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

— press release

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

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

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

For more information, please visit our webpage:

(This is not sponsored content.)

Local News Audio

WIZS Noon News Audio 01-06-21: VGCC; Property Tax; Farmers Market; Weather

The WIZS Noon News Audio with stories including:

  • Registration Deadline for VGCC Spring Classes
  • Property Tax Deadline
  • Vance County Regional Farmers Market Advisory Committee Meeting
  • Police News
  • Weather/Snow


Local News Audio

Noon News 12-22-20 United Way; VGCC CDL Program; Granville Co. Holiday Schedule


Stories include:

– United Way presents grant checks to local organizations

– 100% Graduation rate for Vance Granville Community College CDL Program

– Granville Co. Government holiday schedule

For full details and audio click play.


TownTalk 12-21-20 Brian “Doc” Miller, Vance Granville Community Band, And More

Brian “Doc” Miller is experiencing a case of Sousa rehearsal withdrawal. This condition, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, is not affecting Miller’s enthusiasm for teaching and conducting musicians. And that’s a good thing, because he can’t wait to get the band back together.

In this case, the “band” is the Vance Granville Community Band. Miller is the band’s director, as well as the music instructor at the community college and Crosscreek Charter School in Louisburg. When the group can gather again for practice, Miller says the rehearsal room is just as they left it back in February. “We had to cancel rehearsals just abruptly…all the music left in the folders, the room set up ready for the next rehearsal,” Miller recalled during a recent interview on Town Talk. What Miller thought would be a hiccup of a couple of weeks has turned into a months-long hiatus. He holds out some hope that the band can resume in some fashion in the springtime.

“It’s been a real bummer,” Miller said, “because I certainly miss it.” The “it” is the regular Monday evening gatherings to rehearse together. “We play the good ol’ Sousa marches,” which he and the band enjoy performing, along with other classical and old standards. The band combines VGCC music students (the school offers four Band classes) and adults from the community who still enjoy playing a musical instrument. Normally, the group practices from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday evenings. “It’s the highlight of my week,” said Miller. The camaraderie and shared love of music is something very special to this group. Former students of Miller also have joined the group over the years, which Miller finds rewarding.

He took over as the band’s conductor around the time he retired from teaching music at Louisburg High School. “I was missing conducting the fancy stuff, the good ol’ Sousa marches, the old-fashioned stuff that I love so much,” Miller said. “It felt like a seamless transition from Louisburg High to Vance-Granville, he added. “It’s just been a joy to work with the folks (at VGCC).”

Written story continues below…

To hear TownTalk with Brian Miller and host Bill Harris, click play…

The music program has grown over the years, both in the curriculum courses offered and the community band itself. Miller remembers going taking a smaller group to play at a nursing home in Warren County and offering music as a prelude to the Warrenton Christmas parade. Smaller programs like that, in addition to concerts like the 2019 Christmas program at MacGregor Hall in Henderson are what Miller recalls as highlights. “I just miss it tremendously, and I just hope to pick up where we left off” before rehearsals were cancelled. “We’re not abandoning it,” he said, “just suspending time for a little bit.”

Despite all the things that the pandemic restrictions have shut down, Miller maintains a positive attitude. “One of the things that COVID has taught us, the things we took for granted before, we’re not going to take for granted again,” he said. The weekly rehearsals, the performances, even the daily high school band practices are on the list of things not to be taken for granted again.

Because the charter school is operating on an A Day/B Day schedule, he is able to do some in-person teaching. Other students receive remote instruction. “I’ve had to learn how to teach online and even try to do a band rehearsal online,” Miller said, adding “that’s actually kinda fun!”

Sure, there are time lags and it isn’t always easy. “We couldn’t really get beyond whole notes,” Miller admits, and playing a piece of music together via computer isn’t possible for the students. “You learn to adapt,” he said. “I never thought I’d be doing lessons online. But you make adjustments in life.”

One positive outcome is how Miller is able to evaluate students. They record themselves playing their instrument and he can then listen and respond to them with specific feedback about tone quality and other aspects of their performance.

Miller said he always thought he was too old-fashioned to utilize some of the technology in his instruction. But learning about the online resources available to him and his students is something that he can continue using once they can resume in-person learning. “It’s actually very efficient, so we’ll learn a little something” from the pandemic restrictions.

