Second Chances: John Butler

John ButlerWhat stands out in John Butler’s mind about a Blue Ridge education is the level and quality of communication found here.

“Administrators and staff make themselves accessible to the student body, which helps to develop trusting relationships,” he says. “When students feel and experience genuine concern, they are empowered.”

Building on this foundation of empowerment, John plans to complete his Human Services studies at BRCC and transfer seamlessly to JMU for a degree in Social Work. He wants to work with ex-inmates in the Department of Corrections to help them readjust to society.

“When offenders receive education, treatment, and training, they can successfully transition back to their families and communities becoming responsible, productive members of society,” says the 55-year-old. “I envision becoming a director of a transitional home for ex-offenders.”

The Hampton, Va., native held many different jobs, such as a bricklayer, shipyard worker, maintenance mechanic, and even as a Certified Nurse Assistant, before finding his “calling”  and the “clarity of what really makes [him] happy” in social work. He believes those in the helping professions are rewarded by changing people’s lives. Continue reading

BRCC Hikes the Virtual Appalachian Trail

Jordyn DeCroesWhen JMU Graduate Assistant Jordyn DeCroes told Blue Ridge Community College to “take a hike,” she was amazed at the response. Twenty-seven employees and eight students combined walking and running the virtual Appalachian Trail for a total of 2,180 miles in just six weeks.

“It is awesome to see individuals at BRCC on the move!” said Jordyn. “When I first launched the program, I had some doubts about completing the entire length of the trail, but we ended up doing it in six weeks.”

Building on the success of the “Walktober” program from the fall of 2013, Jordyn said she wanted to do another activity to target those who were already active and working out, as well as those who might need a challenge or goal to encourage them to start. Hiking the AT is also a geography lesson, as it goes from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine, through 14 states. It is the longest hiking only footpath in the world. A poster in the rec center kept exercisers updated on their progress. Continue reading

Career Expo April 9

Blue Ridge Community College Career Services is excited to bring 40 employers with job vacancies they need to fill to campus on Thursday, April 9, 2015 for the annual Career Expo. Students and the general public are invited to the Plecker Center from noon to 4 p.m. that day. According to Latoya Garrison, assistant coordinator of Career Services, attendees should come “dressed for success,” résumés in hand, and ready to interview and complete applications. Continue reading

Second Chances: Nathalie Warren

Nathalie WarrenDespite entering the foster care system at age 13, Nathalie Warren, 21, is one of the lucky ones. She was legally adopted, along with her younger brother, by her first permanent placement family. The memories of the day she was taken are still painful though.

“The difficult times have made me a stronger person,” she says “I’m more protective of people. The day we were taken, I couldn’t hug my little brother or anything. My little sister went to a different home. It made me feel like I want to be a role model for kids in foster care.”

When Nathalie first came to Blue Ridge in Fall 2012, she had a less than stellar academic start. She was at another low point in her life and personal relationships, and not really focusing on school. After entering the Great Expectations program, an initiative of the Virginia Community College System which expands educational opportunities for youth aging out of the foster care system, Nathalie was able to turn things around. Continue reading