Mountain Empire Community College will offer free tuition to high school graduates; After . . .

Here’s a roundup of education briefs. Want more education news? There is no full-time reporter west of Richmond covering K-college education. You can help solve this problem. Help fund this post. By the end of the year, NewsMatch will double your donation up to $1,000.

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Mountain Empire guarantees free tuition for high school graduates

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation has announced that it will guarantee all high school graduates in its service region a tuition-free community college beginning in the class of 2023.

As part of MECC’s 50th anniversary recognition, MECC’s Advisory and Foundation Boards have set a goal in 2022 to raise enough funds to support up to two years of tuition coverage for high school graduates to Lee, Dickenson, Scott, Wise and the town of Norton.

“MECC’s pledge is intended to help students who plan to enroll in community college after high school, or those going straight into employment,” MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover said in a statement. communicated. “While we need workers, SWVA needs skilled workers. Acquiring a set of skills leading to employment beyond the entry level is essential for our residents. »

In April 2022, members of the Charlottesville Genan Foundation visited MECC to tour the campus and learn more about the college’s workforce initiative. MECC staff requested support from the Genan Foundation to increase academic achievement rates in Southwest Virginia, which are about 20 percent lower than the state average. (Full disclosure: Genan is one of our donors, but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy).

In August 2022, the Genan Foundation announced a donation of $750,000 to launch the MECC Promise program, citing MECC’s commitment to building a skilled and trained workforce in the region. MECC President Kristen Westover and MECC Foundation Executive Director Amy Greear visited each local county’s Board of Supervisors and Norton City Council to seek additional support to secure funding for the program in beyond 2023. That funding is not yet available, but Greear said the school feels confident enough to proceed.

To qualify, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA, be continuously enrolled for up to two years, or 72 credit hours, until the candidate’s first associate degree; reside in the service area and provide proof of residency; complete a FAFSA and submit all required documents annually, and complete the MECC scholarship application annually. The MECC Promise Scholarship will be a last dollar scholarship for tuition only.

Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson counties and the town of Norton. MECC serves over 1,300 full-time students and over 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in a variety of academic and career-technical programs. To learn more about MECC’s Promise program, visit

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Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine to Host Conversation on Black Maternal Health

Jonathan Webb. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM), along with Black Father Family and United Way of Roanoke Valley, will host a conversation about the black maternal health crisis and the role fathers play as advocates. The conference, titled “Black Mothers, Black Babies, Black Fathers,” will take place on December 12 and is free and open to the public.

The event moderator is Jonathan Webb, executive director of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). He will lead a discussion with Lewis Townsend, maternal and child health advocate, and Alyssa Watkins, obstetrics and gynecology physician at the Carilion Clinic and VTCSOM faculty member.

The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. on December 12 in Auditorium M203 at VTCSOM at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke. Registration is requested.

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Andrew Sebel. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech student named FFA National President

Virginia Tech’s second student, Andrew Seibel, was named President of the National FFA Organization at the 95th National Convention and Expo FFA at the end of October. He is the 13th FFA national officer from Virginia and only the fifth to win the title of national president.

On November 21, he visited the White House for the annual turkey pardon. A week later, Seibel stood on the steps of the Executive Mansion with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and First Lady Suzanne Youngkin for the Christmas tree presentation. Next year, he will travel both domestically and internationally as a senior representative of the FFA, a leading organization that prepares members for leadership and careers in science, business and technology. farming.

Seibel grew up on a third-generation beef cattle farm in the Roanoke Valley. His father, Andy Seibel, held various agricultural education jobs with the FFA and Virginia Cooperative Extension before being appointed executive secretary of Virginia FFA. His mother, Megan, is the director of Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results, a two-year leadership program for adults in agriculture. Both parents hold multiple degrees from Virginia Tech.

Seibel became active in the FFA in college. He has participated in several competitions, such as floor judging and public speaking. During his junior and senior years at William Byrd High School, he became even more involved as he prepared to run for public office. From 2020 to 2021, Seibel represented more than 30,000 Virginia students enrolled in agricultural education as Secretary of State for the Virginia FFA Association. The year-long commitment forced Seibel to take a break from studying at Virginia Tech, where he majored in agricultural and applied economics.

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