Quentin R. Johnson Ph.D.

Graduates Serving on the Frontlines

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Have you recently had a medical appointment? Conducted business online? Needed your electricity restored after storm damage? If so, you may have benefited from the expertise of an SVCC graduate. Our graduates fill frontline positions all across Southside Virginia.

For example, earlier this year, our nursing students helped administer COVID vaccines to 1,500 people. Every year, hundreds of students graduate from our nursing and other allied health programs. The Associate Degree of Applied Science with a major in Nursing (ADN) program prepares men and women to become Registered Nurses. After licensure, RNs fill staffing needs at locations such as physicians’ offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and public health agencies. Graduates of our other healthcare programs, including Practical Nursing, Nurse Aide, Phlebotomy, and Medication Aide, fill specific roles within interdisciplinary teams that serve patients and their families in many settings.

If you or a loved one has experienced an emergency, it may have been an SVCC graduate who rushed to provide assistance. Our programs train emergency medical service technicians at a range of levels from volunteer to professional and from basic to advanced and paramedic. In addition, graduates from our Administration of Justice programs help protect their communities by serving as local and state law enforcement officers and in other public safety roles, such as correctional and security officers.

For many of us, the pandemic increased the need to interact with the world digitally, using home computers and smartphones to access the internet. Graduates from SVCC’s cutting-edge Information Technology (IT) programs stepped up and helped us connect. Although IT workers may not be as visible as the phlebotomist who draws your blood, they have worked tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of colleges, universities, and school systems to develop and maintain the infrastructure that has enabled students and teachers to work together remotely. IT workers also provided the tools needed to keep local businesses up and running. Some IT professionals have supported workers who moved from office locations to their own living rooms, some have deployed systems that kept supply chains open, and others have provided creative solutions to keep entrepreneurs in touch with their customers.

In addition to challenges presented by the coronavirus, last February’s massive ice storm created numerous problems throughout our region. Tree limbs came crashing down. Utility poles snapped. Thousands of homes and businesses lost electrical power. Graduates from SVCC’s Power Line Worker program were among those who came to the rescue and helped restore power.

Although disasters and calamities draw attention to the need for workers in high-profile areas such as these, other tasks of restoring and maintaining normality rest on many shoulders. SVCC works diligently to prepare people for a vast range of careers that support the local economy and enhance our enjoyment of every day. We train the truck drivers who deliver goods; we train the mechanics who repair the trucks. Our HVAC graduates ensure the safety and comfort of people at home and at work. Our cosmetology graduates make sure you look your best.

SVCC is proud of its role in helping people prepare for diverse careers and to take on responsibilities in today’s everchanging society. Please visit the College’s website (southside.edu) for more information about how SVCC, its students, and alumni contribute to the wellbeing of communities across Southside Virginia.

________

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

Black History and America’s Future

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Black History Month, sometimes called African American History Month, occurs every year in February. Officially recognized by then-President Gerald Ford in 1976, the commemoration grew from groundwork established by Carter G. Woodson and others during the opening decades of the twentieth century. The observation provides a moment to reflect on the contributions African Americans have made throughout the centuries of U.S. history and to honor their achievements. Throughout February’s days, Black History Month affords an opportunity to open conversations and learn more about the intertwined histories of the diverse groups of people who comprise the American population.

February was chosen for this observation because of its link to the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, and Frederick Douglass, a former slave who achieved renown as an author, speaker, and activist for the abolition of slavery. The month opens with National Freedom Day, marking the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Lincoln signed the Congressional resolution that became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, abolishing slavery.

As Black History Month concludes, our nation will move forward with a renewed understanding of the need for inclusive and thoughtful dialog about the things we value. Virginia’s community colleges have a lot to contribute to this vital conversation. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), recently acknowledged, “When it comes to the issue of race, Virginia has baggage.” Referring to the 1607 Jamestown settlement, he explained, “Much of the modern America we know sprang from that tiny outpost on the banks of the James River. And race plays a leading role in so many of the chapters of that story, including bloody clashes between native tribes and English settlers; the origins of American slavery; the Revolutionary and Civil wars whose battle scars yet mark Virginia soil; and the shadows of Reconstruction and Jim Crow that linger yet.”

With this in mind, the VCCS has initiated the development of a new strategic plan with a revitalized emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion, not just for African Americans but for all people irrespective of race, ethnicity, income level, gender, or other inherent challenges. As president at Southside Virginia Community College, I am strongly committed to work aligned with the statewide initiative that is being done by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. One of our goals is to have a college community that is reflective of the communities and students we serve.

In honor of Black History Month and in preparation for moving forward into our shared future, I encourage you to get to know someone who is different from you. Talk to someone with a different ethnic group, race, gender, or culture.   Open a dialog with someone who is older or younger. Have a conversation with someone whose life experiences differ from yours. Ask questions, share, and listen. Learn from people who tell stories about their own and their community’s struggles. There is much to be done to reconcile inequities. We need to be not just accepting but appreciative of our differences and of our likenesses.

I am an eternal optimist. I am also a realist. I am an African American male in America, and I have faith in my country, in my college, and in the will of people to change. I believe the future looks bright for all of us. 

________

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

Recognizing the Importance of Mentors

 

 

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

January is National Mentoring Month, an observation led by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with support from the Highland Street Foundation.

A mentor is defined as a person who serves as a coach, advisor, or trusted counselor to someone with less experience. In college life, a mentor is much more. A mentor recognizes potential, kindles possibilities, and connects students with opportunities. At its most fundamental level, a mentoring relationship provides a personal connection so that mentees know someone cares. They are not alone.

