SVHEC Receives $12,000 Dollar General Literacy Grant

dollar general literacy foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) with a $12,000 grant to support the Volunteer Literacy Program.  This local grant award is part of more than $7.5 million in grants awarded to nearly 900 schools, nonprofits and organizations across the 44 states that Dollar General serves.

“The incredible generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation is making it possible for the Volunteer Literacy Program to continue assisting adults in Halifax County with their reading, writing, and mathematical skills. The grant also allows the English as a Second Language program to help adults born in other countries improve their English fluency and prepare for the citizenship examination,” said Judy Ward, Volunteer Literacy Program Coordinator.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant award will be used by the SVHEC Volunteer Literacy Program to provide on-going support for the agency’s adult literacy efforts. The Volunteer Literacy Program provides free, confidential tutoring in basic literacy, English as a Second Language, and Citizenship. In 2016, the program served 78 students.

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Computer Scientist, Dept of Defense Manager Joins ITA

Tom HendricksThis fall, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s (SVHEC)
IT Academy (ITA) will expand its advanced training courses with its first cybersecurity course. The course will be taught by new ITA instructor Thomas Hendricks, computer scientist and retired US Department of Defense manager.

Hendricks worked as a computer scientist and manager with the U.S. Department of Defense for over 32 years until his retirement in 2013.  In this capacity, he worked with many cutting-edge technologies including large scale, high speed networking, information assurance, cyber security defense, vulnerability assessments, cyber security education, and related areas of technology.

Hendricks also has an extensive record of teaching in the computer science and cyber security disciplines for several different universities, including Johns Hopkins University, James Madison University, and Norwich University. From 2001 to 2006, Mr. Hendricks’ served as the NSA Visiting Professor to the US Naval Academy.

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ITA Celebrates 4th Cohort

ITA Cohort 4

Trainees in the IT Academy’s Fourth Cohort have successfully completed the training program, and taken their place as Southern Virginia’s newest members of the region’s growing IT workforce. Nineteen individuals successfully completed the four-month Computer and Server Foundations for IT Professionals training program. Successful completers earned 28 industry-recognized certifications in CompTIA A+ and Server+, and will be invited to participate in the SVHEC’s Workforce Training Completion Ceremony on August 10th.
“I am very proud of the accomplishments of our latest cohort,” said Kelly Shotwell, ITA Program Coordinator/Trainer. “The great strides they made in technical competence from the beginning to the end of the course was impressive.  And equally important, they are all excellent team players with the enthusiasm and work ethic needed to be successful.  I look forward to getting those excited phone calls that they have been offered a job in IT,” Shotwell continued.

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SVHEC Computers Get 2nd Life at Tri-County Community Action

svhec tricounty donation web

Left to Right: Sheena Rosario, Tri-County Health Services Specialist, Sekethia Walton, Tri-County Family Case Manager, William J. Coleman, Tri-County President and CEO, Darrick Hearns (kneeling), SVHEC IT Technician, Nelson Stevens, SVHEC IT Manager, Patricia Taylor, Tri-County Head Start Director/Deputy Director, Betty Tucker, Tri-County Family Case Manager, Brenda Terry, SVHEC Accounting Manager

When the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) updated 20 of its computers, SVHEC IT Manager Nelson Stevens looked for a way to give the old computers a new life within the community. Commonwealth of Virginia policy allowed the surplus computers to be donated to a Virginia 501(c)3 charitable organization who provides services to individuals with disabilities, at-risk youths, or low-income families. Tri County Community Action Agency met the criteria, and the donation came at an ideal time for their Head Start program.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for us to place these computers in the community to benefit youth education,” Stevens said.  The 20 surplus computers are loaded with Windows 7 and have had all past information removed. Though the computers were too dated for the SVHEC’s robust programs, they were well suited for Tri County Community Action Agency’s needs.

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Trainees Successfully Complete Welding@SVHEC Program

welding cohort 6  welding cohort7

Trainees in Welding@SVHEC Cohorts 6 and 7 have successfully completed the training program, and taken their place as Southern Virginia’s newest certified welders. Tara Bailey, Clarence Crews, Eric Ford, James Holt, Stacy Morris, Justin Overby, William Ridgeway, Chris Terry, Jordan Wagstaff, and Ernest Womack successfully completed the 13-month training program, and obtained several certifications including the nationally recognized NCCER welding certification.
“Welding@SVHEC is a hands-on training program designed to give our trainees the skills and knowledge needed to begin a successful career in the in-demand field of welding,” said Scarlett Brandon, Program/Marketing Coordinator for the SoVA Center of Manufacturing Excellence.

After completing the program, program completers receive job placement assistance. Currently, 70% of cohort 6 and 7 have been successfully placed in welding positions. “Our trainees have worked diligently during the course of their training program, and we look forward to seeing their continued success as they start their new careers as certified welders,”Brandon stated.

Individuals in Welding@SVHEC receive instruction in MIG, TIG, Stick, and Pipe welding, and earn a portfolio of stackable, industry-recognized credentials. Successful Welding@SVHEC program completers will be invited to participate in the SVHEC’s Workforce Completion Ceremony on August 10th.

To learn more about the Welding@SVHEC program, contact Scarlett Brandon at 434-572-5473 or email

Americorps Spring Break Camp Held at SVHEC

Americorps Spring Break Camp-04-20-2016

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Fifteen Halifax County elementary and middle school students spent part of their spring break exploring science, technology, engineering, and math during the AmeriCorps Spring Break Camp at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC). During the camp, coordinated by SVHEC AmeriCorps member Vashunda Richardson and assisted by Americorps Member Twanee Saab, students explored electricity and electronics using Snap Circuits, engineered structures using spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, and were introduced to coding.

“The program was very educational but fun at the same time. My daughter loved the camp, and she’s looking forward to taking the summer classes. I would suggest it to anyone looking for a fun program for their children,” said parent Barbara Carmichael.

SVHEC AmeriCorps members will offer a summer camp at the SVHEC June 26-30th from 9:00am-12:00 noon. There is a $25.00 registration fee, and includes supplies and snacks. For more information visit

AmeriCorps members at the SVHEC is made possible through an SVHEC partnership with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in the Dan River Year AmeriCorps Program. Dan River Year AmeriCorps strives to strengthen STEM outcomes in the Southern Virginia region by providing high quality STEM educational programs, tutoring and mentoring students, and offering workforce development training to job seekers and incumbent workers. For more information visit

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