergarten classes. Prior to graduation, all students must have a directed teaching experience in a public-school kindergarten or a state or nationally accredited early childhood education program.

North Carolina Central University prepares students to succeed in the global marketplace. Flagship programs include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, nursing, education, law, business and the arts. Founded in 1910 as a liberal arts college for African-Americans, NCCU remains committed to diversity in higher education. Our alumni are among the nation’s most successful scientists, researchers, educators, attorneys, artists and entrepreneurs.  Visit


VGCC celebrates Male Mentoring students

The second annual PRIDE awards were presented as the Male Mentoring Success Initiative (MMSI) at Vance-Granville Community College recently held a ceremony to recognize outstanding students who have excelled in the program.

The ceremony, held May 3 at VGCC’s South Campus, began with welcoming remarks from the dean of that campus, Cecilia Wheeler. “Being involved in this program shows that you are leaders,” Wheeler told the students.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Male Mentoring PRIDE awards. As Anthony Pope, co-coordinator for the MMSI, explained, PRIDE stands for “Pin Recognizing Individuals Demonstrating Excellence.” Each honored student received a lapel pin and a certificate.

For their longevity being active in the program, Anthonie Mycal Elam of Warrenton and Jerry Pierce Jr. of Stem received the PRIDE Awards for Tenure.

PRIDE Awards for Engagement went to Johnathan Williamson of Oxford and Christopher Blue of Henderson for being active in the program and bringing in other students.

PRIDE Awards for Athletic Excellence went to three members of the Vanguards men’s basketball team, Christopher Pernell and NiQuan Cousins, both of Raleigh, and TyQuon Reid of Goldsboro.

Blue, Reid and Williamson also received PRIDE Awards for Leadership.

PRIDE Awards for Scholarship were presented to Williamson, Cody Boylorn and Tyler Boylorn, both of Franklinton, Osvaldo Hernandez of Stem, Brian Restrepo and David Restrepo, both of Youngsville,

Hadden Justice of Louisburg, and Francis Scotland of Oxford.

The event also featured by remarks by several students. Justice said he was enrolled in Automotive Systems Technology and became involved in the MMSI after finding out that the group would be taking a trip that included a tour of UNC-Charlotte. Taking the tour helped him decide to transfer to that university in the fall to study Motorsports Engineering after completing his VGCC diploma. Likewise, Scotland said that the MMSI trip gave him a closer look at UNC-Charlotte, where he may be continuing his education in engineering to the master’s level. Scotland recently graduated from the college with both an Associate in Arts and an Associate in Science. He thanked Pope, Academic Skills Center Coordinator Jason Snelling, and the college generally for their support.

Former VGCC student mentee Harold Ragland, who is now a student at North Carolina Central University, returned to speak to the mentoring initiative’s current participants. “Be your own person, and be a leader in the community,” Ragland urged them.

Williamson, a Radiography student who has mentored some of the younger students in the program, said he appreciated the “opportunities for networking and learning” in the MMSI. “Some of the things you get here at VGCC you don’t get at the bigger universities, like the individual help and commitment,” Williamson noted. “We’ve learned in the mentoring program to represent ourselves and our school well.”

Several special guests who had participated in the MMSI speakers’ series during the year offered words of congratulations and encouragement to the students. These included former Harlem Globetrotter James “Twiggy” Sanders, attorney Roderick Allison (who also presented a solo on the trumpet), and attorney and former N.C. District Court Judge Quon Bridges.

In addition to the PRIDE awards, Anthony Pope presented a certificate to every student who actively participated in the program this year. In closing remarks, VGCC Dean of Enrollment & Outreach Jeffrey Allen thanked Pope and co-coordinator Michael Farmer for their efforts to support students.

Supported by a grant from the North Carolina Community College System, the MMSI at VGCC works to help male students stay in school and on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year university. For more information on the mentoring initiative, contact Anthony Pope at or (252) 738-3395.


Former Judge Quon Bridges speaks at VGCC South Campus

Attorney and former N.C. District Court Judge S. Quon Bridges spoke to students, faculty and staff at Vance-Granville Community College’s South Campus as part of a speakers’ series sponsored by the college’s Male Mentoring Success Initiative (MMSI), as the spring semester drew to a close. Among those in the audience were Granville Early College High School students.

Bridges recalled his mother, who had recently passed away at the time he spoke to students. She had encouraged her 11 children to read and to stay out of gangs, he told the audience. Bridges then recalled a harrowing incident from his childhood when he found his mother, injured and bleeding, at home one night.

“She told me that some young men had beaten and robbed her,” Bridges said. “I picked up my baseball bat. I wanted to go look for these guys. But my mother grabbed my arm and said, ‘Son, I can get back what was robbed, but if you go out to get revenge, and you get hurt or get in trouble, I can’t replace you. Don’t be like those young men who did this to me. Make something of your life.’” He added, “I try to encourage all young people to do the same.”

Bridges said that young people need to “feel good about themselves” and avoid illegal drug activity. “You all have potential to do great things in life,” he told his audience. “You’re responsible for yourself. No more excuses! Get out there and do the very best you can do.”

Success, Bridges advised them, will not happen overnight. He talked about how, when he was a child, he and each of his siblings were given a wall in their house, on which they could post what they wanted. He would cut out pictures of courtrooms, lawyers and judges to post on his wall as a way of visualizing his future.

Bridges received his bachelor’s degree from the College of Wooster and his Juris Doctorate from the North Carolina Central University School of Law. He was appointed by former Governor Mike Easley as a district court judge for the 9th Judicial District in 2007. Prior to this appointment, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for 17 years. He began his career working for the North Central Legal Assistance Program before becoming a private practice lawyer. Bridges also is currently a member of the Oxford board of commissioners.

He encouraged students to continue their education, keep working hard and believe in themselves.

Supported by a grant from the North Carolina Community College System, the MMSI at VGCC works to help male students stay in school and on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year university. For more information on the mentoring initiative, contact Anthony Pope at or (252) 738-3395.