Sarah Pope and the RCC Scholarship

RCC accepting Scholarship Applications for ’18-19 Academic Year

Sarah Pope and the RCC Scholarship

Sarah Pope, RCC’s Dean of College Advancement, shows off the RCC Scholarship application on an iPad. The scholarship application is entirely electronic, making the process much simpler for students wishing to apply.

Mark your calendar for October 1, 2017. That’s the first date that students can apply for a scholarship to Rappahannock Community College (RCC). This earlier date gives those who are planning to attend RCC in the 2018-19 academic year four months to fill out the single scholarship application form, which puts them in the running for over 100 awards.

“We changed the date for when we’re opening the scholarship application to coincide with the first day that students can apply for the FAFSA,” said Sarah Pope, RCC’s Dean of College Advancement. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the way many students begin to pay for college tuition.

With the scholarship and FAFSA applications both opening on October 1, Pope hopes that students will complete both applications, making them eligible for private and public tuition assistance.

“If you think you might attend RCC in the fall of 2018, full-time or part-time, then you definitely should apply for a scholarship.  An average scholarship is $1,000, which is significant considering that the full-time tuition at RCC per year is about $4,700. If a student completes the FAFSA and is eligible for federal financial assistance as well, then he or she can combine that with a scholarship to make tuition even more affordable,” says Pope.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the RCC Educational Foundation awarded just under $500,000 in scholarships to over 450 students.

Funds that support the scholarships come from community donors, including local businesses, families, and civic organizations, as well as from events such as the RCC Educational Foundation’s annual Preakness Party fundraiser, which will be held on May 18, 2018, at the historic Ben Lomond home in Essex County.

“Our goal is to assist as many people in our service region as possible to make an RCC education affordable,” says Pope. The RCC service region includes the counties of Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland.

Pope is excited about this year’s scholarship process, noting that students have four months to complete their application (between October 1 and February 16). Students can login in draft form and come back and revisit it. It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

To apply for the scholarships, one must apply to RCC first. Applying to RCC will set the user up with the username and password to complete the scholarship application.

“I encourage everyone to apply!” says Pope.

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RCC’s Dr. David Keel to brief Senate-sponsored committee in D.C.

Located in Richmond County, Haynesville Correctional Facility is the home to over a thousand inmates. Many of these men will not be released, but some who are serving their time are changing their future with education.

Thanks to the Second Chance Pell program and funding from other private grants, some of the inmates are also known as students in the evening, as the faculty and staff of Rappahannock Community College descend into the compound.

“We have 28 students who were in the Second Chance Pell currently and many graduates from the recent past,” says Dr. David Keel, RCC’s Dean of Student Development, who helps lead a team from RCC to provide education to those eligible.

The Second Chance Pell is a pilot program backed by the U.S. Department of Education, which includes 67 colleges and universities, of which RCC is a part. The aim of the program is to assist those who are incarcerated find jobs after their release and help them become productive members of society.

Keel notes that Haynesville students are also supported by The Sunshine Lady and the Laughing Gull foundations. The “Sunshine Lady” herself is Doris Buffet, sister of Berkshire-Hathaway billionaire, Warren Buffet.

“She’s very passionate about helping people who have been incarcerated get educated and helping those who are survivors of domestic violence,” says Keel.

Thanks to the assistance from these institutions, RCC has been educating students at Haynesville since 2008.

Keel says that some of the Haynesville students are taking classes within RCC’s Arts and Science Transfer Program, which will prepare them for transfer to a four-year university upon completion.

“Many of our students know that education will change employment options,” says Keel. “They are very interested in business classes and our Sunshine Lady Foundation cohort — about half of them — are taking business management classes which is one of our associate degrees applied science.

“Those classes are geared toward helping a student translate skills more immediately to appointment rather than obtaining a bachelors degree.”

Though the students are located inside a prison, their in-class experience is very similar to what any college student might enjoy — with one gigantic exception.

“They have no Internet access,” says Keel.

A challenge for both students and staff, the lack of Internet makes communicating, filling out forms and other routine tasks a bit more time-consuming. Whereas college students of today can expect to complete much of the application process online, Haynesville students must rely on the U.S. Mail for all correspondence with RCC faculty and staff. The financial aid process itself, too, is challenging, meaning that Haynesville students must complete their forms on paper or in-person.

But, all of these hoops are worth it, according to Keel.

“We know that the recidivism (relapse into criminal behavior) rates for people of incarcerated are quite high but, there is a growing body of research that suggests that you are much less prone to recidivism if you have an education,” says Keel.

“If you have somebody coming from a community where there are not a lot of job options, and when they get out where there aren’t a lot of jobs, and they have a felony conviction, that makes it even tougher for them for employment.”

Keel and his colleagues must be doing something right, as he will be heading to Washington, D.C. to participate in a lunch briefing on Second Chance Pell grants on September 18.  The briefing is sponsored by Senator (D-HI) Brian Schatz and the Justice Roundtable’s Reentry Working Group.

“I will be present to serve as part of the panel,” says Keel. The panel will be made up of people with expertise in the areas of policy, corrections, and higher education; as well as former Pell grant recipients will discuss how Pell Grants improve access to higher education for incarcerated individuals and help to improve individual, family, and community reentry outcomes and success. There will be time for audience questions.

Dr. Keel is quick to point the spotlight at others who make the Haynesville program operate successfully, like Dean Matthew Brent, English professor Gina McKinley, financial aid officer Eric Fallin and the many other full and part-time faculty and staff who work at Haynesville regularly.

He also credits Haynesville’s Assistant Principal, Ms. Dante DaWalt, for helping nurture and support the program from within its walls. Her input has been key to the program’s success.