He has always enjoyed teaching the traditional music, full of beautiful melody and tone. Whether it’s a Sousa march or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Miller explained, students love to re-create the music. He said he has sometimes felt like a lone voice of sorts when it comes to teaching and performing traditional or classical music. It’s not that it’s intellectual or anything, he noted, “it’s just good music.”

Miller recognizes differences in teaching new learners versus rehearsing with older, more experienced musicians. Students in high school have other obligations that can eat into valuable rehearsal time, which the community band members may not have, he noted. “But music is music, no matter the level,” he said. Fifth-graders can learn about good tone quality and how to support a note with sustained air pressure, but the VGCC Community Band members also begin their rehearsals with breathing exercises. Same concept, different level of experience.

The secret? Teaching the team concept is the key to success, whether he is working with a high school concert band or the VGCC Community Band.

“I can wave my baton all I want to and if the musicians haven’t taken the motivation” to do their part,” he said, the team will not be successful. “What we do in rehearsal is put it together – we work on balance and intonation, those things that happen when people are together. It’s the same thing I taught in high school:  band…(is) the ultimate team activity. When everybody does their part well, then we all enjoy. When someone doesn’t do their part, we all suffer.”

VGCC forms new partnership with UNC Wilmington

–press release courtesy of VGCC

Vance-Granville Community College continues to show its commitment to building partnerships that provide meaningful pathways for students seeking to transfer to a four-year university. Recently, VGCC solidified a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). The UNCW & VGCC “Pathways to Excellence” program will provide transfer students from the community college with guaranteed admission to UNCW.

VGCC is one of a host of community colleges from various regions across the state to sign on as a part of the Pathways to Excellence program with UNCW due to the quality of education that transfer students will receive at the institution. VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais and UNCW Chancellor Dr. Jose V. Sartarelli inked the partnership agreement, and expressed enthusiasm about how it will benefit students.

“The co-admission agreement between VGCC and UNCW is a fine example of innovation and collaboration,” said Dr. Desmarais, president of the community college. “We look forward to helping our Vanguards achieve their academic and career goals by continuing their education as UNCW Seahawks.”

Pathways to Excellence guarantees admission to UNCW for students completing an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in transferable, college-level coursework from VGCC. As a part of the agreement, VGCC students will have access to a Transfer Student Success Coordinator that will meet with students at Vance-Granville throughout each semester. Students will have the benefit of working with their VGCC advisor and the Transfer Student Success Coordinator from UNCW. VGCC students will have the opportunity to attend an open house event, as well as an application event in the spring on the community college campus, and will receive a university application fee waiver as a transfer student.

“We are elated to partner with UNCW on the Pathways to Excellence program,” said Dr. Levy Brown, VGCC’s vice president of learning, student engagement and success. “This is another example of our dedicated team seeking opportunities to provide multiple pathways to success for students. The goal is for our transfer students to receive an excellent experience at VGCC and move on to the University of their Choice. It is wonderful that this UNCW program is now an option for students in our communities!”

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this guaranteed admission partnership between VGCC and UNCW, please call VGCC at (252) 738-3234. If you are interested in enrolling at VGCC, please apply at or call (252) 738-3234.


(VGCC is a paying advertising client of WIZS and  This is not a paid ad.)

Pete Burgess

New VGCC Scholarship Honors Pete Burgess

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

The Vance County chapter of the North Carolina Farm Bureau recently presented a gift to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund to create a new scholarship in honor of Talmadge R. “Pete” Burgess, Sr.

Now retired and living with his wife, Sylvia, in Durham, Pete Burgess was for decades a Vance County farmer and community leader. He was instrumental in establishing the Vance County Regional Farmers Market, which opened in 2014.

Pete Burgess

The Vance County chapter of the North Carolina Farm Bureau recently presented a gift to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund to create a new scholarship in honor of Talmadge R. “Pete” Burgess, Sr., pictured above. (Photo courtesy VGCC)

After growing up on a Vance County farm, Burgess went to N.C. State University to study agricultural engineering on an ROTC scholarship, and then served in the United States Army. He worked as a safety engineer in the insurance industry for several years but returned to Vance County in 1968 to run a farm that had been in his wife’s family. At “Burgess Farms,” he grew tobacco, grain, hay and sweet corn, among other crops.

