One of Nicole's two sons has asthma, and she was curious about the drugs and inhalers he was prescribed. She researched a pharmacy career and began to consider it as a way to make more money for her family.
Nicole chose Virginia College. Shortly after starting classes, though, her world was turned upside down. Her husband was preparing to deploy to Asia for military duty and her mother was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Even while caring for her mother and preparing for her husband's deployment, Nicole continued to have nearly perfect attendance and excellent grades. She drove two hours each way to attend classes and studied into the night, waking up at 4:45 each morning.
It would have been easy to quit school, but with the help and encouragement of her instructors, she stuck with it. Nicole received her diploma in Pharmacy Technician and is now employed at a hospital. She's proud that she is providing for her family and that she has set an example for her children.
"Despite the challenges, you can work hard and do what it takes to overcome and fulfill your dreams. Anything is possible!"
Sometimes, success starts when you don't give up. You give your all.
Regine's Haitian parents encouraged her to dream—and to learn. In addition to speaking English, she also speaks French and Creole. She holds a bachelor's degree in business.
She admires her father for many reasons, but his love for Haiti inspires her. As a civil engineer, his goal is to train construction personnel there so people will have a reliable and comfortable place to live, learn and work.
His passion inspires Regine to dream.
To realize her dream of cutting hair and owning her own hair styling shop, Regine needed solid cosmetology training. She turned to Virginia College.
There, she was "hooked immediately." Because of her religious beliefs, though, she thought her class schedule would be a problem. But the instructors at Virginia College worked with her to develop a schedule that allowed her to balance all aspects of her busy life.
As a Cosmetology student at Virginia College, Regine got practical experience cutting and styling hair at V's Student Cosmetology Services on campus. There, she got real-world practice and learned the importance of inspiring her clients to keep their hair healthy–not just looking good. She was also able to build a client list that would come in handy after graduation.
"Nothing compares to Virginia College…they were structured, organized and caring. The instructors are phenomenal and they treated me very well. They were inspiring and supportive and provided a very detailed education."
After graduating, she went to work at a salon. But her dream to open her own shop persisted. When friends challenged its money-making potential, Regine told them to "do the math."
Today, she's an award-winning entrepreneur and the owner of Salon Privé. Her clients know her for keeping their appointments flexible and their hair healthy.
Her salon was the recipient of the Emerging Business of the Year award from the local chamber of commerce, of which she is an active member. She also speaks to at-risk youth at local high schools, encouraging them to fulfill their own educational and career dreams.
But her ultimate goal? To bankroll her father's dream to help rebuild Haiti.
Sometimes, success starts when the lessons that change you…help you change the world.
Precious Berry was working at a day care center and as a freelance photographer, but she could see a better life for her kids. Even though she had earned an associate's degree from a community college, she wanted a medical career. She wanted to help save lives in a surgical setting. Refocusing on her goal led Precious to Virginia College and its Surgery Technology program.
"It was very one-on-one…small classes. The stuff they say was all true. People know your name. The instructors have a personal touch. My online classes were the same way. The instructor was very helpful and personal, and they talked on the phone when I had a question or problem with an assignment."
After graduating with an associate's degree from Virginia College, she accepted one of two job offers from area hospitals for a surgical technologist position. What was her advantage?
"Virginia College gave me everything I needed to be successful in this profession. I'm getting positive feedback from doctors. They say, 'This young lady is well-prepared and has a bright future.' They like my positive energy. When I'm in that operating room, I'm comfortable…it's like I'm supposed to be there."
Sometimes, success starts with seeing a new way forward.
Holly is called 'Ms. Clemente' by her students. And they call her often.
When she was in college, Holly was blessed with a great support system of family and friends. But as a Virginia College instructor, she knows some students face obstacles alone, like transportation, health issues and child care. So Holly helps them solve their problems so they can concentrate on changing their lives.
She believes that everyone who wants to succeed and is willing to work hard should have the opportunity to succeed. And she puts that belief into motion for her students.
She's always there for them. No problem is too big; no problem is too small. Like a bulldozer, she helps clear obstacles from her students' path. And to Holly, every student at Virginia College—whether in her class or not—is one of her students.
