Industrial maintenance graduates at Wytheville Community College. Courtesy of WCC.
Industrial maintenance graduates at Wytheville Community College. Courtesy of WCC.

Here’s a round-up of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

Wytheville Community College graduates first students from Industrial Maintenance Program

Twenty-four students recently completed Wytheville Community College’s new Industrial Maintenance Program, which began during the Fall semester of 2022.

The program, designed to certify students in industrial maintenance technology, offers certifications in electrical, mechanical, fluid power, sensors, PLC and robotics. These students completed a semester-long program and were recognized during a ceremony in WCC’s Snyder Auditorium on December 15, 2022.  

WCC’s Industrial Maintenance Program is designed to service all industries located in WCC’s service area and will continue to offer introductory training in electrical, mechanical, hydraulics, pneumatics, sensors, PLC and FANUC robotics. The evening cohort for the program begins February 7, 2023, and runs until May 25, 2023.

WCC welcomed new students to the Industrial Maintenance program for the Spring 2023 semester including a partnership with Wythe County Public Schools (WCPS) in which a group of seniors are attending and receiving this training. There are currently seven WCPS students who began the new semester on January 3, 2023.

Neal King, WCC Coordinator of Industrial Maintenance Training, said in a statement: “There has been a need for this industrial maintenance training in this area for a while now. With BlueStar coming into the area, the need is even greater.”  

Students and employers who are interested in the Industrial Maintenance Program or other Short-Term Training classes should contact Lisa Lowe, WCC Workforce Development Credentials and Career Coach, at (276) 223-4867 or  

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Student Registered Apprenticeship Showcase will be held at Salem Civic Center

The annual Student Registered Apprenticeship Showcase will be held January 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Salem Civic Center.  This showcase provides students who may be interested in applying for a student registered apprenticeship next school year to meet with partner businesses and learn more about each of the apprenticeships offered.

Managed by the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) in Virginia, the registered apprenticeship program offers a work-based learning model for 16- to 18-year-old students.  Student apprentices work toward earning credentials associated with each business through employment training and instruction. Apprentices are employed by the company. Once the student completes the program, they are eligible for a Journeyman’s license. This is a widely recognized credential that indicates the student has relevant training and is on the path to becoming a master in their industry.

The Student Registered Apprenticeship program began in the Roanoke Valley about six years ago with a pilot program by Roanoke County Public Schools, the Va. Department of Labor and Industry and the Western Virginia Water Authority. Salem City Public Schools and Roanoke City Public Schools joined to create a regional program a few years later. Today, more than two dozen businesses have hosted student apprenticeships, and many students have been hired by their partner business to work full time after graduation.

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 Meghan Sedovy, Kari Stanley, and Kenneth Young. Courtesy of VTC.
Meghan Sedovy, Kari Stanley, and Kenneth Young. Courtesy of VTC.

Three Virginia Tech graduate students awarded American Heart Association fellowships

Three graduate students in Virginia Tech’s Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health Graduate Program (TBMH) have been awarded prestigious American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowships to support their research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Meghan Sedovy, a graduate research assistant in the Johnstone Lab, and Kari Stanley and Kenneth Young, graduate research assistants in the Smyth and Lamouille labs, were each awarded two-year, $65,000 fellowships.

The awards enhance the research and clinical training of promising students seeking careers as scientists, physician-scientists, or clinician scientists interested in improving global cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and brain health.

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Virginia Tech research team to study mental health accessibility and suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth

Jody Russon, a family therapist and assistant professor of human development and family science at Virginia Tech, has received a $750,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, to begin a project studying suicide prevention and mental health accessibility for LGBTQ+ youth.

Ultimately, Russon hopes the team’s work will create a system where LGBTQ+ centers feel comfortable referring youth with suicidal thoughts to behavioral health centers in their immediate communities.

Her eight-person team plans on adapting Behavioral Health-Works, a program that is currently used in schools, hospitals, and a variety of other settings, for LGBTQ+ centers. It is a proven, web-based youth suicide prevention program, and offers technology, screening, training, policy support, and a learning collaborative to create a sustainable system for identification, triage, referral and follow-up. It was developed by Guy Diamond, a director and associate professor with the Center for Family Intervention Science at Drexel University, and his colleagues.

Russon and her team have partnered with two LGBTQ+ organizations, Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia and Diversity Camp, Inc., in Roanoke, along with their respective behavioral health partnering sites, Thomas Jefferson University and Carilion Clinic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services. 

Along with Diamond, Russon is joined in this effort by co-investogators, Tina Savla, a professor of human development and family science with the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech. Russon is also joined by co-investigators who serve as representatives from each of the four collaborating sites central to this project. They are Judy Morrissey from Mazzoni Center; Matthew Wintersteen and Zachariah Pranckun from Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel Medical College; Laura Farmer from Diversity Camp, Inc.; and Katherine Liebesny from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  

In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. Sexual and gender minority adolescents experience significantly higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts than their heterosexual and cisgender peers.