MECC Student Tests Positive for COVID-19

Mountain Empire Community College has been notified that a student has tested positive for COVID-19. The student is self-isolated, according to CDC and local public health guidelines. Contact tracing is being coordinated through the local health department in conjunction with the college. Those persons who may have come into close contact with the positive case are notified directly by the Health Department and given further instructions to prevent the spread.

As part the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requirements for all colleges and universities, Mountain Empire Community College is required to send this initial Emergency Notification to students and employees of a positive COVID-19 case(s) on campus. Additional information regarding COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, testing and academic planning can be found at the college’s COVID-19 Prevention and Response webpage at

With the increase in COVID-19 cases in our local community and state, MECC would like to remind the community to continue to practice healthy habits:

  • Practice social distancing by putting at least 6 feet between yourself and others, including covering your  mouth and nose with a cloth face covering, especially in public places where 6 feet of separation is not feasible.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and then disinfect frequently used surfaces.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes with a tissue or inside of your elbow.
  • Monitor your health for symptoms and stay home if you’re sick.

COVID-19 affects all age groups – even college-aged students – and the social distancing guidelines, including wearing face coverings when around others, are to protect yourself and care for others as well.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control, the LENOWISCO Health District, and the MECC COVID-19 Prevention and Response page.

Unique partnership in Appalachia will bring 10 megawatts of solar, new jobs to Southwest Virginia

Norton, Va. — The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia today announced an innovative partnership with Secure Futures to provide commercial-scale solar installations in the coalfield region that are specifically designed to employ local workers. The initiative, “Securing Solar For Southwest Virginia,” will provide affordable solar solutions for businesses, nonprofits and local governments in the seven-county region, while building local workforce skills and opportunities for well-paying jobs in the growing solar energy sector.

The announcement comes at a critical time in Southwest Virginia, which was already economically stressed from the coal industry’s decline prior to the current Covid-driven recession. Additionally, today is the first day of the annual Southwest Virginia Economic Forum, where the idea for the Solar Workgroup began in 2015. Since then, the workgroup has boosted enthusiasm for solar energy in the historic coalfield region and laid the groundwork to grow solar development through public outreach, research, training and policy. Last year, eight Southwest Virginia communities achieved national recognition through SolSmart designation for their initiatives to encourage growth of the local solar market. 

The new solar partnership — an alliance of nonprofit, state government, educational and private sector entities that is unique in the Central Appalachia region — will take these efforts to the next level. The partners are working to achieve significant goals over the next three years, including the construction of 10 megawatts of solar in the coalfield region by the end of 2023, and the creation of 15 new, full-time jobs in solar construction, sales and marketing, entrepreneurship and small business development.

“Secure Futures brings innovative solutions for solar customers and a track record of excellent customer service to the partnership,” said Chelsea Barnes, New Economy Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, a co-convener of the workgroup. “We are excited to work with a team so dedicated to ensuring that the economic benefits of the solar industry come to Southwest Virginia.”

“We applaud the Solar Workgroup for seeking to bring solar jobs into the region, offering well-paying jobs in a rapidly growing industry that falls into the category of essential services in today’s pandemic environment,” said Tony Smith, CEO of Secure Futures, based in Staunton, Va. “In order to help ensure that these jobs come to Southwest Virginia, we need to work collaboratively with the incumbent electric utilities — including APCo, Old Dominion Power and Powell Valley Electric Cooperative — to apply the standards and expectations of the 2019 Electric Co-op Net Metering legislation and the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act. Key to our work will be solar Power Purchase Agreements and net metering solutions for commercial-scale customers.”

Secure Futures will provide start-up funds for Lonesome Pine Solar and hire a Southwest-Virginia-based project coordinator. Additionally, Secure Futures is awarding a $50,000 grant to Mountain Empire Community College to fund solar installation apprenticeships and faculty mentoring. Lonesome Pine Solar will employ graduates of the college’s programs and provide the installation services for the partnership’s projects. 

