The University of Virginia's College at Wise. Courtesy of UVa Wise.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside.

UVA Wise sees 204% increase in applicants

Nearly 3,300 students have applied to attend the University of Virginia’s College at Wise this fall, according to a release from the school. That’s the single largest number in nearly two decades and a 204 percent increase from last year.

A total of 1,920 Virginians applied from 122 of the Commonwealth’s 134 counties, the most ever from the Commonwealth to seek entrance to the College in Virginia’s far Southwest corner. 

Outside of Virginia, the most represented states are nearby North Carolina and Tennessee, which had 201 and 197 applicants respectively.

The Appalachian region has a big showing in the applicant pool. In 2018, the College announced a significantly reduced tuition rate for students living within the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) territory, which includes mountainous, rural counties ranging from New York to Mississippi.

This year, 533 students applied from ARC counties in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, West Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky.

To date, 1,255 prospective students have been accepted, a 41 percent rise from last year’s class. Of those, 413 have confirmed enrollment, nearly a 77 percent spike from 2022. The average grade point average of students who have confirmed attending UVA Wise in the fall is 3.646 out of a 4.0 average. The average GPA of all students who were accepted is 3.531. 

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Retired engineer and alumna to speak at UVA Wise graduation

Judy Harding, a retired engineer and Clinch Valley College alumna, will deliver the commencement address to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise Class of 2023. The College’s commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, in the David J. Prior Convocation Center. 

Harding earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from then-CVC. She then went on to receive her engineering degree from the University of Virginia. She began her career at Shell Oil in New Orleans, La.

In 1980, Harding moved to Calgary, Alberta, where she held various leadership roles as an engineer and manager, working for companies like Dome Petroleum and Talisman Energy Inc.

Before retiring, Harding became the president of Fortuna Energy Inc. and later vice president of Talisman Energy, Inc. 

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Left to right, Lilly Underwood, Eder Vasconcelos , Carson Gilmore, Alaina Partin, and Bryanna Egan.  Not pictured: Evan Cline.) Courtesy of Blacksburg Rotary Club.
Left to right, Lilly Underwood, Eder Vasconcelos, Carson Gilmore, Alaina Partin and Bryanna Egan. Not pictured: Evan Cline. Courtesy of Blacksburg Rotary Club.

Rotary Club of Blacksburg awards scholarships

The Rotary Club of Blacksburg recently awarded six scholarships to Montgomery County High School seniors for excellence in their Math and Science studies, and in Career and Technical Education (CTE) studies. The scholarships are given annually to students who excel in their particular field of study, exhibit good personal character, and who lives the Rotary Motto of “Service above Self.” 

Students are recommended by their teachers and selected by a committee of Rotarians. Each student receives a $1,000 scholarship to the school of their choice and the Rotary Club will place a children’s book in the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library in their honor. The students, their parents and teachers were treated to lunch at the Blacksburg Country Club and the students had the opportunity to tell club members about their plans for the future, while their teachers extolled their achievements as outstanding students at their respective schools.

Earning the CTE scholarships are Bryanna Egan, Alaina Partin and Eder Vasconcelos. 

Bryanna Egan is a graduating senior at Christiansburg High School and will study Nursing. After earning her LPN degree at NRCC, she intends to later pursue a RN degree.   

Alaina Partin is also a senior at Christiansburg High School and will study Nursing at NRCC. Continuing her education, she wants to complete master studies to become a Nurse Practitioner.

Eder Vasconcelos will be graduating from Eastern Montgomery High School, and plans to attend NRCC. Eder will utilize his CTE course work in robotics, materials science, and engineering design to pursue a career in welding.

The club also selected scholarship recipients for the Outstanding Math/Science Award. Earning that distinction is Carson Gilmore, Lilly Underwood and Evan Carson, who will all further their Math or Science education in the fall. 

Carson Gilmore is a senior at Blacksburg High School and will attend Rice University. His field of study will be Kinesiology, with plans to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Lilly Underwood will be graduating from Eastern Montgomery High School.  Lilly is enrolled in the Virginia Tech’s engineering program. She will be majoring in Civil Engineering. 

Evan Cline is a senior at Christiansburg High School and the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School. Evan will attend Virginia Tech and pursue a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics. 

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Virginia Tech names associate vice president for research computing

Dane Skow joined Virginia Tech on March 14 as the university’s new associate vice president for research computing. Skow succeeds Terry Herdman, who retired from Virginia Tech last year.

In this role, Skow will provide strategic leadership and vision, overseeing operations for high-performance and research computing infrastructure and services at Virginia Tech. He will also lead the Division of Information Technology’s Advanced Research Computing unit, which administers the university’s primary high-performance computing resources including large-scale data storage, visualization, and consulting services for the research community.

Skow brings with him over 20 years of experience in high-performance computing (HPC) in academic research settings, private industry consulting and operations, and at national laboratories including the U.S Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

For the past 11 years, Skow has also run his own HPC consulting firm, Dane Skow Enterprises, helping clients in big data and analytics industries with HPC system design, operations, management, and collaboration. Skow led efforts at Herculesstichting, a foundation funded by the Flemish government to develop collaborative scientific infrastructure in the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium. In that role, Skow developed a strategic plan to support and expand HPC resources and held the inaugural Flemish HPC Users Day in 2014. 

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