VGCC Truck Driver Training

VGCC’s New Truck Driver Training Program Graduates First Class


-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

The new Truck Driver Training, or CDL, program at Vance-Granville Community College began in February, had to be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then later resumed before finally concluding this month. Through all the ups and downs, VGCC officials say that the students in this first class have shown great perseverance and determination.

Jeff Bullock, of Henderson, is just one of many examples of the dedicated students in this class. Bullock, who works as a third shift engineer, earned a 4.0 grade point average and had perfect attendance. “Our highly experienced instructors provided excellent training and information inside and outside the classroom,” said Bullock. “Instructors stressed the importance of how to safely operate tractor-trailers and pay attention to detail during on-the-road training. We had access to recruiters from numerous trucking companies giving us potential job options as well as insight into the trucking industry.”

Students (pictured above) in the first class of VGCC’s new Trucker Driver Training program have completed their DOT exams, making them eligible for their “Class A” Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL-A) and fully employable as truck drivers. (VGCC photo)

Jim Womack, lead instructor for the Truck Driver Training program, said of Bullock, “I’m very proud of Jeff. He was an outstanding student that was never absent and never late for class.”

Student Michael Haskins, of Oxford, is another positive example from the class, who also earned a 4.0 grade point average and had perfect attendance. Instructor Womack noted, “Michael is a great guy and was a big help to the entire class. He was always the first student to offer his assistance to other students.”

Haskins’ philosophy was simple: “No man left behind.” As a result of the challenges caused by COVID-19, Haskins was “willing and determined to do whatever he could do to make sure every student was successful by passing the class and getting their CDL-A license.” He described the class as a “career-changing and exciting experience.” 

Student Kaylin Riley, of Creedmoor, faced challenges that he had to overcome. Womack said that he noticed “Kaylin buckling down and getting really serious about improving his driving skills and techniques – which paid off for him because he successfully completed the course and will be getting his CDL-A Driver License.”

Dawn Tucker, Dean of Continuing Education and College & Career Readiness said “Providing these young men and women the training necessary to start a new and rewarding career gives the college GREAT joy and pride! Their ability to persevere, in the midst of a pandemic, and their commitment to successfully completing all the requirements of the program, are clear indications that the best, for them, is yet to come.”

The program includes a combination of classroom instruction, range driving and road driving. With the end of training on June 25, 2020, students have successfully completed their DOT exams, making them eligible for their “Class A” Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL-A) and fully employable as truck drivers.   

VGCC is scheduled to offer another nine-week class starting in August, with a mandatory orientation on July 29. 

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

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

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

Jeff Bullock, of Henderson, is just one of many examples of the dedicated students in VGCC’s Trucker Driver Training class. Bullock, who works as a third shift engineer, earned a 4.0 grade point average and had perfect attendance. (VGCC photo)

Student Michael Haskins, of Oxford, is another positive example from the Truck Driver class, who also earned a 4.0 grade point average and had perfect attendance. (VGCC photo)

Student Kaylin Riley, of Creedmoor, successfully completed VGCC’s Truck Driver Training course and is now eligible for his CDL-A Driver License. (VGCC photo)


VGCC’s 36th Annual Golf Tournament Set for September

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College is getting ready for its 36th Annual Endowment Fund Golf Tournament, which is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at the Henderson Country Club. The tournament was delayed from its traditional spring date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, Gupton Services, Inc., of Henderson will serve as the event’s presenting sponsor for the first time.

All proceeds from the tournament support the mission of the college and fund student scholarships. 

“Thanks to the incredible generosity of golfers and sponsors from our community, the VGCC golf tournament has raised more than a million dollars since its inception in 1985,” said VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais. “With the strong support of Gupton Services leading the way, we can look forward to another successful event that will give us more resources to support VGCC students.”

Gupton Services is a commercial roofing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company that traces its origins back to 1921 when C.P. Tanner established a sheet metal working plant in Henderson. The business became known as Tanner Roofing and, later, Owen Gupton Roofing. Greg Etheridge, a Henderson native, became its owner and president in 2019. 

