Rappahannock Community College has no mold for its students — every student that passes through its doors is highly unique and uses their RCC education for a different purpose. This is exemplified in Chimuel Agcanas, a software systems engineer for the Dominion Power Company, who took RCC Dual Enrollment courses from 2007 through 2010.
Agcanas moved to West Point from the Philippines in 2001. He attended West Point High School, and was encouraged by his high school counselor and teachers to take dual-enrollment courses. Agcanas took calculus, physics, statistics, biology, and English as a dual-enrolled RCC student. He graduated from West Point High School in 2009 and transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where he graduated in 2014.
At only 24, Agcanas has already earned a bachelor’s degree, which would have taken him longer to complete after high school if he had not been dual-enrolled.
On his courses at RCC, Agcanas notes, “I think that having earned college credits while applying for colleges definitely helped set me apart from other candidates. I can’t guarantee that it was the ultimate deciding factor for each university I applied to, but I was definitely more confident in myself during the application process. At the end of it all, I was accepted at all the institutions I applied to.”
It was perhaps this confidence that propelled Agcanas through his university career. Not one to shy away from hard work, he reflects, “you can’t coast through courses or do just enough to pass. Doing that will only be a detriment to you once you’re in higher level courses.”
He took his own advice to heart, it seems, and he graduated from VCU with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and minors in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.
“Today, I work for the Electric Transmission Systems Operations Center as a Software Systems Engineer. This is an Information Technology (IT) position but is very specific to the EMS (Energy Management System),” says Agcanas.
In the little over a year that he has been with Dominion, he has worked with a team that is responsible for supporting and maintaining Dominion’s SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system across their operating territory.
Agcanas and his team at Dominion are an integral part of keeping homes supplied with safe, reliable electricity. It’s a demanding job, but it’s one that he feels he was well-prepared for when the opportunity came, and he credits RCC for supplying him with the knowledge and experience necessary to go on to learn his trade.
“I can guarantee my [RCC] experience still impacts me today,” he affirms. “Even though none of the courses I took for dual-enrollment were advanced courses, the fundamentals I learned have stayed with me.”
It’s not easy to successfully balance taking college courses and finishing high school, but Agcanas doesn’t regret the work and time he put into dual-enrollment. “Those courses (as basic building blocks) were the foundation on which I built my knowledge which, in turn, I have used to open doors of opportunity over the years,” he says.
“Take as many dual enrollment credits as you can while you can,” Agcanas advises. “It’s economical and it is a better use of your time in high school.”
“The more you know and do today, the easier things will be for you in the future.” — Mary Skinner