A regular at the Chick-fil-A in her hometown, Vance-Granville Community College Director of Student Success/QEP Coordinator Amy O’Geary recently observed a significant number of students from the college behind the counter at her restaurant of choice.
O’Geary counts at least 12 current VGCC students working at Chick-fil-A of Henderson, and she serves as the Academic & Career Coach, or advisor, for a number of them.
One of her advisees is Lane Phipps of Oxford, one of the assistant managers for the restaurant, who is preparing to graduate in May. Phipps balances working full-time and a full-time course load by taking VGCC classes during the evening, online and sometimes in a “hybrid” format that only requires meeting on campus one day a week. He said that Academic & Career Coaches like O’Geary have helped him navigate the college and prepare him for continued success.
“Advising at VGCC is absolutely fantastic,” Phipps said. “Whatever you need, the advisors are going to do everything they can to help you. They’ve helped me figure out what I want to do with my education and my career.” Phipps is set to transfer to East Carolina University after he graduates, to complete a degree in business administration. He hopes to continue working in the Chick-fil-A organization as the operator of his own franchise one day. At VGCC, he has made the Dean’s List and the President’s List and received an endowed academic scholarship.
“I’ve enjoyed learning and growing as a student,” Phipps said. “Both Vance-Granville and Chick-fil-A have grown me as a person.” He added that the fact that his advisor, O’Geary, is, as he put it, a “raving fan of Chick-fil-A” helped build their relationship. “She’s been great at answering my questions or directing me to the right person if she didn’t know the answer,” Phipps said. “She’s done an excellent job of directing and advising me on the classes that I should take.”
Phipps, who grew up in Oxford and graduated from J.F. Webb High School, said many Chick-fil-A employees come to VGCC because it is an affordable, accessible option to start their higher education, but there is another common bond. “Chick-fil-A employees are held to a high standard of customer service, and I think that the staff at Vance-Granville provide excellent examples of customer service, too,” Phipps said.
Like Phipps, most of the Chick-fil-A employees are in the College Transfer program, earning either an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science while they prepare to continue their education at a four-year university. Others are in technical career programs like Automotive Systems Technology and Welding. Still others are high school students taking College Transfer courses through the Career & College Promise (CCP) program.
According to O’Geary, her interactions with Phipps and other Chick-fil-A employees are representative of “Advising in 3D: Dream, Design and Discover,” the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). “Advising in 3D is an initiative that strives to improve student success through a culture of educating students on goal-setting and career planning,” O’Geary said. “I enjoy getting to know my students and helping them to achieve their goals. The rapport that students and their advisors develop, both in formal settings and informally, such as when I see them at their workplace, is an important tool in helping students feel confident, comfortable and empowered to get the most of their college experience.”
O’Geary also noted that Josh Towne, owner/operator of the local Chick-fil-A franchise, is now on the VGCC Endowment Fund Board of Directors, further enhancing the partnership of the college and the local business. He has established a scholarship at the college, and separately, several of his employees have received scholarships through Chick-fil-A.