Virginia Tech campus. Photo by Lisa Rowan.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approves new master’s degree in applied data science

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors this month approved a resolution to create a Master of Science in applied data science. 

If approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the degree program would be expected to launch in 2024, according to a news release from the university.

The interdisciplinary program — built on core courses in computer science, mathematics, and statistics while drawing from many other disciplines — would be administered through the Academy of Data Science, housed within the College of Science.

The proposed degree also would offer electives from other departments across the university. Concentrations would allow students to focus on areas such as modeling and algorithms, geosciences, agricultural and applied economics, industrial and systems engineering, and forest resources and natural conservation.

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US Cellular announces winners of Black History Month art contest

US Cellular has announced the winners of its 16th annual Black History Month art contest with Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia.

Public voting for the finalists’ art was available online, and the winning artists received gift cards in the following amounts:

  • Aurelia Stoval, 8, from Rocky Mount received $250 for first place for a portrait of Mae Jemison
  • Trinity Dooley, 11, from Rocky Mount received $150 for second place for a portrait of Mae Jemison
  • Lynneisa Redd, 11, from Shawsville received $100 for third place for a portrait of Katherine Johnson  

Boys & Girls Club members were encouraged to create original pieces of artwork of important historical figures, world leaders, scientists and educators who have made vital contributions to the world of STEM. 

Ten finalists were chosen by representatives from the Boys & Girls Club, and the public was then able to vote for the winners.

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Ferrum nursing students collect personal care items for Franklin County Public Schools

Through April 3, Ferrum College senior nursing students are collecting personal care items for Franklin County Public Schools students.

Items needed include bandages, body wash, combs, cotton balls, cotton tip applicators, dental floss, deodorant, hair shampoo and conditioner, hairbrushes, lotion, menstrual products, mouthwash, ponytail holders, soap, socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste and underwear.

Items may be dropped off in collection boxes located at:

• Carter Bank & Trust locations in Boones Mill, Ferrum, Rocky Mount and Westlake

• Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, main lobby and medical office building

• Ferrum College, Franklin Hall and Vaughn Chapel

• Tri-Area Community Health at Ferrum

The collected items will be delivered April 10. 

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Four Martinsville teams advance to state competition in Odyssey of the Mind

Four teams from Martinsville City Public Schools will travel to Leesburg in April to
compete against students from across Virginia at the State Odyssey of the Mind tournament.

The teams, three from Martinsville Middle School and one from Patrick Henry Elementary
School, advanced to the state competition after placing first in their categories during the
Piedmont Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament in Rocky Mount on March 17, according to a news release from the school system.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving STEM after-school program for students in kindergarten. The Martinsville school division had six elementary teams and three middle school teams participating this year, according to Jill Collins, coordinator of STEM, Math and Science.

Teams from Martinsville have competed in the state competition every year since 2016. Last year, two teams from Patrick Henry Elementary School competed in the World Finals, where one team placed third for its division in its category.

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University of Lynchburg opens registration for summer youth programs

The University of Lynchburg will host two immersive college prep courses for rising ninth  through 12th graders this summer, as well as several summer camps.

Summer Scholars Program: Health Sciences, which premiered last year, will take place June 25-30. A new addition, Summer Scholars Program: Arts, will happen July 16-19.

The health sciences program is a weeklong class for students interested in pre-health fields. It will offer day and residential options and will explore health science fields including nursing, exercise physiology, physical therapy, public health and sport management.

The three-day arts program will offer pottery, graphic design, drawing and photography. The program culminates in a final exhibition of student works and a closing reception.

Participants in the debate and public speaking camp, which runs June 12-16, will hone their public speaking and analytical skills with certified instruction and coaching by the university’s award-winning Debate and Forensics Society.

Students ages 12-18 may participate in the weeklong camp or attend one or several of the afternoon masterclasses individually.

University of Lynchburg sports camps include various sports with day, weekend and weeklong sessions running from April through August.

Space for all programs is limited. For more information or to register, visit the Summer Camps website.