Humanities students at Paul D. Camp Community College try their hand at spear throwing

group demonstrationPaul D. Camp Community College Humanities 211 students Adriene Muhammad, above from left, adjunct instructor Felice Hancock, Jennifer Griffin and Daena Mousso, watch a demonstration this week from William Hancock, local historian and artifact replication specialist, on how to launch a spear using his reproduction atlatl, which increases the force and distance of the weapon. Hunters would have used the atlatl to take down game from afar from around 3000 to 1200 B.C. in Virginia, according to Felice, who is also volunteer chairman of the Western Tidewater Humanities Council. Standing with them is Dr. Michael Barber, right, state archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, who presented the prehistory of Western Tidewater to the summer class designed for educators. The students practiced using the “ancient weapon,” Felice said. “They had a great time in their efforts, but admitted they would starve without much more practice.”Bill Hancock demonstrates


Agreement between Paul D. Camp and Tidewater community colleges allows students to transfer credits to TCC’s Studio Arts program

An agreement established by two local community colleges will allow students who have completed the General Education Certificate at Paul D. Camp Community College to transfer the 33 credits to Tidewater Community College’s Associate of Applied Arts in Studio Arts.
“A large number of students, particularly our Suffolk residents, enroll each year in TCC’s Associate of Applied Arts in Studio Arts,” said PDCCC Vice President of Academic and Student Development Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady. “This agreement will allow students to take half the credits needed for the A.A.A. degree from PDCCC, earn the General Education Certificate from PDCCC, and do so more economically.”
The studio arts program at TCC gives students extensive studio experience and prepares them for employment in art-related venues, such as museums, art centers and galleries.
“While this partnership allows students the opportunity to earn a General Education Certificate and the A.A.A. in Studio Arts, it also provides options of completing specializations within the Studio Arts degree,” said Christina Rupsch, director of TCC’s Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth. “These specializations include Photographic Media Arts, Glass and Pre-Art Therapy.”
In order to complete the General Education certificate with credits that transfer to TCC’s program, students will take Drawing I, College Composition I and II, College Success Skills, Principles of Public Speaking, History of World Civilization I and II, a Social Science elective, Math elective and Lab Science sequence.
“We are very excited about this partnership, which increases educational opportunities for students at an affordable cost through collaboration with our sister college,” Atkins-Brady said.
Rupsch approached Atkins-Brady approximately a year ago regarding the creation of a transfer agreement such as this.
Atkins-Brady said Rupsch was “instrumental in vetting the idea with TCC leadership, including Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Daniel DeMarte, Portsmouth Campus Provost Dr. Michelle Woodhouse and Associate Vice President for Academics Dr. Kellie Sorey.”
“Our institutions worked together on the necessary programmatic revisions and other details to develop an agreement that is a win-win for our shared students and the colleges,” Atkins-Brady said.
The transfer agreement is effective for the upcoming academic year. PDCCC classes begin Aug. 21. Interested students should consult their PDCCC advisor and review the program requirements in each college’s catalog. The PDCCC College Catalog is available online at www.pdc.edu/college-catalog. The TCC College Catalog is available online at www.tcc.edu/catalog.


Paul D. Camp Community College nursing student to earn associate degree while simultaneously taking classes toward bachelor’s degree

