Here’s a round-up of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Bluefield sets new tuition rates

Bluefield University has announced new tuition rates for  eligible students in the local area and the Commonwealth of Virginia for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Crafted as an expansion of the institution’s Pathways tuition program for students from the local  community, students will now have the option of paying a flat tuition rate. 

Pathways Tuition Rate 

Eligible students must have a 3.0 GPA eligible for Pell funding to qualify for a tuition rate of  $13,800. This tuition program is the university’s best rate in honor of the institution’s 100th year of service to the community it was founded to serve. It is available to high school, home school, and students from any Virginia community college. Pathways students are also  available for a reduced rate to reside on-campus. This program is available to students who reside in the following counties: 

Virginia – Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Floyd, Grayson, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski,  Russell, Smith, Tazewell, Washington and Wythe 

West Virginia – McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers, Wyoming 

Commonwealth Connection Tuition Rate 

Eligible students must have a 3.0 GPA to qualify for a tuition rate of $15,000. This tuition  program was established to provide an exclusive rate to all Virginia high school, homeschool  students, and students transferring from any Virginia community college. 

A majority, if not all, of each tuition rate, may be covered through the Virginia Tuition  Assistance Grant (VTAG), Pell grant funding, outside scholarship assistance, and other  identified funding sources, according to the school. Students and their families can learn more about these rates and  other offerings by inquiring at or calling 276-326-4231.

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Free lecture in Roanoke on revolutionary brain-computer interface

Bin He, a fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, will discuss the latest breakthroughs in brain imaging and machine learning at the next Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. The lecture will take place at 5:30 p.m. May 5.

Bin He, trustee professor of biomedical engineering and neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, will discuss a revolutionary noninvasive brain-computer interface, which uses brain imaging and machine learning to interpret human intention in the brain and program robotic systems, in a talk in Roanoke on Thursday.

He will discuss the significance of this work at a public lecture titled “Dynamic Brain Mapping and Brain-Computer Interface at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The presentation is free and open to the public at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke

“The impact of this work is two-fold,” said He, who is also a fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, in a statement. “The first is direct application to patients who are paralyzed or have any sort of motor function disorder. We also believe it could help the general population in terms of multitasking and controlling the environment around you.”

His talk is the latest in the Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture Series, hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke. The series is named for Maury Strauss, a Roanoke businessman and biomedical research enthusiast who recognized the importance of bringing top scientists to speak to the public in Roanoke.

In addition to the in-person event, people may watch He’s lecture via Zoom or live webcast on the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s website.

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Salem Museum to host talk on rail transport during WWII on May 12

Transportation of troops and equipment by rail was crucial to the success of the United States’ military efforts in World War II. In this talk, Col. Lewis “Bud” Jeffries will describe what Roanoke’s railroad—the Norfolk & Western Railway—accomplished during this very important period of American history. The talk will be presented at 7 p.m. May 12 at the Salem Museum, with a virtual option.

Masks are optional but recommended in a group setting; precautionary measures will be subject to CDC guidelines in place at the time. Mask requirements, if any, and links to the virtual option will be listed on the museum’s website,, on the morning of the talk.

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Opera Roanoke performs May 13 and 15

Opera Roanoke will close its 2021-2022 season with a work not seen or heard in Roanoke for well over a decade. Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” will be performed at the Jefferson Center on May 13 at 7:30 p.m. and May 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets and more information can be found at or by calling 540-982-2742. Ticket prices range from $20-$120 and discounts are offered for students. 

Joining Opera Roanoke as soloists for Verdi’s “Requiem” are soprano Amy Cofield; Wagnerian mezzo-soprano Dana Beth Miller; tenor Dinyar Vania, another Opera Roanoke veteran; and bass Kevin Thompson, who will make his debut appearance with Opera Roanoke. Joining the Opera Roanoke Chorus, directed by Jeffrey Sandborg of Roanoke College, is the Blacksburg Master Chorale, directed by Dwight Bigler of Virginia Tech. All musicians and singers will be conducted during the performances by Maestro Steven White, a Metropolitan Opera conductor who calls the Blue Ridge mountains “home.”

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Wytheville Community College graduates May 14

Wytheville Community College will celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2022 during three commencement ceremonies on May 14

Graduates of the college’s health professions programs will be recognized at 12:30 p.m. May 14. At 3:30 p.m. another ceremony will recognize the graduates from WCC’s occupational programs. The day will be rounded off with a 6 p.m. ceremony recognizing graduates of WCC’s transfer programs. Commencement events will be held at the Wytheville Meeting Center adjacent to WCC’s Wytheville campus.

WCC will celebrate with friends and families of 397 students during the three ceremonies. Many students in the Class of 2022 will be completing multiple degrees, diplomas and certificates; a total of 578 degrees, diplomas and certificates will be awarded. WCC will have 51 high school dual-enrollment students who will graduate with a degree, diploma or certificate that they have accomplished while working toward their high school diploma.

Each ceremony will feature a student speaker from the respective academic divisions: health professions, Sterling Payne, dental hygiene; occupational programs, Christina Shephard, administrative support technology, specialization in health information management; and transfer, Jeren Browder, science, specialization in engineering.

Pinning ceremonies for student who are graduating from health professions programs will also be held in person this year. The pinnings for practical nursing were held early on May 2, at the Crossroads Institute in Galax. Pinning ceremonies for WCC’s other healthcare professions programs will be held May 14, prior to the graduation ceremonies. Pinnings for the nursing program will be held at 9 a.m. at the Wytheville Meeting Center; pinnings for the physical therapy assistant program will be held at 10 a.m. at the Wytheville Meeting Center. Pinnings for phlebotomy will be held at 9 a.m. at the Wytheville Meeting Center, and pinnings for the dental hygiene program will begin at 10 a.m. at Snyder Auditorium in Grayson Hall on WCC’s Wytheville Campus.