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A new program funded by the Virginia Tobacco Commission will allow Wytheville Community College students — who don’t qualify for traditional financial aid, but still have financial needs — the opportunity to receive scholarships, announced Sen. Roscoe Reynolds (D-Henry County) at a press conference at the Crossroads Institute on Monday.
This $200,000 award WCC received to support the Wytheville Community College Forging Futures Scholarship is in addition to $71,882 from the tobacco commission to pay for equipment to launch a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) training program at Crossroads, where WCC classes are held in Galax.
“Education is one of the best ways the tobacco commission can invest in our future,” said Reynolds. “I know that Wytheville Community College will use this money to help train students and help develop a strong workforce.”
The Virginia Tobacco Commission uses its resources to help communities respond to economic and workforce changes, especially in light of the losses of jobs in the furniture and textile industries.
The scholarship program will be administered through the WCC Educational Foundation and will provide tuition scholarships — starting in the spring 2009 semester — to students from Carroll, Grayson and Smyth counties and the City of Galax and will increase access to higher education opportunities available through WCC.
“Sometimes working parents and students find out they earn just enough money to prevent them from receiving federal grant money or other financial assistance, but they don’t earn enough to cover the cost of tuition,” said Dr. Charlie White, president of WCC.
White graciously accepted the award and noted that the Virginia Tobacco Commission has also helped fund WCC’s truck driving program that began this year at the Crossroads Institute. The program recently graduated its first class of eight students.
The tobacco commission also supported the establishment of the Crossroads Institute, which acts an economic development tool for the region by housing a business incubator and small start-up businesses, along with WCC classes.
“Student access is one of the most important parts of the mission of [the Virginia Community College System], and with the help of the tobacco commission, WCC is going to be able to increase that access to higher education opportunities to many students in our service area who otherwise might not be able to benefit,” said White.
“Our region has some of the brightest and best people found anywhere, but these individuals need training beyond high school.”
White said that 85 percent of jobs by 2010 are going to require training beyond high school, and grants such as those provided by the commission will make that training available.
“Besides the fact that WCC is the best deal in town, we have affordable tuition — especially when compared to a four-year university — and we have excellent programs in career and technical education and in college transfer,” White proudly remarked.
Despite the budget shortfall the college is facing, White said it’s the support of the people and the tobacco commission that has kept the college thriving.
White said he didn’t know why WCC took so long to ask for tobacco commission funds. According to the 2002 census data, two of the counties in WCC’s service region were among the largest growers of tobacco — Smyth ranked fifth and Grayson ranked sixth. Wythe and Bland counties also produce tobacco.
White was presented with a check by Reynolds, Del. Bill Carrico (R-Fries) and Linda DiYorio, who serves on the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
“When you enter a war, there are always battles you win and battles you lose,” said Carrico. “I tell people all the time that we may have lost this battle, but we won’t lose the war.
“[Crossroads] is an example of how it can produce a workforce to go out and win the war we’re battling today with the loss of industries.”
To be considered for the scholarship program, students must be residents of Carroll, Grayson, Smyth or Galax. Students who have not already applied for scholarships for spring semester 2009 must complete a scholarship application form as soon as possible.
The form is posted on the college’s Web site at www.wcc.vccs.edu and must be returned to the WCC Educational Foundation office or dropped off at the Crossroads Institute.
Students must be enrolled in an approved curriculum at WCC, maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average and complete a financial aid file.
The WCC Educational Foundation will notify students of scholarship award amounts, which will be applied to tuition costs only.
• For more information about registering, call (276) 223-4701 or toll free at 1-800-468-1195, ext. 4701.
For additional information on the scholarship program, call the foundation office at (276) 223-4771 or toll free 1-800-468-1195, ext. 4771.
Wytheville Community College serves Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth and Wythe counties and the City of Galax and enrolls more than 4,300 students annually.