Shal Biacsi 1Shal Biacsi prepares a sterile dressing in the nursing lab at PDCCC.
Although math and science were subjects at which Shal Biacsi excelled, she had never thought of applying that knowledge to the nursing field.
“I didn’t know what they actually did,” she said. “I always thought of nurses as supporting other professions, rather than existing as its own medical profession.”
Biacsi, 42, is now the first student at PDCCC to concurrently take classes toward her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at Old Dominion University while completing the Associate’s Degree in Nursing at PDCCC.
“She is a pioneer, so to speak,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Carol Wright. “She is an outstanding and highly intelligent student.”
Biacsi was enrolled in the biochemistry program at Old Dominion University. Two weeks from beginning her classes, she ran into a former colleague who was in the nursing program at Paul D. Camp Community College.
“She was telling me things about nursing that I didn’t know and I realized that the career opportunities in nursing were more plentiful in this field than in biochemistry.”
Biacsi then made another discovery after receiving further guidance from a friend who is a retired anesthesiologist.
“He told me that most anesthetists are not doctors, but nurses,” Biacsi said. “That was a turning point for me. I was hooked on becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).”
After she received approval from PDCCC’s Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Debbie Hartman to enroll in the concurrent program at ODU, she spoke with Chief Academic Advisor for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at ODU Janice Hawkins.
“I told Dean Hartman to ‘Let me be your poster child,’” she said. “I knew I could handle the course load and I’ve received tremendous support from both colleges.”
Biacsi takes six to eight credits each semester online with ODU in addition to her 8 to 10 credits at PDCCC.
“At ODU, there is a once a week due date, so the structure of the program gives me flexibility to complete my assignments,” she said. “Even though my ODU classes are online, I am exposed to other concurrent students in the program and other nursing students. I feel that I’m better prepared for this with the education I’m receiving from the instructors at PDCCC.”
Biacsi earned an associate’s degree in Business Administration online at TCC and earned an associate’s degree in General Science from TCC. She will not graduate from ODU until she has graduated from PDCCC and passed the NCLEX RN licensure exam. Biacsi will then be awarded 33 transfer credits toward the completion of the BSN degree.
A member of the National Student Nurses’ Association, Biacsi will graduate from PDCCC in May 2016 and ODU in August 2016. She hopes to work locally.
“I’ve been to 16 different schools in my 12 years of grade school,” she said. “I would like to stay put, and I’m making this area home.”
She encouraged others to take advantage of the concurrent program at ODU through PDCCC. “It’s only two years and it’s worth it,” she said. “Everyone in the nursing program is welcoming and helpful, but they don’t hold your hand. And they really emphasize respect for the field.”
“Who knows, maybe I’ll come back here and teach,” she said.

Shal Biacsi 2Shal Biacsi listens to the heart rate of a “patient,” in the simulation lab.


Paul D. Camp Community College expands Welding Program for fall 2015 semester

Welding Lab at PDCCCPaul D. Camp Community College has expanded its Welding Program to benefit both its students and area industry.
“The program will be more comprehensive, as well as provide students with additional instruction in order for them to prepare for the American Welding Society (AWS) certification,” said Industrial Trades Lead Faculty Richard Baker.
AWS certification testing is now available through a partnership with Thomas Nelson Community College that allows students to take the testing at a reduced cost.
In addition, the program will be a 24-credit hour curriculum, which enables students to apply for financial aid.
“This will help a lot of students who cannot afford their classes,” said Baker. “Students will still be able to take
The program will offer courses in pipe welding, plate welding and fabrication. Registration is currently under way for fall semester at PDCCC. Classes begin Aug. 21. For more information, contact Baker at rbaker@pdc.edu .


First-generation student moves to Suffolk after 9/11, makes career path at Paul D. Camp Community College

Wanda OldenWanda Olden was working in the “Big Apple” when she decided to move to Suffolk in 2003. The chaos that ensued after 9/11 is what eventually sent her to her family’s hometown.
Olden was working at the New York City Department of Probation in lower Manhattan, five blocks away from the towers when the terrorist attack occurred. “I was on the 14th floor of the building in which I worked, watching the first tower burn,” she recalled. “It looked like a normal fire.”
But after she and co-workers saw the second plane intentionally slam into the second tower, they realized the scope of the situation. Along with the devastation, loss of lives and heightened security, it became difficult to travel to and from work in that area. “People were afraid to take the subway, which resulted in two-hour bus rides,” she said.
Olden’s parents, grandparents and great-grandparents also were from the Virginia Peanut City and after vacationing there one year, she began thinking about owning her own home there as well. “I always loved Suffolk,” she said.
She settled here and worked different jobs before being hired for a non-profit organization. Olden worked there for five years before the economy took a downturn, which affected the amount of donations coming into the organization. Olden’s job was one of the first that was cut.
“It was like someone pulled the rug from under me,” she said. She worked some temporary jobs for a while and then met Vernetta Mason at the Virginia Employment Commission. “She asked me if I had considered going to college and said that I would be a perfect candidate for the On-Ramp Program for dislocated workers,” said Olden.
“I owe everything to her. If it weren’t for her guidance, I wouldn’t be earning my degree.”
The On-Ramp Program at PDCCC provides funding for tuition, books, supplies and fees to those eligible. Without it, Olden wouldn’t be able to afford tuition. Thanks to the funding, along with support from Lisha Wolfe of the Career Development Center, Counselor Dr. Hyler Scott, Assistant Professor of English Ronette Jacobs, and former PDCCC President Dr. Paul Wm. Conco, Olden, 50, is now working for the Suffolk Literacy Council and is on schedule to complete her associate’s degree in Business Management in 2016. And when she does, she’ll be the first in three generations of her family to graduate from college. She has also recently accepted an internship with the Suffolk Education Foundation.
“Extra-curricular activities don’t mean as much to me anymore,” she said. “The majority of the time, I am in my office at home, at work or school. But, I feel complete. “Once my mind was made up to attend college, I gave 150 percent to make a better future for myself.”
Olden, however, is very involved with activities at the college. She is a Presidential Student Ambassador and was selected to attend the Student Leadership Conference. She serves as president of the PDCCC Literary Club and has served as an English tutor for Student Support Services. She is also a member of the Students Transitioning through Education Programs Successfully or STEPS Program and has completed Microsoft certification through RFK Solutions.
The non-traditional student has earned the following scholarships while attending PDCCC:

