RCC staff members, Brent and Perry, earn doctorates

Drs. Perry and Brent

Members of the Rappahannock Community College leadership team — Dr. Jason Perry of Middlesex and Dr. Matthew Brent of Lancaster.

Two familiar faces at Rappahannock Community College recently achieved a personal goal, which will allow them to better serve their students, but also will enhance the mission of the College in general.

Jason Perry, who serves as the Vice President of RCC’s Workforce Development department and Matthew Brent, a history faculty member, earned their doctorate degrees.

Perry studied at Virginia Tech and earned his Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) with a specialization in career and technical education, while Brent studied at University of the Cumberland and earned his Ph.D. in leadership with a specialization in history.

Brent is planning to use his new degree in some ways, but one will benefit the College immediately. Due to the departure of one long-time staff member, Dr. Brent will serve as an acting academic dean for 2017-18.

Perry wrote his dissertation on Virginia’s Middle College program, which helps high school dropouts, age 18-24, finish up their GED in about a year and transition smoothly into college. Perry’s focus was on those who participate in the programs and factors of completion, community college success, and participant perceptions.

“We found that high school dropouts don’t typically get a second chance,” says Perry. “Once we brought them onto a college campus, it truly gave them the motivation to continue towards achieving success. It was interesting to see that information appear in the study.”

One of the focuses in Perry’s program was andragogy, or the method and practice of teaching adult learners, which fits perfectly in his role at the College.

Perry enjoyed the extensive amount of writing and reading his degree required, feeling like it helped him understand the topic far better, while Brent enjoyed reaching out to other students on Canvas collaborate and felt like the frequent meetings made it easier to achieve communication despite the online environment.

Both were elated to finish their programs, as were their family. Perry started the program in 1992 and took a break for ten years due to job and location change. He started back up six years ago. Brent was a first-generation college student and the first in his family to go to graduate school and beyond.

Brent is very excited for the future.

“It was a lot of work. It was not as difficult as I thought it would have been because a lot of what I was studying I was doing by working at the college,” says Brent.

“There were a lot of hands-on experiences that helped supplement what I was doing in the program, which made it so much more relevant,” he says. “I had thought about doing a Ph.D. in history but there are only three schools in Virginia that offer those, and you have to physically go there.”

RCC’s fall classes begin on August 28. — April Wobken