Launch into life at your community college

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The reasons people choose to begin their postsecondary education careers at community colleges are as diverse as the things they go on to achieve. Regarding their accomplishments, the sky is certainly not a limit. Some community college graduates literally have gone farther.

Consider Eileen Collins. Collins received her Associate’s Degree from Corning Community College in New York.

It was just the beginning. She continued her education and earned additional degrees from Syracuse University, Stanford University and Webster University.

Collins entered NASA’s astronaut program in 1990. She became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle and the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. She was not, however, the only astronaut to embark on a higher education journey at a community college.

Others include Robert L. Gibson, who flew five space shuttle missions, and Fred Haise, lunar module pilot for the Apollo 13 mission.

Other nationally renowned community college students include a diverse roster. To name just a few, there’s poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize; Major League Baseball pitcher Kevin Appier, who was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame in 2011; Gov. Bill Anoatubby, who has been the leader of the Chickasaw Nation since 1987; award-winning filmmaker George Lucas, who may be best known for the Star Wars movie franchise; and American geneticist John C. Ventner, who helped sequence the human genome.

But it isn’t necessary to look far afield to find students who have launched impressive careers at a community college. For instance, Belinda Dickerson earned an Associate’s Degree at Southside Virginia Community College.

She now holds a Master of Arts Degree and recently published the book “Controversies Quieted by the Sword.”

Caleb Thomas also graduated from SVCC.

He transferred to Radford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and he is currently working toward an MBA from Liberty University. These are just two examples. The list goes on and on and on.

Community colleges provide gateways to limitless opportunities, and SVCC’s advisors routinely help students build their academic portfolios, explore options before making a career commitment and save on tuition.

According to statistics compiled by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, students who complete the first two years of their postsecondary education at a community college can save more than $30,000 on the total cost of their education.

Furthermore, transferring students who graduate from SVCC with an Associate’s Degree and a minimum grade point average (which varies by institution) are guaranteed admission to more than 20 colleges and universities throughout the commonwealth.

For launching into success, there’s no better place for lift-off than a community college.

Dr. Al Roberts is president of Southside Virginia Community College. He can be reached via email at