An active community volunteer, Burgess served as a board member of the county and state Farm Bureau organizations, president and board member of the Epsom Lions Club, board member of the Epsom Volunteer Fire Department, member of the Vance County Planning Board and board member for the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce. For his contributions to the county and, in particular, for his leading role in securing the land and funding for the regional farmers market, Burgess was honored by the Vance County Commissioners with the “Community Hero” award.

“We are proud to establish this scholarship to express our appreciation to Pete Burgess for his many years of service to the Farm Bureau, the farming community and Vance County as a whole,” said Thomas Shaw, president of the Vance County Farm Bureau, which Burgess once led. “A great storyteller and advocate, Pete has been instrumental in supporting and bringing together many local partners for the benefit of us all, including our local schools, the Cooperative Extension service, the Perry Memorial Library and the regional Farmers Market.”

The new gift continues a tradition of the organization’s generous support for education. Years ago, the Vance County Farm Bureau endowed an academic achievement scholarship at VGCC, which supports a student each year.

“Throughout his life, Pete Burgess has demonstrated an interest not only in agriculture but in giving back and supporting his community, so this scholarship is a fitting way to honor his service,” said Eddie Ferguson, VGCC’s endowment fund director. “We are grateful to the Vance County Farm Bureau for continuing to support Vance-Granville students through this new scholarship.”

“At Vance-Granville, our students are the Vanguards, which means they are ‘leaders,’ and Pete Burgess is the definition of a leader,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, the president of VGCC. “Thanks to the Vance County Farm Bureau, we can look forward to awarding the Pete Burgess scholarship to future leaders who can follow in his footsteps.”

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.

The Vance County Farm Bureau is encouraging friends of Pete Burgess to make donations to the Endowment Fund to help endow this scholarship at the Presidential Merit Award level. For more information or to make a contribution, call Kay Currin at (252) 738-3409.

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

Antoinette Dickens

VGCC’s Dickens Receives Statewide Award for Work-Based Learning


-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Antoinette C. Dickens, Department Chair of Public Service and Work-Based Learning Coordinator for Vance-Granville Community College, was recently named the winner of the North Carolina Work-Based Learning Association (NCWBLA) Jon A. Young Award for 2020. This award recognizes the outstanding NCWBLA member of the year, one who exemplifies the ideals of Work-Based Learning by making significant contributions to the mission and goals of the association.

Work-Based Learning (WBL) is an academic program at VGCC that combines classroom studies with on-the-job, career-related work experience. The goal is to provide students with not only the curriculum to succeed but also with the hands-on and on-site experience they will need to succeed in the workforce.

Antoinette Dickens holds her plaque for the NCWBLA Jon A. Young Award. (Photo courtesy VGCC)

“We congratulate Antoinette for being recognized at the state level for her talents and her contributions to Work-Based Learning,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. “She has revised and streamlined the WBL processes at VGCC, helping our students gain skills and prepare for promising careers.”

A resident of Rolesville, Dickens has served as the WBL Coordinator at VGCC since 2016. Under her leadership, the Work-Based Learning program saw a 27% increase in student hours completed from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020. In her other role at the college, Dickens provides leadership for several curriculum programs: Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education and Paralegal Technology.

She has served in leadership roles at the NCWBLA, as an at-large board member and as Treasurer.

“WBL is an experiential class/program that provides students with the opportunity to apply theories and skills learned in class to the workplace,” Dickens noted. “It is a win-win-win situation for all parties involved! First, students are able to gain experience and work skills needed to be successful in their careers. Second, employers benefit from having students and graduates who possess the skills and education to successfully meet their employment needs. And third, VGCC benefits from WBL in that it allows the college to forge new community relationships, or strengthen existing ones.”

Dickens started her higher education at VGCC, earned a Paralegal Certificate from the American Institute of Paralegal Studies, and later completed a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies at North Carolina Wesleyan College, and a master’s degree in human services counseling: criminal justice at Liberty University.

She has held a variety of positions in the justice system, as a Deputy Clerk of Superior Court in Vance County, a legal assistant in the District Attorney’s office in Oxford, a juvenile court counselor, and a paralegal working for law firms in Louisburg, Warrenton and Raleigh. Dickens was an instructor for VGCC’s Criminal Justice Technology program from 2004 through 2010. She rejoined VGCC in 2013 as the first person to head the college’s Paralegal Technology program.

