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RCC student earns prestigious fellowship

Valley Protein Fellowship Recipient M. Gay

Valley Protein Fellowship Recipient M. Gay

The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education has selected Meagan Gay, who attends Rappahannock Community College, to receive one of the VFCCE-administered Valley Proteins Fellowships.

Of the hundreds of thousands of people across the Commonwealth served by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) each year, only ten are privileged to receive a Valley Proteins Fellowship. In addition to gaining full coverage of tuition and fees for their second-year community college classes, Valley Proteins Fellows participate in a unique curriculum that includes leadership programs, cultural opportunities, and a community service project. The program is made possible through the generous support of Valley Proteins, Inc., a Winchester-based company that operates 12 plants in Virginia and four other states.

Meagan Gay earned high-school equivalency in Spring 2011 under the guidance of the HOPE² homeschool co-operative in King George County. She expects to graduate from RCC in Spring 2013 with an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree, and plans then to transfer to the College of William and Mary. “I want to major in chemistry,” she says, “but where I go from there is unclear. I will either transfer to Virginia Tech to study veterinary medicine”—with the hope of becoming an equine veterinarian—“or continue in chemistry, specializing in nuclear chemistry or chemical engineering.” If she has time for extracurricular activities, “I would love to join a creative writing or photography group, or find a venue to practice historical interpretation.”

She appreciates the “small-school atmosphere” at William and Mary because it reminds her of the environment that she has found so inviting at RCC. After her homeschooled background, she says, “RCC has been my first experience of a public school. I have found the people—students and faculty alike—supportive and kind. I have enjoyed getting to know all my teachers, and have built a small circle of close friends. I think this was a good ‘step up’ from high school, without throwing me in at the deep end of a full-scale university.”

Gay particularly mentions RCC math instructor Robert Parker and chemistry instructor Charles Crook, who she calls “wonderful mentors,” as easing her transition into college classes. “With their help, my scores in these subjects improved greatly,” she says.

In addition to maintaining the 3.5 grade-point average required for her membership in the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Gay holds down two part-time jobs: as an RCC peer tutor in chemistry, algebra, and English, and as a reenactor and tour guide, demonstrating culinary arts, kitchen crafts, and fiber crafts at George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument (GEWA). She says that Professor Ruth Greene’s public speaking class at RCC’s King George off-campus site gave her “counsel and tips that have proved invaluable” for the latter position. Previously, she says, “I’ve never been confident with speaking in front of an audience, even though it’s my job!”

Gay also acts as a mentor and trainer to young members of GEWA’s Heritage 4H club, which she helped to found; she earned the title of Master Volunteer by logging 500 hours with the National Park Service. To fulfill the community service component of her Valley Proteins Fellowship, she plans to volunteer at a local equine training facility as part of a therapy riding program for special-needs children. She looks forward to “helping these children adjust to their surroundings both physically and emotionally, as well as learning the deeper intricacies and benefits of equine therapy and care.”

“Valley Proteins is privileged to invest in the future of some of Virginia’s most outstanding students,” says company vice president Michael A. Smith. “These young people are tomorrow’s leaders, and we are confident that the returns for our investment in them will be substantial.”

One Response to “RCC student earns prestigious fellowship”

  1. Langley Lewis says:

    Congratulations Meagan! I hope you continue to enjoy the process of learning.

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