“As a local small business, we are happy to take a leadership role in the community and to support Vance-Granville Community College,” Etheridge said. “If you look at the research, the benefits of postsecondary education and skills training to both the individual and our community are enormous. The VGCC Endowment Fund helps make education affordable and accessible to this region, and we must encourage that, in order to promote economic mobility and job security for our citizens.”

Other businesses and individuals supporting the tournament include: Kilian Engineering, the morning round sponsor; Altec, the afternoon round sponsor; MR Williams of Henderson, the scoreboard sponsor; Mast Drug Company, the pharmacy sponsor; Glen Raven of Norlina, the breakfast sponsor; First Citizens Bank Investor Services of Raleigh, the lunch sponsor; Duke Energy, the dinner sponsor; Charles Boyd Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC, the car sponsor; Wester Insurance Agency of Henderson, the driving range sponsor; John Nelms, Jr., of Raleigh, the trophy sponsor; Private Wealth Management of NC of Henderson, the putting green sponsor; Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the soft drink sponsor; “Vanguard Sponsors” Bridgestone Bandag Tire, Carolina Commonwealth, CertainTeed, Coldwell Banker Advantage, Henderson Fruit and Produce, K-Flex, Novozymes North America, Inc., Robling Medical, Rose Oil Company and Universal Leaf North America U.S., Inc.; “Platinum Sponsors” Core & Main, Henderson Collegiate, Union Bank and Variety Wholesalers; and Vanco Outdoor Equipment, the tractor sponsor.

Businesses and individuals can still take advantage of sponsorship opportunities at various levels. Businesses may also donate products or premium items featuring the company’s logo to be placed in golfers’ gift bags or to be given as door prizes.

This year’s morning and afternoon rounds will begin with shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and at 1 p.m. The afternoon round is sold out, but there are openings in the morning round.

The format is four-person “Captain’s Choice Super Ball.” Golfers can form their own teams of four, or sign up and be put on a team. Teams will be handicapped based on handicaps supplied by each player. Trophies will be awarded for first net, second net and first gross. Other awards will be given for “closest to the pin” and “longest drive.”

A hole-in-one on Hole 9 will be rewarded with a car, courtesy of Charles Boyd Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC. A player who hits a hole-in-one (with a $10 donation) on Hole 16 will win $5,000, while another $5,000 will be awarded to the VGCC Endowment Fund.

The cost for one golfer to enter the tournament is $150. That fee includes greens fees, cart, meals, gift bag and practice balls.

A light breakfast, lunch and dinner (immediately following the afternoon round) will be served in the HCC clubhouse. A silent auction and door prize drawings will be held in conjunction with dinner.

For more information, contact Kay Currin at or (252) 738-3409.

Anne Tanner Berry Scholarship

New VGCC Scholarship Endowed in Memory of Anne Tanner Berry


-Press Release and photo, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund board member Marshall Tanner and his wife, Martha, recently established a new scholarship at the college in memory of their daughter. 

VGCC will award the Anne Tanner Berry Memorial Academic Achievement Scholarship to a student in a medical field, with a preference for second-year students who are older than the “traditional” college age. VGCC Health Sciences programs include Nursing, Histotechnology, Medical Assisting, Pharmacy Technology and Radiography.

“When Anne was in her twenties, she was diagnosed with diabetes, a diagnosis that changed her life and shortened it,” Marshall Tanner said. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 54. “Over the years, Anne was blessed to have many loving and caring healthcare professionals at her side through one health crisis after another,” Tanner continued. “Along with her husband, Tim, and her sisters, Cecelia, Lea and Beverly, we know Anne would be pleased that from this memorial scholarship, many others may join the ranks of Healthcare Heroes.”

Anne Tanner Berry

Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund board member Marshall Tanner and wife, Martha, recently established a new scholarship at the college in memory of their daughter, Anne Tanner Berry (pictured above – photo courtesy Anne’s family).

An alumna of Middle Tennessee State University and Oglethorpe University, Anne enjoyed a successful professional career in property management in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia. She was considered a leader and teacher in all her positions and was a regional vice president of her last employer. She had the ability to train and assist other employees to meet and exceed their goals and was recognized with several awards for her management skills and leadership talents.

