The incoming Class of 2026. Courtesy of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Here’s a round-up of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Want more education news? There’s no full-time education reporter west of Richmond. You can help change that. Help fund us.

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Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine saw record number of applicants

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine officially welcomed members of its Class of 2026 this week. The 49 students were selected from a record number of 6,916 applicants as VTCSOM remains one of the most selective medical schools in the country, according to a release from the school. The number of applicants was an increase of more than 500 from the previous year.

VTCSOM enrolled a record 31 female students, accounting for 63 percent of the class. About 55 percent of last year’s entering class was female. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the percentage of female students nationally has steadily increased over the past decade from 46.4 percent in 2012-13 to 55.5 percent in 2021-22. 

Students in the class represent 16 states, with one each from Washington, D.C., and Quebec. Ten are from Virginia, and two are staying in their hometown of Roanoke. The students come from 37 undergraduate institutions with three having attended Virginia Tech.

Among other class highlights:

  • Average student age: 25.
  • Number of students who have earned master’s degrees: 17.
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.6.
  • Average MCAT score: 512.
  • Number of students who were reapplicants: 13.

Disclosure: Carlion Clinic is one of our donors but donors have no say in news decisions. See our policy.

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The new logo. Courtesy of CARC.

Virginia College Fund changes name

The Virginia College Fund has changed its name to the Commonwealth Alliance for Rural Colleges and added a new member, the Appalachian School of Law.

 The organization has supported rural access institutions by providing scholarships since 1965. 

“Our mission is to provide our member institutions the resources to ensure students have access to an affordable, value-based education that prepares them for success in a global economy,” said Chairman Adam Peachee in a statement. “Our support benefits students from rural communities, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. We feel our new name more accurately reflects the institutions and people we serve.”

Other members include Averett University, Bluefield University, Eastern Mennonite University, and Ferrum College.

The alliance also unveiled a new logo. Redball Advertising in Roanoke assisted with the rebranding and the logo was designed by Michael Craighead of Nero Digital Design.

The Commonwealth Alliance for Rural Colleges cultivates donors and board members committed to expanding access to higher education. The Alliance’s support comes from individuals, corporations, foundations, and trusts. Every dollar raised goes directly to the member schools for student support and is distributed according to an equitable funding formula based on enrollment. With the competitive financial landscape for higher education and the average package of financial assistance for member schools exceeding $22,000 per student, the Alliance acts as a critical link between donors wishing to support higher education for rural students and institutions. Since its inception, the Alliance has contributed over $26,000,000 toward educational attainment for generations of Virginians.  

Learn more about the organization at

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Sarah Bowman. Courtesy of Ferrum College.

Ferrum hires new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement

Sarah H. Bowman is Ferrum College’s new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement. In her new role, Bowman will provide leadership, direction, and coordination for internal and external communications, marketing, alumni relations, and special programs and events for the institution.

An Alleghany County native and graduate of Covington High School, Bowman received her Bachelor of Arts in history and English from the University of Virginia in 2003 and her Juris Doctor from Campbell University in 2007.

Bowman was most recently employed by Campbell University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lillington, North Carolina, where she served as executive director of External Affairs and Alumni Engagement since 2020. Previously held positions at the school include director of Alumni Engagement and Health Policy beginning in 2017 and director of Marketing and Communications beginning in 2014.

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Richard Copenhaver, left, with Wytheville Community College President Dean Sprinkle. Courtesy of WCC.

Wytheville Community College recognizes Copenhaver

Wytheville Community College has presented an Honorary Associate’s Degree in Humane Letters to Dr. Richard Copenhaver. This is an honor bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the progress and development of WCC.   

Copenhaver graduated from WCC in 1975 with a certificate in Dental Assisting. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Old Dominion University in 1977, and then earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Virginia Commonwealth University – Medical College of Virginia in 1984. Following completion of his D.D.S. degree, Copenhaver returned to Wytheville to practice dentistry.

Copenhaver has actively supported WCC. He served on the Dental Assisting and the Dental Hygiene Advisory Committees. He also served on the WCC Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors from 1998 to 2018 as a representative for Wythe County, eventuallly serving as president. Heand his wife, Sandy, have also been generous supporters of the WCC Scholarship Foundation. In recognition of his service to WCC, Dr. Copenhaver was named to the WCC Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honor in 2014.

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