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Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative

Program Description

Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI) was created to address the educational attainment levels in the rural localities served by 14 of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. The goals of the RVHI are to reduce the number of rural residents who lack a high school diploma and double the number of rural residents with an associate degree or higher or other college certification. Strategies employed to achieve these goals are placing full-time career coaches in rural high schools to assist lower- and middle-income families in navigating higher education options and to award scholarship incentives to remove barriers to achieving success in higher education

Program Address






Primary Population Served

Rural Residents

Success Stories

Marquis P was unemployed when he came to PHCC to inquire about the CDL program. He’d been interested in the CDL for some time but did not have the funds to enroll. His uncle who had graduated from the CDL program at PHCC told him there were grants available to assist with funding. Marquis met with the FastForward Career Coach and found he was eligible for assistance with tuition. However, even with tuition, he could not afford his DOT physical, drug screen, and traveling to the training in South Boston. Luckily, Marquis qualified for help from RVHI. On February 28, 2019, Marquis graduated from the training with his Commercial Driver’s License and multiple job offers. SUCCESS STORY From DSLCC “I have a future Nursing student that I have been working with. I helped her with all of her Dual Enrollment preparation, FAFSA, scholarship application, contacting the RN Program Head, what questions to ask, and information to bring. Students had an assignment in their senior English class to write a note to someone they appreciate. She wrote me the following message: ‘Ms. Keyser - I just want to take this time to tell you how much I appreciate you. You have helped me out so much with getting ready for college. You are so helpful to my mom and I. Thank you for making me feel comfortable and helping me with decisions and your inputting your advice.’ She also gave me a bracelet for Christmas with a snowflake charm!” -Marsha Keyser, Career Coach for BCHS and CHS From MECC I have had the privilege of working with two students this year for the first time in my nine years as a Career Navigator helping assist and advise them for their AAS General Studies degree completion while in high school. These two students: Kaitlyn Cox and Nicholas Arney have worked extensively with me since their sophomore year. Lee high school is a very remote high school that doesn’t have a wide range of dual enrollment classes on their campus, so these two students have had to take online courses, classes at their high school, and on campus at MECC. I began meeting with them their sophomore year closely and assisting them with the dual enrollment process: application, placement testing, and advising them for a specific plan each year while in high school. Both students are in the top ten of their graduating class and will graduate from MECC with their associate’s degree prior to their high school graduation. During this time, I have also completed career assessments, interest inventories, scholarship searches and applications, financial aid assistance, and even coordinated job shadowing experiences. Both students intend to go in to the medical field and have been accepted to their first choice college. -Cheryl Tankersley, Career Navigator