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Opinion — Teamwork and gratitude

As leaves and temperatures fall, people bundle up in sweaters and jackets. Warm camaraderie overcomes the chill in the air. This seasonal change provides an apt setting for the annual observance of Thanksgiving, and I feel truly grateful for so many of life’s blessings.

I am thankful for the opportunity to work among a supportive team of colleagues at Southside Virginia Community College, and I am thankful for our students, people who come to SVCC from all walks of life. As they pursue academic attainment and job training options, sometimes in the face of tremendous challenges, their dedication provides inspiration.

SVCC’s faculty, staff and students are perhaps the most visible face of our college, but they are not the only members of our college’s team. Many volunteers also work behind the scenes, diligently serving on various boards that help us fulfill our mission. I am especially grateful for the dedication and hard work of these too-often unrecognized team members.

The Local College Board is one example. Its members provide guidance to ensure that SVCC delivers instructional programming to meet a diverse range of needs. Another example is the SVCC Foundation Board that guides activities to provide money, personnel, and other resources that help strengthen the college and its programs, including scholarships for students and other contributions to educational and administrative needs. In addition, Advisory Boards in specific program areas help ensure that student experiences are properly aligned with current needs among local employers.

Carla Sanford, RN, BSN, who serves as clinical nurse manager of L.D.R.P. Unit, is a member of one such board. She explains her role. “The advisory board allows me to collaborate with SVCC faculty, staff and students so we can continue to improve the student’s learning experience.”

John Lee, president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, EMPOWER Broadband, Inc. and EMPOWER Telecom, Inc. serves on another Advisory Board. He says, “Through their utilization of business leaders on strategic oversight panels such as the Power Line Workers School (PLWS) Advisory Committee, SVCC receives valuable state-of-the-industry input that allows them to adjust or amend their programs to better fit the most recent and constantly changing industry needs for those positions. For example, at the PLWS, they have made curriculum and program adjustments based on the very input they are receiving from those who are actually hiring their graduates. It’s another win-win scenario for the very successful business/education partnership we built while establishing the school, a place that is literally changing the lives of those who enroll and succeed there.”

Robbie Pecht, a member of the Foundation Board, sums up the feelings of many when he says, “SVCC is such a vital part of our community and I am honored to serve on the SVCC Foundation Board. I see our work to assist the college and SVCC students as an investment.”

I am grateful for the dedication of community-minded people such as Mr. Pecht, Mr. Lee and Ms. Sanford. Their willingness to be involved on behalf of our students and the communities we serve stands as an example, and their excellent leadership skills help us stay on course.

I am surrounded by people who continually give me reasons to be thankful. As you gather with your family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope your list of blessings is as long as mine.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans 10 counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.