“Anne had a very outgoing personality; she never met anyone who did not have a positive first impression of her,” her father recalled. “Her ability to interact in a warm, caring way enabled her to develop and maintain life-long friendships with many people.”

Marshall Tanner spent his career in the manufacturing sector, retiring in 2010 as a Vice President of Bridgestone Bandag. He moved to Oxford in 1991 to manage the local Bandag plant and has been active in the community ever since. Bridgestone Bandag is a longtime corporate supporter of VGCC, and Tanner has played in many VGCC Endowment Fund golf tournaments over the years. He joined the college’s Endowment Fund board of directors in 2017.  

“I became involved with supporting VGCC many years ago. I saw that the college provided an accessible educational outlet to local people who did not want to go away to a university but instead start their higher education right here,” Tanner said. “Playing in the VGCC golf tournament was a positive way to promote the college while raising money to provide more scholarships to help people get the job training that they needed. The recent addition of truck driver training is a prime example. Vance-Granville is a wonderful school, led by people who are thinking long-term about what our community will need in the future.” 

“We are honored that the Tanners would remember Anne in such a meaningful way, by supporting hard-working VGCC students who are pursuing careers of service in healthcare,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, the community college president. 

“Martha and Marshall Tanner are outstanding citizens and strong supporters of Vance-Granville,” added VGCC Endowment Director Eddie Ferguson. “This new scholarship serves as a fitting tribute to their beloved Anne, and will help students in her name for years to come.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 9,700 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.

Jacob Comer

VGCC Student Receives Top Academic Honor 

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College student Jacob A. Comer of Rougemont was recently named the recipient of the North Carolina Community College System’s Academic Excellence Award for 2020. One student from each of the 58 colleges in the state system is honored with the award each year. 

Comer, a home-schooled high school student, has taken college transfer classes at VGCC through the “Career & College Promise” program since 2018. He took classes not only in the fall and spring semesters but also in the summer, thus reducing the time it would take him to complete an Associate in Arts degree. Twice, he has made the VGCC President’s List, which recognizes students who achieved a perfect 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) while carrying a least 12 curriculum credit hours per semester.

Jacob Comer of Rougemont is the VGCC recipient of the North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award for 2020. (VGCC Photo)

Recently, Comer completed his VGCC classes, meaning that he is now a high school graduate and a graduate of the community college. During his last semester, he continued to excel even while taking on extra responsibilities at home to help his family as his mother recovered from a major medical operation.

While at VGCC, Comer was not only focused and determined to reach his own academic goals, but he also helped other students with science, math and writing, as a peer tutor for the college’s Academic Success Center. 

Soon, with the college transfer credits and enhanced confidence he gained at VGCC, Comer will continue his education at Concordia University Wisconsin. He intends to complete a bachelor’s degree, double-majoring in Applied Theology and Theological Languages.

“We are proud that Jacob has been recognized among North Carolina’s outstanding community college students, and we congratulate him on his success,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, the president of VGCC. “At a young age, Jacob is off to a strong start in his educational journey, and with his perseverance and dedication to academics, we are sure he will continue to excel.”


Vance County Schools Recognizes VGCC With Partnership Award

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance County Schools recently recognized Vance-Granville Community College with the 2019-2020 “Partnership of the Year” award for collaborating with Vance County Early College High School (VCECHS).

“We are pleased to be able to partner with Vance County Early College and the entire school system,” VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais said, in accepting the award on behalf of the college faculty and staff. “An important part of our student body, Early College students enrich our campus community, and we have the privilege of helping them achieve their goals.” 

VGCC worked closely with the school system in 2008 to start the Early College High School, and it has been housed on the community college’s Main Campus near Henderson ever since.

VCECHS is a five-year high school experience that offers students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma along with an Associate in Arts and/or Associate in Science degree, or at least some college transfer credits, tuition-free.

Early College programs provide affordable, accessible pathways to four-year university degrees for many students. In addition, VGCC offers other “Career and College Promise” (CCP) pathways to students at traditional high schools – allowing them to earn college credits, as well.

