Students get a look at PHCC programs

April 16, 2014

Patrick Henry Community College recently welcomed high school seniors from Henry, Patrick and Franklin counties and Martinsville to see what the college has to offer after graduation. 

During the past few weeks, around 350 students visited PHCC’s campus and attended 25-minute sessions that showcased different programs, including workforce development and continuing education, emergency medical services, computer aided drafting (CAD), and courses at the Fab Lab and Artisan Center.

Colin Ferguson, pathways coordinator for Accelerated Learning at PHCC, said organizers formed the trip based on a similar program at Southwest Virginia Community College. 

“After we formed a plan from a steering committee, I sent a request to every division to give them a chance to showcase what they’re doing,” he said. “I had great response from everyone. Our goal was not to show one little part of the college, but to showcase a broad range of what we’re doing.”

Ferguson said students who visited had no plans after high school, or they already are planning to attend PHCC. He said it “exposes these students to more options after high school, and allows them to have direct contact with college faculty and personnel. Maybe they will be more comfortable asking questions or coming to campus if they see a familiar face.” 

Kim Buck, coordinator of community development programs, and Matthew Wade, Fab Lab coordinator, told students about innovation and entrepreneurship resources available at PHCC.

“I encouraged students to look at the needs of our community and to see that as an entrepreneurial opportunity,” Buck said. “If they want to start a business someday, they have a lot of options at Patrick Henry Community College — from the associate degree program in entrepreneurship and small business management to our noncredit workshops that cover different aspects of running a business.” 

The Artisan Center in uptown Martinsville offers further options for artist entrepreneurs, including short-term courses in new subjects and classes in artisan entrepreneurship, added Buck.

Students took a video tour of the Fab Lab, located in the Artisan Center, and learned about digital fabrication technology available to students. 

Brenell Thomas, programs coordinator for workforce development and continuing education, said this program is a unique opportunity to reach students for career credit courses.

“We usually target non-traditional students with our programming, so to introduce our short-term workforce and entrepreneurial programs to high school students was very beneficial for our division,” she said. “Students often think it takes years to complete a program of study and may not realize that some other training options offered at PHCC help them gain in-demand skills to go to work right away.” 

Students came from Franklin County, Patrick County, Martinsville, Magna Vista and Bassett high schools.

Bassett Principal John Gibbs traveled to PHCC with about 60 students on March 29. He attended four sessions and said he learned about the tremendous amount of programming available at the college. 

“I think it’s a great thing that PHCC organized this for area high school seniors. It’s been a real eye opener for them to be here,” he said. “I’m not sure if they know how many opportunities are available to them. … Community stakeholders have told us local industries are looking for skilled workers to fill jobs. PHCC can give us that.”

Lloyd Cannaday, computer-aided drafting (CAD) instructor, told students about opportunities in architectural and engineering design. 

“Students got to see the technologies they can become skilled at and make careers of. In my classroom, they explored skills needed to become a ‘virtual reality modeler’ for engineering and architecture. It was a great thing for PHCC and the high school seniors,” Cannaday said.

Ferguson said the trips were rewarding for everyone involved. 

“It takes a lot to put something like this together,” he said. “The support of local school divisions helped tremendously. They are committed to lifelong education and the futures of their students moving forward, even after they leave high school.”


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