For more information on participating in WBL at VGCC, contact Dickens at (252) 738-3609 or

Local News Audio

Noon News 12-8-20 Covid19 News; Enhanced Rail; Granville Co. Schools; VGCC Degree Program

Stories include:
– Latest Covid19 statistics

–  community testing event

– enhanced rail service possibly coming to Henderson

– Granville County Schools

– VGCC partner with Elizabeth City State for degree program

For full details and audio click play



VGCC Solidifies Partnership With North Carolina A&T State University

100.1 FM ~ 1450 AM ~ WIZS, Your Community Voice ~ Click to LISTEN LOCAL

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College continues to build new partnerships that support transfer student success with senior institutions in North Carolina.

Earlier this semester, VGCC solidified a partnership with North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. The North Carolina A&T ‘Aggie Plus’ agreement provides students with guaranteed admission to the university and promotes the success of transfer students seeking to earn a baccalaureate degree.

The co-admission agreement represents innovations that are being put into place by community colleges and universities in NC. VGCC is one of a growing number of community colleges to partner with NCA&TSU on the Aggie Plus Program. VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais and NCA&TSU Chancellor Dr. Harold Martin signed off on the partnership effort, and now students will benefit.

As a part of the agreement, VGCC students will receive career, financial aid and academic counseling from assigned N.C. A&T and VGCC advisors. Following completion of the associate degree, Aggie Plus participants will receive priority review in the final N.C. A&T admissions process. The application fee for Aggie Plus participants will be waived and students will engage in an Aggie Plus program orientation session at VGCC. Further, N.C. A&T will organize at least one Aggie Plus program visit day to N.C. A&T each year.

“Our college continues to be intentional about providing multiple pathways to success for students. The Aggie Plus Program is yet another example. Ultimately, N.C. A&T provides a quality education for students in many areas including STEM. VGCC students will benefit from this opportunity!” said Dr. Levy Brown, VGCC’s vice president of learning, student engagement and success.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the Aggie Plus Program, please contact our staff at (252) 738-3234. Further, if you are interested in applying for general admissions to the college, please apply at or call (252) 738-3234.

Elizabeth City State University

VGCC Forms New Partnership With Elizabeth City State University


-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Faculty, staff, and leaders from Vance-Granville Community College and Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) recently attended a virtual signing ceremony to formalize an agreement that creates new opportunities for students from the community college to complete bachelor’s degrees.

The co-admission agreement, which is designed to improve transfer student access and success through a collaborative baccalaureate degree program, was signed by ECSU Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon and VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais.

“ECSU continues to collaborate with North Carolina community colleges to afford transfer students a greater opportunity to earn their undergraduate degrees,” Chancellor Dixon said in a statement from the university. “We are excited to work with President Desmarais and her staff to provide these students with a clear path to ECSU so they can continue their education.”

VGCC is the fourth community college to sign such an agreement with ECSU, a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system offering more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

“This strong new partnership with Elizabeth City State University will help VGCC students achieve their academic and career goals,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of the community college. “We look forward to supporting Vanguards who choose to continue their education as Vikings.”

Under the agreement, VGCC students can choose a “co-admission” transfer pathway in which they can take ECSU degree programs without actually leaving the community college. Students will receive special joint academic advising services and virtual support. There will also be assistance for active-duty military and veteran education benefits and resources available to qualifying students. Students will receive either on-site or virtual classroom presentations; joint virtual financial aid counseling; access to the ECSU library online resources; and access to programming through the university’s Office of Student Activities and other campus organizations.

Alternatively, eligible students can complete the Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or Associate in Fine Arts degree programs at VGCC, and if they maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA), they will be guaranteed admission to ECSU. Application fees for these transfer students will be waived.

“We are excited about creating opportunities for our students that will assist them with long-term success!” said Dr. Levy Brown, VGCC’s vice president of learning, student engagement & success. “Our team has worked diligently to create multiple pathways for students, including non-credit to credit, and from our institution to four-year institutions. A special thanks to Kali Brown, Dean of Student Access and Support, and Dr. Antonio Jordan, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Services, for partnering with me on this important work for our students. Further, I appreciate the visionary leadership of Dr. Rachel Desmarais, as we continue to strategically seek partnerships that will benefit our students.”

For more information, prospective students can apply for admission online at or call (252) 738-3234.