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Tyler Students Meet with State Lawmakers to Discuss Impact of Community Colleges

Primary Media Contact:

Holly Walker
Public Relations Manager

Secondary Media Contact:

Heather Busch
Creative Services Manager

Released on March 10, 2020

Students with Gov. Ralph Northam Students with Sen. Ghazala Hashmi   Students with Sen. Amanda Chase   Students with Del. Roxann Robinson   Students with Del. Roslyn Tyler Students with Del. Lee Ware

CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – For Alicia Alvarez, John Tyler Community College provided a place where she could continue her education without getting lost in large classes. After spending five years in the military, Artre Turner turned to Tyler to help him transition to an educational environment. As someone with an interest in business, Catherine Villiott chose Tyler because it would help her minimize student debt. These are just some of the benefits of community college discussed by Tyler students during visits with state legislators on February 5, 2020 and February 18, 2020. During the trips, the students, accompanied by John Tyler Community College President Edward “Ted” Raspiller, met with Sen. Amanda Chase, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, Del. Lashrecse Aird, Del. Emily Brewer, Del. Carrie Emerson Coyner, Del. Roxann Robinson, Del. Roslyn Tyler, and Del. Lee Ware, as well as talked to assistants in Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s office and in Del. Kirk Cox’s office. In addition, the students also had an opportunity to meet with Governor Ralph Northam and the Chief Workforce Advisor to the Governor Megan Healy. 

During the meetings, the students shared their personal stories; talked about the opportunities Tyler has given them; and discussed the importance of college affordability, small class sizes, transfer agreements, and workforce connections.

The seven students who participated in the trips are (zip codes appear in parenthesis):

Princess Alashmali (23831) completed high school early, and at age 16, found herself contemplating college choices. She admits she was a bit nervous about taking the next step in her education. She heard good things about Tyler from her mother, who had attended the college to study nursing, so Princess decided the college would be a good place to start. She enrolled in classes and said that very quickly, Tyler began to feel like a home. Confident in her pathway, Princess is now focused on pursuing her lifelong goal of becoming a nurse practitioner or doctor. She is a health sciences major and is treasurer of the college’s Student Government Association. Once she completes her associate degree, she plans to continue her education at a four-year college or university.   

Alicia Alvarez (23237) began attending Tyler after spending a semester at a large university. She made the change after realizing she wanted to take a different academic path to her career and because she felt she would be more successful at a college that offered smaller class sizes. After starting her Tyler classes, Alicia realized she wanted to do more, so she eagerly looked for ways to get involved. Now, she is serving her second term as the Tyler Student Government Association president, is a student ambassador, and is less than a semester away from completing her general studies degree. With an interest in helping others overcome speech impediments, Alicia has set her sights on becoming a speech pathologist. After she graduates from Tyler, she plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to continue her education. 

Alexis Atkinson (23139) knew she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to build on her love for art. After taking a dual enrollment class in high school and learning about community colleges, she decided to enroll at Tyler, so she could save money while getting a good education. Soon after starting her classes, Alexis discovered she had another love: art history. Her interest in the subject ignited, prompting her to switch majors, so she could focus on becoming a teacher of art history. Now, she is on track to earn a liberal arts degree and a fine arts certificate. She’s already practicing her teaching skills by tutoring in Tyler’s Academic Resource Center, and she is exploring what’s next up in her education: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) through the Mellon Pathway Program, a partnership between Tyler and VCU.

Shauna Neal (23831) remembers being interested in medicine as a child. As the years passed by, that interest grew, as did her enjoyment of science. Focused on pursuing a medical career, she moved out of state after high school and began attending a four-year university. By the end of her first semester, Shauna said she realized the path she had chosen was too expensive. So, she moved back home and reworked her plan. She enrolled in Tyler and began working on a major in science. Shauna said she quickly fell in love with the college and the opportunities it offered her. She got involved in student activities and became a student ambassador. Now, in her last semester at Tyler, Shauna is getting ready to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will continue to study science before deciding which health-care path she wants to take.   

Aimy Simbi (23224) planned to move out of state for college, but a tour of Tyler’s Midlothian Campus prompted her to change her plans. Aimy says Tyler’s welcoming environment, affordability, and transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities made the college a good fit for her. With a goal of becoming a certified public accountant, she enrolled in the college’s business administration program. While taking classes, she developed an interest in working with future and current students. So, she became a student ambassador and then ran for and was elected to the Student Government Association, where she now serves as secretary. After graduating from Tyler, Aimy wants to transfer to a four-year college or university to study accounting.  After working in the field for a while, she plans to go back to school to study corporate law.   

Artre Turner (23237) wants to know how things work. He enjoys assembling items, understanding how different pieces work with one another, and figuring out how he can make systems operate more efficiently. After high school, he served five years in the U.S. Marines and decided he’d like to study engineering. He turned to Tyler because he believed the college would help him transition back into an educational environment. Soon, Artre found himself immersed in college life. He became active in clubs and began working in the college’s Academic Resource Center, where he tutors math and science.  That sparked an interest in teaching, and Artre now says after working in the field as an engineer, he hopes to become a college professor. After graduating from Tyler, he plans to transfer to Virginia Tech to study industrial engineering.   

Catherine Villiott (23112) enjoys problem solving, and she possesses a fascination with the corporate world. So, after high school, she enrolled in Tyler’s business administration program. Catherine says she chose Tyler because she wanted smaller class sizes and less student debt. Plus, her brother had attended Tyler, and she knew he liked the experience. Soon after starting at the college, Catherine started getting involved in student life. She became a student ambassador, and after a while, decided she’d like to work with students in a different way by becoming a tutor. As her graduation from Tyler nears, she is preparing for her next steps. Over the summer, she will be interning at Dominion Energy, and this fall, she plans to attend Virginia Tech to study business information technology and learn about supply chain management.    

John Tyler Community College offers more than 75 majors that provide pathways to careers in high-demand fields; transfer opportunities to four-year colleges and universities; and industry credentials and licensures. The college, with campuses in Chester and Midlothian, online classes, and off-campus classrooms, served more than 14,000 students during the 2018-19 academic year. It also assisted more than 7,000 learners through its workforce development division, Community College Workforce Alliance, a partnership between Tyler and Reynolds community colleges.

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Holly Walker, Public Relations Manager


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