“Mountain Empire Community College is excited about the partnership and opportunity to bring more solar installation projects to our service region,” said Dr. Kristen Westover, president of MECC. “The partnership will provide MECC’s Energy Technology program students and graduates with incredible new hands-on opportunities in solar installation.”

Securing Solar For Southwest Virginia builds on the established partnership between Secure Futures and Lonesome Pine Solar, LLC, headquartered in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. 

“I’m pleased and honored to join this innovative business model to establish local solar power businesses where none currently exist,” said Glen “Skip” Skinner, president and manager of Lonesome Pine Solar. “In partnership with Mountain Empire Community College, Lonesome Pine Solar hopes to help students move from the academic world to applying their knowledge and skills developed to become gainfully employed in the solar industry, a new economy for Southwest Virginia.”

“This partnership directly contributes to our Clean Energy Virginia efforts. While we continue to advance the renewable energy portfolio to meet the goals outlined in the Virginia Clean Economy Act, organizations like the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia play a vital role in fostering these opportunities,” said John Warren, director of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. “DMME is glad to be a part of this group to also identify workforce development needs and help to create new jobs in the clean energy marketplace.” 

“This innovative and strategic collaboration promises to accelerate solar development across our region and wouldn’t be possible without coordination among private sector, education, nonprofit and government partners. This partnership will provide building owners a real opportunity to leverage the advantages of solar while supporting and growing the local economy,” said Bryan Phipps, vice president and chief development officer at People Inc., a co-convener of the workgroup. 

Nonprofits, businesses and local governments interested in installing solar sign up for an initial consultation, register for an interested building owner webinar on September 30, and find more information at Individuals interested in potential training opportunities with Mountain Empire Community College and Lonesome Pine Solar can sign up for future announcements at the same link.


Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia 

The Solar Workgroup is comprised of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions, and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the coalfield counties of Virginia. The Workgroup is co-convened by the UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc., and Appalachian Voices, with facilitation from Dialogue + Design Associates.


Secure Futures, LLC

As a market and policy leader, Secure Futures builds, owns, manages and funds affordable Resilient Solar Solutions® for hospitals, schools and businesses. The company combines state-of–the-art solar technology with an innovative business model to make commercial scale solar readily affordable in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, helping customers to realize the economic, environmental, and community benefits of solar energy.  In 2017, Secure Futures became a Certified B Corporation®.

MECC Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Mountain Empire Community College has been notified that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is self-isolated, according to CDC and local public health guidelines. Contact tracing is being coordinated through the local health department in conjunction with the college. Those persons who may have come into close contact with the positive case are notified directly by the Health Department and given further instructions to prevent the spread.

MECC will continue with previously scheduled classes and classes will continue as they have this semester.  There is no change to the staff schedules and access to the campus as a part of this notification.

As part the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requirements for all colleges and universities, Mountain Empire Community College is required to send this initial Emergency Notification to students and employees of a positive COVID-19 case(s) on campus. Additional information regarding COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, testing and academic planning can be found at the college’s COVID-19 Prevention and Response webpage at

With the increase in COVID-19 cases in our local community and state, MECC would like to remind students and staff to continue to practice healthy habits:

  • Practice social distancing by putting at least 6 feet between yourself and others, including covering your  mouth and nose with a cloth face covering, especially in public places where 6 feet of separation is not feasible.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and then disinfect frequently used surfaces.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes with a tissue or inside of your elbow.
  • Monitor your health for symptoms and stay home if you’re sick.

COVID-19 affects all age groups – even college-aged students – and the social distancing guidelines, including wearing face coverings when around others, are to protect yourself and care for others as well.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control, the LENOWISCO Health District, and the MECC COVID-19 Prevention and Response page.

MECC Receives $43,200 Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative Award

Richmond – Mountain Empire Community College has received the prominent Gerald L. Baliles Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative Award from the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE) to increase high school and college completion.