Holly knows you can't teach someone if you don't connect with them. And you can't connect with someone unless you truly care for them.
Sometimes success starts when you go the extra mile to make sure someone else gets ahead.
Carol is an Admissions Associate at Virginia College. She works with recent high school graduates, career changers and working parents. She helps these people see their potential. Then she encourages them to reach it.
When she first met Desmond in her office, he didn't seem to think much of himself or his future. But Carol didn't just see a young man slumping in a chair. She saw a success story in the making.
He needed some help on the assessment test for entry into the college. Carol made sure he got it.
He needed something else: a reminder that someone believed in him. She gave him that, too.
Carol followed Desmond's progress throughout his career at Virginia College. She watched him grow and evolve each day in class. She listened, she inspired, she pushed.
But there was one place Desmond didn't need pushing: on the stage at his graduation.
Carol will tell you: there's only one Desmond. But she and hundreds of Virginia College staff and faculty have plenty of listening, inspiring and believing to go around.
Sometimes success starts when someone perceives who you think you are…and believes in you anyway.
People used to think Desmond had potential. But he couldn't find a way to reach it. People started giving up on Desmond, and, eventually, Desmond did, too.
But something was going on with him—something stronger than the negative opinions of others. He wanted to do something with his life, something important. He wanted a career. That's why a friend referred Desmond to Virginia College.
There, he met Carol, an Admissions Associate. Desmond had never been a star student, and didn't do well on the assessment test for admission. But Carol set him up with tutoring and encouraged him. He did the work. Soon he passed the assessment with flying colors and entered Virginia College.
Carol didn't just see Desmond's potential—she helped Desmond find the best possible way to reach that potential. Carol believed in Desmond and, eventually, Desmond did, too.
Now, Desmond is a successful graduate of Virginia College.
Sometimes success starts when someone sees a fire in you…and they hold your feet to it.
On the second day of class in his first quarter at Virginia College, John was asked to turn on his computer. His response: "How do I do that?"
That's not where his story began, though. It began without direction or purpose. But John wanted to change his path and needed a college to help him navigate to a brighter future.
John Suit found such a place at Virginia College.
He also found a place that felt right for him, a career college for all kinds of learners—even those who don't fit the "typical student" profile. By the time he graduated from Virginia College with his associate's degree, John had earned every industry certification offered in his program area.
But that was only the beginning of his transformation.
John volunteered to help when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Using his new skills, he worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week helping to rebuild computer network infrastructure.
Then, with the inspiration of his grandfather, his path led him toward accomplishing another goal—his bachelor's degree. He was accepted at a large state university but it didn't feel right to John. So he returned to Virginia College and earned that degree, too.
Today, John's skills are in big demand. He travels all over the world as a high-level engineer, designing and building computer networks.
Sometimes success starts when the will to survive leads to a journey without limits.
Lucy Smith's career path hasn't been a straight line. At first, her head directed her to the corporate world, but her heart had other ideas.
After graduating from a big state university, Lucy took a job at a brokerage firm in Atlanta. The corporate environment didn't allow for a lot of self-expression. She's always been creative, and creativity is not easily suppressed.
So Lucy made the decision to go back to school. She enrolled in Virginia College so she could learn the skills she needed to put her creativity to work for her. After graduating, she worked at an interior design firm. Then she decided to use her design training to open her own business. Today, Lucy owns a thriving company that creates and manufactures custom furniture.
Sometimes success starts when what you love to do becomes what you live to do.
Dr. Luis Pineda is a cancer specialist. While visiting his patients in the hospital, he noticed untouched trays of food. He realized that sore mouths and sensitive stomachs—some of the effects of cancer treatment—made eating difficult. He also knew that proper nutrition was vital to healing.
So Dr. Pineda set out to help his patients renew a love for food that cancer had taken away. He enrolled in Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College to learn how to combine his knowledge of medicine with the art of cooking.
Today, Chef Pineda's dishes help relieve the side effects of cancer treatments. He's a cookbook author and lecturer on the subject. His recipes, born out of a desire to serve beyond his calling, help restore appetites and have allowed thousands with cancer to rediscover the joy of good food.
Sometimes success starts when someone realizes that the best medicine doesn't always come from a lab. It comes from the heart.