“We are extremely grateful for your partnership work with Vance County Schools,” Aarika Sandlin, the system’s public information officer, wrote in a letter to the college. “Without devoted community members, churches and organizations, our system would not be the same. We appreciate all that you have done for our schools and our students this year. We are so proud of all you have done to make a difference, making us all Vance County Proud!”


Enrollment Numbers Up for VGCC’s Summer Term

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Vance-Granville Community College has been working diligently to educate more students this summer. The hard work is paying off.

As of the beginning of the summer semester in late May, VGCC had 1,228 students enrolled in credit programs. That represents an estimated 11% increase compared to the beginning of the summer 2019 semester when enrollment stood at 1,101. The college is likewise experiencing an estimated 30% increase in the number of student hours completed, typically known as Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) enrollment.  

A significant source of enrollment for this summer is in both the college transfer and technical and trades credit program areas. VGCC also has a healthy number of special credit students from four-year universities taking classes. 

“We are pleased to see the trend for increased enrollment at VGCC continue into this summer semester,” VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais stated. “We are here to serve our community and are rising to the challenge of providing increased access to quality online learning during the pandemic. We look forward to offering more in-person instruction this fall as we help our community members pivot during this uncertain economy.”

“The college’s Student Engagement & Success team, faculty, marketing and many people have contributed to this effort. We are glad to see the college educating more students in the four-county area and the wider region. Our team is committed to being innovative and thinking about the best ways to provide quality instruction and support services to those who choose Vance-Granville. When students learn with us, they are ready for the workforce and/or success at a senior institution,” said Dr. Levy Brown, the college’s vice president of learning, student engagement and success. “Student access, retention, success and career preparation are embedded in our mindset, and it continues to show!”

Students are encouraged to apply and register for Fall 2020 now.

Established in 1969, VGCC offers more than 40 credit programs, in which students work toward certificates, diplomas and degrees. Area residents and businesses can also take advantage of a variety of continuing education/job training opportunities, as well as the High School Equivalency and Adult High School Diploma programs. High school students can 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. The new “Vanguard Flex” program is offering flexible, hybrid schedules in the evenings and weekends on the Franklin Campus in Louisburg, to accommodate schedules for adult learners. 

For more information about the college, visit

VGCC Biotech Students Participate in Virtual Career Fair

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Students studying biotechnology at Vance-Granville Community College recently joined their counterparts from a handful of other colleges in a career fair that was tailor-made for the current state of social distancing and video-conferencing. 

On May 14, nine VGCC Bioprocess students participated – from their homes – in the first in a planned series of Virtual Career Fairs organized by the BioNetwork, part of the N.C. Community College System. Representatives of several North Carolina biopharmaceutical companies talked with students, including Biogen, Catalent, KBI, Guerbet, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and Seqirus, along with staffing agencies like Adecco, Manpower and Spectraforce. 

“This innovative event represented an outstanding partnership of Vance-Granville staff, the BioNetwork and the private sector,” said Stewart Lyon, who heads VGCC’s Biotech programs, based at the college’s Franklin County Campus. “Although the full results are still being tabulated, we know that our students were able to speak with an average of six employers during the event, and one student spoke with 13 potential employers!  Some participants have also confirmed that they have received invitations to formal job interviews from the event.”

VGCC not only made this opportunity available to students but also helped prepare them ahead of time, so they could present themselves in the best professional light. Lyon, VGCC Director of Career Services Linda Fletcher and BioNetwork staff all helped review the students’ resumes before the event. In fact, having an “approved” resume was a requirement for students to participate. Lyon and Fletcher continue to offer such services to students, to help them secure good jobs after they complete their studies. 

Enrollment for the Fall 2020 semester is going on now for the Bioprocess Technology program. VGCC offers a Bioprocess Technology certificate, which can be completed in as little as six months (combining online coursework with labs meeting only once per week); a diploma program, which takes about one year, and the two-year Associate in Applied Science degree. All these options are eligible for federal financial aid to qualified students. 

Lyon also points out that students have options to continue their education beyond VGCC, particularly through new transfer opportunities. Students seeking four-year degrees can transfer to North Carolina Central University and East Carolina University through special articulation agreements.