The award was renamed to honor the legacy of Gerald L. Baliles, the 65th governor of Virginia, a native of rural Patrick County and a forward-thinking leader. Baliles worked to ensure that all Virginians had access to education and training.

MECC’s award will support the placement of five part-time career navigators at Union High School, J.I. Burton High School, Eastside High School, Central High School, Gate City High School, Twin Springs High School, Rye Cove High School, Ridgeview High School, Lee High School and Thomas Walker High School.

Career Navigators work with high school students to prepare them for college entry, including career counseling, enrollment and financial aid assistance, and academic advising.

The Gerald L. Baliles Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative (RVHI) Award aimed to reduce the number of rural residents without a high school diploma from 1 in 5 to 1 in 10, and to increase the number of rural residents with an associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate from 26% to 52%.

To date, RVHI has provided more than $10 million in direct and matching funding toward achieving these goals. Significant outcomes indicate that the population of the RVHI region aged 25 and over without a high school degree has decreased by 4.2% and those with at least an asso-ciate’s degree has increased by 4.0%.

“This award will allow MECC to provide valuable career navigation services at the ten high schools across MECC’s service region, offering numerous support services to students in prepar-ing for college and post-secondary training,” said Dr. Kristen Westover, President of Mountain Empire Community College.

There were 13 awards made by the VFCCE through a competitive application process, including MECC, Southwest Virginia Community College, and Virginia Highlands Community College.

The mission of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education is to build student success and the Commonwealth’s future by supporting its 23 community colleges through:

• Workforce Development – Enabling students to build skills through scholarships and awards

• Coaching – Supporting adult learners, foster youth, and the youth of rural and urban re-gions

• Fellowships – Providing leadership development and community service opportunities

• Access & Affordability – Assisting with accessibility and basic student needs

• Accelerator Funds – Growing existing programs and developing new programs

• Flexible Funds – Fueling innovation, incubation, and advocacy

For more information, please visit

MECC To Host First-Ever Southwest Virginia Oral Health Summit

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College will host the first-ever Southwest Virginia Oral Health Summit, a virtual conference, on September 11 and 18. 

The Summit is designed for both community members and oral healthcare providers and will feature continuing education opportunities. Panelists will focus on dental health issues in rural Appalachia, including Virginias Medicaid expansion, links between oral and systemic health, public health trends, a regional opioid epidemic, and the current dental workforce and future recruitment needs.   

The conference will be a two-part series, held on Friday, September 11 from 9 a.m. to noon, and again on Friday, September 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is free, but registration is required. Registration for the event is available at 

Through a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University, eight hours of Continuing Education credits will be available for $25 per participant. Sponsors for the event include Dentaquest Partnership, Anthem Health-Keepers, Lenowisco Planning District Commission, University of Virginia’s College at Wise Healthy Appalachia Institute, Mountain Empire Community College, and the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation.  

For decades, the Appalachian area has faced many dental related stereotypes and challenges. The Lenowisco Planning District, along with UVA-Wise and Mountain Empire Community College, want to highlight success stories in our region. We also hope to create a networking opportunity among community members, fostering a platform for growth and expansion of dental care,” says Dr. Emily Bowen, Dental Assistant Program Director for MECC.  

The keynote speaker for the event is Dr. Omar Abubaker, DMD. Dr. Abubaker has been on the Faculty at VCU School of Dentistry and VCU Medical Center since 1991, and he currently serves as Chairman of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. After the tragic loss of his youngest son to an opioid overdose, Dr. Abubaker became involved with education and research in the field of addiction and pain management.  

Dr. Abubaker has appeared with numerous state and national organizations on these topics over the past two years, and quickly rose to the forefront of addiction specialists. Because of his personal connection to the opioid epidemic, he champions reform among prescribers in the dental field, changing the curriculum at medical and dental schools across the country. Dr. Abubaker holds a Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies from the International Program in Addiction Studies which is jointly housed in Virginia Commonwealth University, The University of Adelaide, Australia, and Kings College London, England.  

