U.S. Representative George Holding visited the main campus of Vance-Granville Community College near Henderson on Aug. 22. It was the first visit to the college by Holding, who is in his first term representing North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, which includes parts of Vance, Granville and Franklin counties. The congressman was accompanied by his district director, Alice McCall.
After receiving an overview of the college from VGCC President Stelfanie Williams and other senior administrators, Holding and McCall took a campus tour, conducted by two student ambassadors, Theresa Chiplis of Norlina and Ruthie Davis of Warrenton. The tour began with the biotech lab, where Dr. Danny Monroe, head of VGCC’s Bioprocess Technology program, showed the congressman the biodiesel fuel being produced by his students and talked about high-tech manufacturing job opportunities for graduates. Proceeding to the college’s Automotive Systems Technology lab, Holding met with program head Fred Brewer and John Bunch of Henderson, an owner of local auto parts stores who serves on the advisory committee for the Automotive program. Brewer discussed the changes in the industry due to the rising popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles and the increased sophistication of the computers inside cars and trucks. In the Welding Technology lab, program head Rusty Pace and advisory committee member Randy Massengill of Machine and Welding Supply Company in Raleigh discussed the fact that VGCC students have enjoyed a 100% passing rate on American Welding Society qualification exams in recent years. VGCC Director of Industry Services & Emerging Technologies Eddie Ferguson also informed the congressman about a recent training partnership between the Welding program and Altec Industries of Creedmoor. The final VGCC lab on the tour was the facility for the Pharmacy Technology program, which recently expanded to offer a two-year degree, in response to changing workforce demands. Greeting Holding and McCall were Pharmacy Technology program head Carla May, instructor Brenda Harvey, and advisory committee member John Felts, the Director of Pharmacy Services at Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner. Finally, the congressman saw the college’s Building 10 (also known as the Corporate Campus), located on Poplar Creek Road just across the street from VGCC’s main operations. This facility is being renovated to house education and training programs. Also on this property is a high concentration photovoltaic solar module system installed by Semprius, which serves as a testing model for the manufacturer and provides energy to the college. Rep. Holding then joined VGCC officials on a tour of the Semprius production facility, located opposite Interstate 85 from the college campus.
“Community colleges are force multipliers,” Holding said, noting VGCC’s strong partnerships and services that enhance economic development. “Investments in community colleges pay off big time.”