Friday, July 27, 2012

Helping autistic Stafford teen changed Germanna nursing student's life

The Free Lance-Star

Getting hired as a personal-care attendant for a teen with autism changed Ann Marie Brown’s career path.

She was a sophomore majoring in history at the University of Mary Washington last year when she applied for a job helping 18-year-old Russell Cole practice such life skills as loading the dishwasher at his Stafford County home.

Two months after working with him, I had a revelation,” said Brown. “I’ve always been really interested in psychology, so finding a very practical way of using it was very exciting.”

Last fall she switched from UMW to Germanna Community College, where she’s enrolled in the nursing program. She plans to become a psychiatric nurse.

“Just observing behavior and trying to modify it is exciting to me,” Brown said. “There are a lot of people who need these services.”

She’s not alone in recognizing the demand. The disAbility Resource Center, 409 Progress St. in Fredericksburg, has been holding workshops for people who want to learn more about becoming consumer-directed, or personal-care, assistants.

The next one will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Smoot Library, 8562 Dahlgren Road in King George County. Registration is required, and can be made by contacting Kim Lett at 540/373-2559 or

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

VIDEO: Signing of Germanna-UMW agreements a "win-win." Here's what they mean for students.

Germanna Community College President David A. Sam and University of Mary Washington President Richard V. Hurley have developed a close working relationship that's paying off for area students.  Watch video by Dan Telvock above of them talking about that relationship and signing historic agreements today that will make degrees more accessible and affordable. MORE   
And read today's report by Pam Gould here on what those agreements will mean to students.
For more, go to

Thursday, July 19, 2012

GCC, UMW agreements make degrees more affordable, accessible

Review  co-enrollment agreement and the direct transfer agreement.

The Free Lance-Star
Germanna Community College students who meet eligibility requirements can soon begin taking courses at the University of Mary Washington.
 UMW President Rick Hurley and Germanna President David Sam will  formalize the agreement next Wednesday in George Washington Hall on the UMW campus in Fredericksburg.
 The presidents are also expected to sign an agreement that will make it easier for Germanna students to transfer into UMW’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies program.
 The agreements resulted from ongoing dialogue between Hurley and Sam, who said that more Germanna students transfer to UMW than to any other four-year institution.
 “We are delighted to partner with Germanna to make these programs available to qualified community college students,” Hurley said in a prepared statement.
 Sam said the agreements strengthen the partnership between the two colleges and benefit students academically and financially.
 Germanna students who have completed at least 15 credit hours of coursework and have earned a minimum 3.25 grade-point average will be eligible to take up to five classes at UMW under the “co-enrollment” agreement.
 Students will pay Germanna tuition rates for the UMW courses, and those credits will count toward the associate degree if the students earn a C or higher, Sam said.

Monday, July 9, 2012

USA Today story on war hero Germanna student helps ease stigmas

(Video may take a moment to load.)

Daniel Rodriguez’ fight was far from over after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan that saw him wounded and decorated for valor.

The Germanna Community College student was a football star at Brooke Point High School in Stafford, but he was too small for a football scholarship. His father suffered a heart attack and passed away four days after Daniel graduated. Without a scholarship or a father, he felt he couldn't afford college, so he enlisted in the Army

 In Afghanistan, when his unit of 60 men came under attack by 300 Taliban, he saw a buddy shot in the head. Daniel exposed himself to enemy fire to help his friend and drag him out of the line of fire. Then he realized his buddy was dead. Daniel was shot in the shoulder and took shrapnel in both legs.

He returned home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and night terrors. Using the G.I. Bill, he's been attending  Germanna, and he credits he GCC with helping him decompress.

 Last week, USA Today featured Daniel in a story about the way the Army has changed its approach to dealing with mental illness due to the high suicide rate among active duty soldiers and veterans.

"It was tough for me to go to counseling," he told USA Today’s Gail Sheehy. "But as I opened up more and more, it helped me to get my feelings out and understand it's OK to talk about it to other people, my friends, my mom — don't bottle it up."

Monday, July 2, 2012

'Something almost magical' about GCC Center for Workforce & Community Education Video Game Maker class for grade schoolers

The Free Lance-Star
Something almost magical happened.
After about an hour of struggling, an army of Pac-Men suddenly raced across 14 computer screens. Their arrival was heralded by joyous shouts.
"It's going through my maze!" the budding software programmers exclaimed.
And just like that, 14 young brains had learned how to make magic in the form of a basic video game.
The 14 students, who ranged from first-graders to eighth-graders, were participating in the new Video Game Maker class at the Riverside Center of  Germanna Community College.

Their instructor, Ben Sherman, is a retired mechanical engineer who got bored and rejoined the workforce as a business and career coordinator for Germanna. He hopes the class will inspire his students to explore engineering, math or science.
"I love to have kids involved with things like this," he said. "We need more engineers and mathematicians."
The four-day camp met every day last week, Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until noon each day. The students moved from learning what a pixel is toward more advanced game-creation functions. On the third day of camp, they learned about making maze-style games like Pac-Man.
Free Lance-Star story: 

Rising first- to sixth-graders are learning to design video games through Germanna's Center for Workforce & Community Education. The class, and Legos Engineering classes including Collision Cars, will be offered at the GCC Daniel Center in Culpeper in July and August. The classes are intended to stimulate interest in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) at an early age

Video Game Maker class information: Legos Engineering: Lego Engineering classes information: