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RCC grad keeps on making a difference

A year ago, Essex County resident Laurie Loving had just completed a practical nursing certificate at Rappahannock Community College, and had applied for admission to RCC’s associate-degree nursing program. When she was not accepted, she did not let the disappointment stop her—“Quitting is not an option,” she says. “Losing is only another opportunity waiting to happen.” Instead, she took the free time resulting from this temporary setback, and used it to develop “You Can Make a Difference” (YCMAD). This program, now a nonprofit corporation, shows people how to exert a beneficial influence in their communities by helping put a stop to bullying, peer pressure, and suicide among students of all ages.

LaurieLoving-2013Loving got the idea for YCMAD from a presentation about negativity and school bullying that she attended during a leadership summit for college students. “I decided that I had to do something about it,” she says; and she has done so, with the help of classmates and other friends. The group’s talks, skits, and musical programs at local schools and community meetings have been enthusiastically received, and Loving has established YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, “so people can follow what we are doing.” In addition—among other projects—she has organized a series of food drives to benefit local families. She is currently working to recruit someone who will keep the YCMAD mission alive in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula after she leaves RCC.

Childhood influences, Loving believes, drove her “great need to be of service to others, and to try to make a difference in people’s lives.” During her formative years, her family endured a great many health challenges, and much of her time was spent keeping hospitalized family members company. This propelled her first toward the study of nursing, and then, after she had gained more experience of the world, to consider a career in psychology and education-related counseling.

Loving’s scholastic career has been an outstanding one. She achieved a 4.0 grade-point average while working for a nurse aide certificate through dual-enrollment classes at the Northern Neck Technical Center (2008, concurrent with her Essex High School graduation). She then went on to earn a number of emergency-medical and other certifications; joined the Tappahannock Volunteer Rescue Squad in 2009; and spent the academic year of 2011-12 as a teacher assistant in the NNTC nurse aide program from which she graduated. The top grades she maintained throughout her RCC career made her eligible for membership in the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. As of Spring 2013, she has earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree from RCC; the efforts made to recruit her by two prestigious colleges attest to her excellent record.


After due deliberation, Loving has chosen to continue her education at Regent University in Fall 2013, majoring in psychology and youth ministry. She plans to earn a master’s degree in psychology in addition to her bachelor’s degree, after which she will be able, she hopes, to take some time to travel and spread the YCMAD message as an inspirational speaker, success coach, and counselor. If possible, she would then like to come back to RCC and take a counseling position.

Loving says that she has enjoyed working at the college very much, serving with the Student Support Services (SSS) program as a mentor, and as a tutor in math, anatomy, and medical terminology. She has also been employed as a student activities assistant, and as a Student Ambassador has represented the student body at official college functions and served as a guide and mentor for new students. She has served on the RCC Educational Foundation’s Marketing Committee, and has done volunteer work at Foundation fundraisers. She describes RCC’s staff as “one big happy family that works together well to serve its students and the community.”

“Students need role models,” Loving says; and if they have none at home, then she aims to supply them. In her case, participating in the SSS program gave her the encouragement she needed to succeed—“the college motivated me and supported me,” she says. In addition to student leadership conferences in Williamsburg and Roanoke, and field trips to some of the four-year colleges with which RCC maintains guaranteed-admission agreements, SSS gave her the opportunity to attend plays and take part in many other cultural experiences, which “broadened my viewpoint.”

The most strenuous and time-consuming project Loving and the YCMAD group have undertaken is the restoration of RCC’s Warsaw Campus nature trail, which was completely blocked off and unusable for three years following the 2009 hurricane season. In September and October 2012, Loving coordinated a team of eight students with members of the college’s buildings and grounds staff to clear, groom, and re-mark the four routes, working several days a week from 4 p.m. until dusk as well as a number of Saturdays. With rakes, hoes, Weed-Eaters, and chainsaws, they hacked their way through what was very nearly an impassable jungle.

In the words of one team member: “The trails were completely overgrown, with large trees blocking the way . . . the grass was above our waists in a lot of spots. . . . We finally made it to the Blue Trail entrance, which was covered in trees and limbs—part of the group started to clear that way while we continued to go forward toward the Yellow and White Trails. We cut the grass down, and finally got to a bridge that needed to be cleared off. [After doing so,] there were two huge trees that we couldn’t do anything with. We worked on the Blue Trail while Tim Coffman [the Warsaw Campus buildings and grounds supervisor] and other RCC staff worked on the bigger trees . . . . There was a lot of wildlife out there . . . . We continued working on the White Trail until we made it back to the loop of the entrance. While working on the White Trail we found out that there was a Red Trail as well, and the Blue Trail connected with it . . . . We were determined to have all the trails open before winter came.” In fact, the trails were ready for action by October 23, when students and faculty were invited to tour them as part of the Warsaw Campus Fall Bash. The last part of the job—drawing a printable map of the four routes—has just recently been completed.

Students who took part in this huge project, in addition to Laurie Loving, were Tremayne Thompson, Essex County; Monisha Holmes, King and Queen County; Le’Shawn Rhodes, King George County; and Sara Beal, Erlene Coleman, Ronald Corder, and Garret Withers, all of Richmond County.

6 Responses to “RCC grad keeps on making a difference”

  1. Louisa G. Bridges says:

    What an inspiring story !!!

  2. Shirley Johnson says:

    Laurie has a heart of gold. Laurie’s goal in life is to be there for others that are being treated wrong.

    Laurie has a great story to tell.

  3. Basheer A.Malik says:

    Keep up the good work Laurie! I wish you success in your future endeavors.

  4. akost says:

    Regent will soon find out what a gem they have in you. You will be missed and we are awaiting your return!

  5. Laurie Loving says:

    Thank you everyone and yes I will be returning to RCC!

  6. Meagan Gay says:

    Whoo-hoo! You go, Laurie!

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