One item Dr. Keel enjoys sharing about the experience at Haynesville is that beyond simply helping people, RCC is creating a real collegiate environment for them. Aside from the metal detectors and lack of Internet, the students learn, and the faculty teaches much as they would anywhere.

“I see our role as being like the Ellis Island of Education,” says Keel. “We help all sorts of students from really high achieving students who could go to Duke or U.Va. or UNC Chapel Hill, but we also serve students that wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of other options.

“I think that we’re helping strengthen our community by giving people who are vulnerable choices.”

RCC student Cole Bristow

Essex High School’s Cole Bristow on Football, his Future and Fluting

RCC student Cole Bristow

Since his sophomore year, Cole travels to the RCC Warsaw Campus in the mornings to attend CBGS classes.

Cole Bristow will tell you that he lives in a small town in a rural area. His school is small, and the band he plays for is “proportionately” small as well. This becomes clear on Friday nights at the football field at Essex High School, when the band is performing, and the flute solo can be heard very clearly. That is because there are only two flutists in the band, one of them is named Cole Bristow.

While Cole and his family enjoy their life on the Middle Peninsula, living in the “country” has not affected his educational options, thanks to Essex High School’s partnership with Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS) and Rappahannock Community College.

Since his sophomore year, Cole travels to the RCC Warsaw Campus in the mornings to attend CBGS classes. These are categorized as “dual enrollment courses,” which means that Cole will be earning credit toward an associate degree, and they will be transferrable to the next level, at the four-year school of his choice.

Cole is excited about working on his college credits while in high school. He says that thanks to this opportunity, he will be able to enter a four-year university as a junior, and excel to a masters degree more quickly.

“Currently I’m one credit away from being able to get my associates,” says Cole. “I am one PE credit away. I’m on track.”

In this, his senior year, Cole is taking physics, calculus and marine and environmental science, which, he says, is essentially oceanography. These classes appeal to him, and his career aspirations of becoming a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study hurricanes and how to better track and image them.

“I like science and math,” says Cole. “I want to research energy and maybe find new renewable energy sources, besides the ones we currently have.”

The experience for Cole and CBGS at RCC has been very positive.

“I like the curriculum here,” he says. “High school is okay, and all, but the curriculum here is so much more challenging and engaging. If you put in the work into it, it’s extremely rewarding. Also, it’s really fun as well, if you enjoy learning.”

His immediate next step after graduation next spring are still a bit of a mystery, and Cole will not say where he wants to transfer his credits to. In fact, he has been hedging his bets.

“Maybe U.Va. but I am not sure,” he says. “I have over 30 college t-shirts from many different schools.”

For the next few months anyhow, Cole is balancing his days as an Essex High School, CBGS, and RCC student, homework doer, video game player, Netflix watcher, son, brother and one of just two flutists for the Trojans’ marching band.

“You might hear me at the games,” he laughs.

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RCC Lifelong Learning reviews the War of 1812

“Virginia and the War of 1812: Did anything happen here?” is the question asked in a new course from the Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation’s Rappahannock Institute for Lifelong Learning (RILL). Instructor Stuart L. Butler will answer this and other questions on October 6, 13, and 20 (Fridays), from 1 to 3 p.m., at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury in Irvington.

The course, focusing primarily on the Northern Neck, will examine the actions of Virginia’s political and military leaders during the War of 1812. A detailed examination of the strengths and weaknesses of Virginia’s militia will be presented, and the causes and significance of the war will also be discussed.

Stuart L. Butler has been writing about Virginia’s role in the War of 1812 since retiring from the National Archives and Records Administration in 1999. His latest book is “Defending the Old Dominion: Virginia and Its Militia in the War of 1812.”

Advance registration, with a tuition payment of $35, is required to take this course. For more information on “Virginia and the War of 1812: Did anything happen here?” and other RILL courses, or to register, please call Sharon Drotleff at RCC’s Educational Foundation office (804-333-6707), or e-mail her at sdrotleff@rappahannock.edu.

The Educational Foundation expresses sincere appreciation to the Bank of Lancaster’s Golden Advantage program, and to Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, for their generous support of RILL in 2017.

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RCC Lifelong Learning takes a trip with Lewis and Clark

An in-depth look at “Meriwether Lewis and William Clark: From Tidewater Roots to the Expedition 1803-1806” will be the basis of a course from the Rappahannock Community College Educational Foundation’s Rappahannock Institute for Lifelong Learning (RILL). Page and Jane Henley will teach the three sessions on October 11, 18, and 25 (Wednesdays), from 1 to 3 p.m., at St. Mary’s Whitechapel Episcopal Church near Lively (Lancaster County).

Session One of this class will cover the early years in the lives of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The second session will describe their preparations for the expedition, and their departure, followed by a winter with the Mandan Indians. Session Three will give highlights of the expedition, including its arrival at the Pacific Ocean, its return to St. Louis, and the report to President Thomas Jefferson.

Jane Henley holds degrees in history and reading and teaches language arts, social studies, and special education. Meriwether Lewis is her fourth-great uncle, and her ancestors owned Lewis’s birthplace until 1900. Page Henley holds degrees in history and law and has lectured and written about Northern Neck history for many years. Both have traveled the Lewis and Clark Trail many times, and have established professional and personal relationships with leading national Lewis and Clark scholars

Advance registration, with a tuition payment of $35, is required to take this course. For more information on “Meriwether Lewis and William Clark: From Tidewater Roots to the Expedition 1803-1806” and other RILL courses, or to register, please call Sharon Drotleff at RCC’s Educational Foundation office (804-333-6707), or e-mail her at sdrotleff@rappahannock.edu.

The Educational Foundation expresses sincere appreciation to the Bank of Lancaster’s Golden Advantage program, and to Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, for their generous support of RILL in 2017.