  • Franklin Woman’s Club Scholarship
  • PDCCC Classified Staff Council Scholarship
  • The highly prestigious Valley Proteins Fellowship through the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

“PDCCC is a great start to find information that can enrich your life, whether your goal is certification classes or a degree,” she said. “I found that out the day I set my foot on this campus— and I never left. I wish I had attended college 30 years ago.”
Olden plans to further her education at a four-year college or university, majoring in business administration while solidifying her career goals.


May 2015 Pharmacy Technician graduate lands job at University of North Carolina hospital

David JohnsonDavid Johnson fills a “prescription” in the pharmacy lab at Paul D. Camp Community College.
David B. Johnson is the first student from the Paul D. Camp Community College Pharmacy Technician program to get a job in a hospital setting so soon after completing his studies.
“Pharmacy technicians don’t usually get hired right out of school to work in a hospital,” said Program Director and Instructor Elaine Beale. “It generally takes a few years of practice, usually at a retail pharmacy, before being considered for a job like this.”
Johnson, 33, graduated in May and on July 6, will begin working as an inpatient pharmacy technician at University of North Carolina (UNC) Healthcare in Chapel Hill, NC.
“UNC Healthcare will soon be a 900-bed facility,” he said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside other future pharmacists being trained at a highly respected pharmacy school.”
Johnson was also the first of eight in the third class of Pharmacy Technicians at PDCCC to take and pass the national exam for certification. “I love competition,” he said. “I felt like my classmates and I became a family and a few of us competed often. I wanted to be the first to successfully pass the exam, as it was my way of empowering them to take the exam. And earn their national certification as well.”
He highly recommends completing most of the program before taking the national exam. “It’s not an easy test, but once you’re certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, you can attain a license to work in any state. I have both Virginia and North Carolina licenses.”
Johnson has been working in healthcare for over 12 years, most recently with the registration team at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Emergency Department. He had previously been working toward a business degree at a community college, but realized his passion was healthcare.
“I was a good business student, but my heart just wasn’t in it,” he said. “I had considered enrolling in a Pharmacy Technician Program for years. My niece, Tori, graduated from NC State University two years ago and her accomplishment not only made me a proud uncle, but also inspired me to return to college to pursue my dreams.”
When he began looking at schools that offered the program, Paul D. Camp Community College stood out to him even though he would have to commute to Franklin from Chesapeake.
“PDCCC was the best choice,” Johnson said. “Mrs. Beale responded to me so quickly. I could feel her passion for this program, so it was an easy decision for me.”
He added, “Choosing this program was the best decision I ever made. Mrs. Beale wants every student to succeed and gives them every opportunity to do so.”
Since the Pharmacy Technician Career Studies Certificate Program is a 25-credit hour program, students are eligible to apply for financial aid to help offset the cost. “Being able to apply for and use financial aid was a big help to me,” he said.
Johnson gained clinical experience working with Pharmacy Technician Pamela Ritsch and Pharmacist Margaret Rosner at Western Tidewater Free Clinic from November 2014 to February 2015 and Sentara Norfolk General In-Patient Pharmacy from February 2015 to present.
His goals include pursuing some additional specialty training for IV admixture certification offered in Texas and becoming a pharmacist.
“UNC is one of the top pharmacy schools in the country,” he said. “It’s a 4-year graduate program and there are many prerequisites to even apply. I have a lot of science classes left to take, but I’m strongly considering it.”
Johnson, a native of Elizabeth City, NC, plans to relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina in late June.


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