At SVCC, mentoring is an important part of what we do. Formal mentoring programs stand alongside a host of other efforts that provide vital support for student achievement, including tutoring, career counseling, academic advising, and hands-on assistance in areas such as financial aid, disability accommodations, and transfer planning.

Our longest standing mentoring program, Make It Happen, began operating in 1998. This comprehensive effort supports the success of African-American males. In addition to receiving academic help, participants are given the opportunity to attend leadership development events and are encouraged to seek leadership positions in a variety of campus clubs, organizations, and committees. These activities, which promote adjustment to the college environment and encourage the development of a positive self-image, enable participants to consistently meet or exceed anticipated outcomes as measured by grade point average, retention, and persistence toward goals.

The Women in Search of Excellence (WISE) Mentoring Program seeks to address the challenges facing women in higher education by fostering healthy relationships and providing support, guidance, and encouragement. Participants overcome barriers enabling them to achieve personal, professional, and academic growth. With support from their mentors, WISE students set goals, make informed decisions, identify needed resources, discover pathways, cultivate strong relationships with women in business and academia, and develop leadership and self-improvement skills.

Go For It, a pilot program being launched at SVCC’s Center for Information Technology Excellence (CITE) in South Hill, is aligned with the Microsoft Women in Data Centers Pathway Program. Go For It will pair local students with their counterparts in Dublin, Ireland, and Microsoft staff will provide personal mentoring.

These programs and others help students reach education targets and attain personal success. They are especially valuable for students who are returning to an education pathway after time spent in the workforce. For example, people who find themselves unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-related job changes and wish to train for new career options can find the help they need at SVCC. The Re-Employing Virginians (REV) Grants program, originally instituted at the end of last year, has been extended through 2021. By combining this financial assistance with effective mentoring and student support, our College enables student achievement.

REV grants cover community college tuition for Virginians who meet program requirements and wish to train in REV-eligible programs. These span a wide range of options in areas with high job demand and include associate degree pathways, certificate and career studies programs, and short-term FastForward credentialing opportunities. Fields include nursing and other healthcare-related fields, criminal justice, information technology, and hands-on technical programs such as welding, machining, and automotive repair.

If you’re considering a return to higher education, contact SVCC. Visit southside.edu or call 434-736-2046. Ask us about financial assistance, mentoring, and other student support services that can help you reach your goals.


Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

 

SVCC’s Ongoing Mission

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

A year ago when I accepted the offer to serve as Southside Virginia Community College’s sixth president, the world was a different place. People have commented about what a topsy-turvy year it has been, but I am pleased to have been tasked with a leadership role in such challenging times. There’s no place I’d rather be.

During its 50-year history, SVCC’s mission has focused on serving the regional community through education, outreach, and collaboration. The mission remains unchanged. I am thankful and proud of how the college community has come together to meet COVID-19’s enormous challenges. During the virus-related emergency, SVCC’s staff have been active in seeking opportunities to serve the public in new ways.

Be assured, SVCC is open for business. We are working collaboratively to meet challenges head on. We are collectively doing whatever it takes to serve our students and neighbors. For example, as a service to the community, one of our instructors, Lisa Jordan, has assisted small businesses with their applications for grants. Several faculty members are serving as volunteers to shop for people who are place-bound, and our Campus Within Walls Coordinator, Lisa Hudson, has worked diligently to ensure continued instruction for incarcerated students.

In its mission to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to acquire an educational foundation that develops and extends their skills and knowledge, SVCC has embraced innovative opportunities to serve diverse student groups. Our Career Coaches have been in touch with 2020 graduates from area high schools and have worked diligently to assist high schools in pursuing alternate placement testing options. Students who have elected to stay home rather than return to other institutions across the commonwealth have been welcomed. Financial aid staff continue to work hard to ensure that each student receives the maximum amount of support available, including funds earmarked for students under the CARES Act.

Dr. Dixie Watts Dalton, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Business, reports that faculty members have adopted an array of technology-enhanced communications, such as live Zoom sessions, utilization of Canvas and Navigate, phone calls, texts, email, and Facebook Messenger. In addition, faculty have put together packets of course materials to be mailed to students without internet access. Also, Dr. Dalton commends instructors who have developed creative solutions in special circumstances. As an example, she explains, “For what is usually a hands-on class, adjunct instructor Katy Clarke created recordings of painting techniques for her art class so that students could watch and listen on their own schedules as they work on their own paintings.”

Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Occupational Technology, is working closely with his team to develop innovative workarounds to ensure education continues in the online environment. In addition to technical solutions, such as the use of automotive repair and advanced manufacturing simulators, faculty members are working one-on-one with students to ensure success. An example is allowing welding students to complete class projects where they are currently employed and send their work to the instructor for evaluation. Although hands-on labs are not currently permitted, an SVCC taskforce is working very hard to develop best practices to ensure student safety once students can return to our labs.

Dr. Michelle Edmonds, Dean of Nursing, Allied Health, and Natural Sciences who is also serving as Special Assistant to the Vice-President of Workforce and Academics, explains her current strategy, “I pretty much run office hours 24/7. Whenever students write to me by email or text message, I respond right away. If they can send me a picture of their question, I can walk them through it or I can show them another example.”

No one knows for sure what the future holds. If you have questions about any of our classes, academic programs, or short-term FastForward workforce programs which lead to jobs, please give us a call. At SVCC, we are communicating differently and adjusting to working in ways we’ve not worked before, but our strong commitments to the community and to education excellence remain steadfast. We are making every effort to put all hands to the task. Our ongoing mission of community service is too important for us to do anything less.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

Subscribe to RSS - Quentin R. Johnson Ph.D.