Local Kids Get Vaccinated in the Fight Against COVID

South Hill, VA (6/14/21) – On Friday, June 4, kids age 12 and older took advantage of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s (VCU Health CMH) last first-dose COVID vaccine clinic. Pfizer is the only vaccine that is approved for ages 12 - 17 at this time. They’ll be able to come back for the second shot, but no more first doses will be given due to the vaccine being widely available now in so many other places.

Alice Wells, of La Crosse, got her first COVID vaccine dose.

Thirteen-year-old Alice Wells, of La Crosse, said, “It felt great to get the shot and not have to worry about catching COVID anymore. My arm was sore for a day, but that’s about it. I’m ready to get back to in-person school and skeet shooting with the 4-H Club in Chase City.”

She lives in a multi-generational family and her family members all got the shot when it first became available to them.

Her father, Robert Wells, said, “Alice is a ‘no-fear’ child and we didn’t have to do any convincing. We are all ready to get back to some sense of normalcy after the year of lockdown.”

Morgan Evans, of South Hill, got her first COVID vaccine dose.

Fourteen-year-old Morgan Evans, of South Hill, said, “I feel good; my arm was sore for about two days. I’ve been doing virtual school so I’m looking forward to going back in the fall and hanging out with my friends.”

Her grandmother, Carolyn House, said, “Morgan is an honor roll student – kids don’t do as well learning on the computer so I know she’s looking forward to bringing up her grades.”

If you still need to get your shot, it’s not too late. See your primary care provider for more information. If you need a primary care provider, call (434) 584-2273 to make an appointment. COVID Vaccines are readily available at local pharmacies and you can check vaccines.gov to find a location near you.

Community College Tuition: A Good Deal and a Great Investment

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

For the fourth year in a row, tuition at Southside Virginia Community College will remain unchanged. The State Board for Community Colleges made the decision by unanimous vote earlier this year. As a result, tuition at Virginia’s community colleges represent an unparalleled value in education.

The tuition rate of $154 per credit hour represents approximately one-third of the comparable cost to attend one of Virginia’s public four-year universities, but the tuition savings is only part of the picture. A host of financial aid options are also available. In fact, according to recent data, 90% of first-time students at SVCC received financial aid. The average annual amount awarded each recipient totaled $5,224.

Sources of financial assistance include Federal Pell Grants, which are available to qualifying students based on financial need. Several statewide initiatives for community college students also help lessen education costs. For example, grants made under the Re-Employing Virginians (REV) program provide assistance to qualifying students who lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Get Skilled, Get a Job, and Get Ahead (G3) program provides funding for Virginians who are seeking training for in-demand careers in fields with high-value wages. The FastForward Credential Program provides funding to cover two-thirds of the cost of attending short-term training programs that prepare students to embark on career pathways in a wide variety of technical fields.

In addition, approximately 250 students each semester receive aid through the SVCC Foundation. These local scholarships support students at a wide range of levels, from moderate help in paying for textbooks and supplies, to major assistance that covers full tuition. Awards are based on diverse criteria, such as program of study, county of residence, year in school, and academic performance. Funding for these scholarships comes from the generosity of alumni, employees, organizations, companies, and others in the region who understand the value of education and training for as many people in our service area as possible.

Long time SVCC board member Lisa Tharpe, and her husband Tim Tharpe of J.R. Tharpe Trucking have an established track record of aiding students in SVCC's Truck Driver Training program. Mrs. Tharpe explains, “The Truck Driver Training Program is a valuable resource to our company. Support of this program and its students is a great investment in our future workforce.”

Ray Thomas of Brunswick Insurance Agency is another benefactor. He says, “My family has a long history of providing scholarship support to Brunswick County students so they can attend SVCC.  My dad, Gene Thomas, was instrumental in setting up the SVCC Foundation, and we understand the value of community college education.”

One thing students at SVCC do not receive is debt. National statistics regarding federal student loan obligations suggest that many college students leave the classroom with staggering amounts of debt. The credit rating agency Experian reported that the aggregate amount of outstanding student debt at the end of 2020 was nearly $1.6 trillion, with an average individual student balance of $38,792. Instead of contributing to this burden, SVCC chooses to help students find sources of funding that do not have to be repaid. As a result, the federal student loan amount encumbered at SVCC by our graduates is $0. That’s right, zero!

I invite you to maximize the benefit of your education dollars. Visit www.southside.edu for links to more information about SVCC’s programs of study, enrollment options, and financial aid availability.  Again, SVCC tuition is a Good Deal and a Great Investment!

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

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