For more information on VGCC’s biotech programs, contact Mr. Lyon at or 252-738-3632.

Prospective students are also encouraged to check the college website,, and the Facebook page – – this summer for announcements on upcoming Biotech information sessions.

Vance-Granville Community College Holds Virtual ADN Pinning Ceremony

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

A virtual pinning ceremony was held using Zoom on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 6 p.m., for the Vance-Granville Community College Associate Degree Nursing Class of 2020. 

The family and friends of the 43 graduates were sent a link to the Zoom session so that they could watch the pinning ceremony, which opened with welcoming reflections from Dr. Levy Brown, VGCC Vice President of Learning, Student Engagement & Success/Chief Academic Officer; Dr. Anna Seaman, VGCC Associate Degree Nursing Program Head; and Henrry Rebollar-Miguel, class president.

Dr. Seaman noted that 2020 is the ‘Year of the Nurse’ and that no one could have imagined what this year would actually mean for Nursing. She noted that these graduates would soon put on their ‘superhero costumes’ and enter into the workforce.

Jamie Davis, VGCC Nursing instructor, presented cords to students who participated in the VGCC Student Nurses Association, which is a chapter of the National Student Nurses Association.

Maggie King-Harris, VGCC Nursing instructor, recognized those students graduating with honors (a GPA of 3.5 or higher). Those recognized include Reuben Aluoch; Jessica Baker; Susan Carr; Michelle Harris-Evans; and Stephanie Parham. Raine Tucker-Smith was recognized as the graduate with the highest GPA in the class.

Brande McILroy shared the story of the VGCC Nursing Pin and graduates were then ‘handed’ their pin virtually by Dr. Seaman. As each graduate received their pin, they shared where they planned to work; their plans for continuing their education; and their appreciation to family, friends and faculty for their support during their time in school. 

After receiving their pins, the graduates recited the Nursing Pledge (written by Beverly Hansen O’Malley, RN) with Vanessa Ramseur, VGCC Nursing Instructor. Ugur Celimli, VGCC Nursing Instructor, presented the class as official graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing Class of 2020. 

Even though the ceremony was not able to be held on the VGCC campus, as traditionally done, the graduates remarked that it was still a meaningful and memorable way to mark the end of their nursing school journey at VGCC.

The graduates are:

From Henderson: Bridget Eaton, Cassidy Ivey, Cayla Ranes

From Oxford: Tammie Davis, Taneisha Jordan, Erica Thorpe, Hannah Tuck

From Creedmoor: Eunice Ayaa, Caliegh Katz

From Louisburg: Brittany Sullivan, Shanika Upchurch

From Rolesville: Raine Tucker-Smith

From Zebulon: Joshua Miller

From Raleigh: Aniekan Akpan, Reuben Aluoch, Elizabeth Kenney, Dennis Mutisya, Andrew Zambrano

From Durham: Charles Ngeve, Annah Ongeri, Abigail Rodriguez, Solange Tant, Hser Tha

From Franklinton: Henrry Reboccar-Miguel

From Holly Springs: Irene Solomon

From Apex: Rebekah Speed 

From Wake Forest: Jessica Baker, Christopher Ellis, Anne Onsomu

From Macon: Tracey Brown

From Bullock: Brittany Buchanan

From Rougemont: Susan Carr, Branice Chogo, Cherrie Satterfield

From Hollister: Tiara Daniel

From Youngsville: Patrisha Ferrick, Michelle Harris-Evans, Sheniqua Pruden, Wyverta Rawls

From Kittrell: Diedre Joyner, Stephanie Parham, Rachel Spall 

From Norlina: Chiatyra Turner

In lieu of the class picture that is normally taken before the ceremony, graduates were asked to submit personal photos to be used in making a class collage that will be posted on the VGCC website.

