Success Stories

Meet Kaitlyn

Following the Signs to a New Career

Day after day, Kaitlyn would see happy almost-graduates walk through the office where she worked to pick up their caps and gowns, ready for the day they could walk across the stage in their new regalia gear. “It was hard to watch children and young adults coming in and picking …

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Meet Shannon

Coming Full Circle: From Student to ECE Navigator

We’ve had a few students come through our doors to earn their associate degrees in early childhood education, only to return as a teacher to help the next wave of ECE educators enter the field. Shannon Graves is an early childhood education graduate from Danville Community College. She went on …

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Meet Xenia

Heeding her Calling by Becoming an Early Childhood Educator

Not many of us know what we want to be when we grow up, but for Xenia Diaz, she knew from a young age what her path was destined to be. Diaz is an El Salvadorian immigrant, who came to the United States when she was a young girl. As …

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Meet Sophia

Not Even Cancer Can Hold Her Back

Sophia is dedicated to the field of early childhood education and there is nothing, not even stage four cancer, that will prevent her from following her dream. Sophia’s experience in child care started in Maryland, where she worked in an in-home daycare center. Every day was better than the day …

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Meet Gwen

From Scared Student to Confident in the Classroom

Gwen was like a lot of us. Before she started working in a childcare center, she was nervous to be around small kids. “I didn’t want to work with young kids – they scared me a little bit,” Gwen said. “I didn’t have much experience with little kids, but I …

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Meet Christine

Messy and muddy? Count her in.

Christine doesn’t mind a mess. In fact, she prefers it. “Anything that involves a smock, I’m into it,” she said. Christine just graduated with her associate degree in Early Childhood Education from Danville Community College, and you can tell by talking to her that she’s the “fun” teacher. She began …

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Meet Arketa

Putting her Skills to Use – In her Living Room

Our living room is usually a place where the family gathers to watch TV, maybe play a board game if the vibe is right, but for Arketa, her living room is where four children come every day for circle time, singing nursery rhymes and painting and crafts. Arketa has run …

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Meet Ann

Exceptional Teacher, Exceptional Children

For Ann, her passion for working with children with exceptionalities hits close to home, and its her familial connection that has inspired her to pursue a career in early childhood education. Ann lives in a rural part of Virginia, and when her oldest son was told he couldn’t receive counseling …

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Meet Anam

Being a Role Model for her Son, and her Classroom

When Anam’s young son started school, she decided she needed a change. A high school dropout and an immigrant to the U.S., Anam found that change in the early childhood education program at Danville Community College. “I’m a mother, I have a little boy – I wanted to become a …

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Meet Lori

More Than Just Babysitters

Lori Belcher spent 22 years as a school bus driver before entering the Early Childhood Education program at New River Community College. Before that, she had a wide variety of jobs including managing a horse ranch, working on a dairy farm and even working on flight instruments for fighter jets. …

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Meet Paula

It’s Never Too Late

Paula Perez had always loved working with children. She’d been working with K4 (preschool age) children as an assistant, which is how she discovered her passion for working with that particular age group. She loved to watch them grow and learn, and she especially reveled in those particular moments when …

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Meet Kayla

Finding Her Tribe

Kayla got her start working with children while teaching Sunday school and vacation Bible school through her church. Through that experience, she decided working with children was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. In fact, she felt her calling so much so that she enrolled …

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Meet Lisa

Learning New Skills for Work and Home

For Lisa Mullins, the decision to change direction in her career came when she realized she was only seeing her kids as they left the house to get on the bus each morning. In her 15-year career at a government-contracted company, Lisa spent a lot of time commuting to her …

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Meet Angela

“Nevertheless, She Persisted”

Like most women, Angela Barnes babysat a lot of kids when she was young, and along the way, she discovered that she had had a knack for caring for them. But it wasn’t until a life-altering accident changed her family dynamic that she found herself in the field of childcare, …

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Meet Brandie

It’s Possible to Have it All

Brandie’s current position as a child and adolescent case manager at Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services is a perfect balance of everything she was looking for in a career. Her job brings together the best of both worlds—pursuing her passion of working with children with exceptionalities through fieldwork tempered with a bit …

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Meet Caitlin

Teaching R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the Classroom

Caitlin Branscome understands little ones. She knows it’s not about shaking fingers and keeping them in line, but it’s about understanding how children ages 0-8 process information and communicating to them in a way that allows them to learn and grow. “Before, you’d hear about parents spanking their children. But …

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Meet Jessica

Overcoming Adversity to Achieving Career Dreams

When Jessica Underwood was a little girl, her mother ran an in-home childcare center, and so it was from an early age that Jessica knew she wanted to care for others. “Since losing my parents several years ago, I wanted to go back to school to pursue teaching,” she said. “That …

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Meet Jazmine

Working Hard Pays Off

You get a good feeling when you hear an employer say, “Do you really have to go?” That’s the sign of a strong, hard-working employee – one that an employer hates to lose. And those six words are something Jazmine has heard from her summer employer the last couple of …

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Meet Alli

Benefitting From a One-on-One Approach to Learning

Figuring out your next step after high school can be tough. Do you enter the workforce right away? What about a four-year university? Or maybe courses at a local community college would be a better fit?  For Alli, enrolling at New River Community College turned out to be the perfect …

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Meet Talitha

Paying it Forward Through Early Childhood Education

What is your earliest memory? Is it playing in the backyard, picking dandelions? Maybe it’s celebrating a birthday. Or maybe an interaction you had with your first teacher. For those of us who went to a pre-k or childcare program, chances are, there is often an early experience with a …

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Meet Traci

When Student Becomes the Teacher

As students at Danville Community College start their Early Childhood Education classes, they likely will be far from intimated. With Traci Daniel at the front of the classroom, they’re in good hands. Why? Because 16 years earlier, she was sitting in their exact seat. Once she realized the four-year university …

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Meet Audra

Following Family Footsteps into the Classroom

For Audra Mayhew, the daughter of a school teacher, becoming a teacher herself was never something she saw herself doing. Audra aspired to be independent and discover something new, but she wasn’t sure what that something was. She considered culinary school, modeling – she even had the paperwork squared away …

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Meet Rachel

Following Her Faith into the Classroom

For as long as she could remember, Rachel Hodge has loved children. She spent many years teaching children within her ministry, dreaming some day of having some of her own. But a few years ago, she got a disheartening medical diagnosis: she needed massive fibroids removed, a procedure that ultimately …

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Meet Sherry

Career Switcher: From Banking to the Classroom

Sometimes, it takes a job or two to find the right career, the one where your true passion lies. That was the case for Sherry. After high school she didn’t want to go to college, so she headed straight into the workforce, serving as a teller at her local bank for eight years.

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