VGCC ADN Pinning

Pictured from left: Reuben Aluoch; Eunice Ayaa; Jessica Baker; Tracey Brown; Brittany Buchanan; Susan Carr; Branice Chogo; Tiara Daniel; Tammie Davis; Bridget Eaton; Christopher Ellis; Michelle Harris-Evans; Patrisha Ferrick; Cassidy Ivey; Taneisha Jordan; Deidre Joyner; Caliegh Katz; Elizabeth Kenney; Shanika UpChurch-McBride and Henrry Rebollar-Miguel.

VGCC ADN Pinning

Pictured from left: Charles Ngeve; Annah Ongeri; Anne Onsomu; Stephanie Parham; Sheniqua Pruden; Cayla Raynes; Wyverta Rawls; Abigail Rodreguiz; Cherrie Satterfield; Raine Tucker-Smith; Irene Solomon; Rebekah Speed; Solange Tant; Hser Tha; Erica Thorpe; Hannah Tuck; Chiatrya Turner and Andrew Zambrano.

Not Pictured in either collage — Aniekan Akpan, Jr.; Joshua Miller; Dennis Mutisya; Rachel Spall, and Brittany Sullivan.

VGCC Nursing Chair Erica Jastrow Earns Doctorate

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Erica Jastrow, Vance-Granville Community College’s department chair of Nursing, received a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education Leadership from Arizona-based Grand Canyon University. Jastrow is a resident of Oxford. 

Erica Jastrow, VGCC’s department chair of Nursing, received a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education Leadership from Arizona-based Grand Canyon University. (Photo courtesy VGCC)

“We congratulate Dr. Jastrow on this milestone in her life, and we applaud Erica’s commitment to professional development,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, VGCC’s president. “Erica’s education will allow her to continue to grow as a leader in higher education and provide services that help our students.”

Jastrow has taught at VGCC since 2004 and became head of the Nursing department in 2011. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Lenoir-Rhyne University and later completed a master’s degree in Nursing Education at UNC-Greensboro. As a longtime Registered Nurse, Jastrow has experience in Intensive Care Units and Nursing Supervision in local and teaching hospitals. 

In 2013, Jastrow became a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) through the National League for Nursing (NLN). She was one of the first three VGCC Nursing faculty to become certified through this program.

In 2014, she completed the Department Chairs Institute offered by the N.C. Community College System, in collaboration with N.C. State University. Jastrow is a past recipient of the VGCC President’s Leadership Award.


Town Talk 05/18/20: VGCC Dean Gardner-Ragland Discusses ‘New Normal’ in Education

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Angela Gardner-Ragland, dean of Business and Applied Technologies at Vance-Granville Community College, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Monday at 11 a.m.

With 24 years of experience at VGCC, Gardner-Ragland currently oversees an area of approximately 20 business and applied technology programs including Accounting, Business Administration, Automotive, Heating & Air and Welding. Many of these programs offer two-year associate degrees, one-year diplomas and certificates.

With the majority of these programs being heavy on technology, Gardener-Ragland said VGCC must stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive.

“Technology is forever changing, and we have to change with it,” stated Gardner-Ragland. “Recently, we have faced the challenge of moving our vocational programs online. As you can imagine, doing automotive, welding or heating and air online can be a challenge. We have excellent faculty and staff who are willing to go above and beyond to ensure our students are still getting that hands-on experience they need for the workforce.”

With COVID-19 requiring many in the workforce to operate remotely, Gardner-Ragland said the college is preparing for an even greater demand for online classes. “Our mindset has to change. We are going to have to be willing to grow and do more online, especially if we are going to meet industry needs and remain competitive. I do think, especially with the pandemic, that there is going to be a new normal in education.”

Gardner-Ragland gave credit to her staff for making informed decisions on needed resources and said she is grateful for recent grants that made the purchase of new equipment and technology possible “without passing the costs on to the students.”

In an example of VGCC’s stackable credentials model where one program builds on another, Gardner-Ragland said the new Truck Driver Training, while not in her area, has crossover potential with an associate degree program in the Business and Applied Technology department.

“My hope its once they complete the training and have been on the job for a little bit, they’ll come back and enroll in our two-year Supply Chain Management with Trucking Operations Management track, which is a completely online program,” said Gardner-Ragland.

To hear the interview with Gardner-Ragland in its entirety, go to and click on Town Talk.