Mary Otto is a Washington Post journalist who began writing about oral health, focusing on social issues, including health care and poverty. She is also the author of Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America, an NPR Best Book of 2017. Otto continues to write about health and social issues as a freelance writer for the Post, as a contributing writer for an online publication for oral health professionals called, and as the editor of Street Sense, a newspaper produced and sold by homeless men and women in Washington, DC. 

Emilie Bonovitch, RDH, will speak on recent COVID developments and the impact those new restrictions on dental clinicians. Making a comparison between the historic AIDS crisis and the Bloodborne Pathogen Universal Protocols that were derived from that, the dental industry expects COVID restrictions to reformat the respiratory and infection control standards again. Bonovitch has served as a dental hygienist in the Greater Richmond, Virginia area for the last six years.  She has represented the state of Virginia as a delegate to ADHAs House of Delegates for the last four years. Most recently, she completed a term as President of the Virginia Dental Hygienists’ Association (VDHA) and is now serving an extended term as Immediate Past President. 

The planning committee has worked diligently to prepare an agenda packed with distinguished speakers covering a broad spectrum of topics relevant to our area. Although this event was originally scheduled as an on-campus forum, current circumstances lead us to a transition this to a virtual conference; however, we hope it may work to our advantage to ultimately reach a larger audience, added Bowen.  

For more information on the event, please contact Dr. Emily Bowen at 276-523-2400×760 or by email at 

MECC Selected for FAA Training Program

BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Mountain Empire Community College announces the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected its unmanned aircraft systems courses for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Program, or the UAS-CTI.

The FAA’s UAS-CTI program recognizes institutions that prepare students for careers in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones. To qualify for the initiative, schools must offer a bachelor’s or associates degree in UAS or a degree with a minor, concentration or certificate in UAS. Schools must provide a curriculum covering various aspects of UAS training including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety and federal policies concerning UAS.

With its UAS-CTI membership, MECC can assure its students that the UAS training it offers abides by FAA-mandated standards. “The FAA UAS-CTI program will ensure those trained in commercial UAS applications at MECC are receiving a program that meets FAA performance standards for faculty and instruction,” said MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover, “and that is part of MECC’s commitment to delivering cutting-edge programs that meet high industry standards.”

MECC began offering UAS classes in 2015, and currently offers a Small UAS Operations Technical Studies associate degree program and two Career Studies certificate programs in the field of Smart Farming, which is the study of how modern technology can address agricultural challenges. In addition, the college holds a 94 percent pass rate for all MECC students who take the FAA’s Small Pilot Certificate test—a credential legally required for those who wish to operate drones for commercial purposes.

MECC lead UAS instructor Fred Coeburn, who primarily developed the college’s UAS curriculum, believes that the diverse training offered by the program is one of its strongest attributes.

“Our unmanned systems training focuses on photogrammetry, mapping, infrastructure inspection, thermal plant health, and yield studies along with automated plant seeding and spraying.” Coeburn also noted that it is MECC’s priority to make sure its UAS students are trained “in all phases of mission planning, execution, data processing, equipment purchasing and systems repair.”

MECC currently offers six UAS classes, with class availability varying with each semester. For the Fall 2020 semester, there are currently three UAS classes scheduled to be offered in-person on MECC’s main campus. All in-person classes are currently being delivered in compliance with statewide mandated COVID-19 safety measures, and information regarding those measures can be found at

Those interested in learning more about the UAS program can visit or contact Mr. Coeburn at 276-523-2400, ext. 285.

MECC Announces Spring Semester Honor’s List, Merit List & President’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Honor’s List for the spring 2020 semester.  Students are eligible for the Honor’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.5 to 3.79 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.


APPALACHIA:  Ethan Church, Nathaniel Herron, Katherine Kelly, and Christian Worley.

BIG STONE GAP:  Erin Austin, Tyler Bowen, Lakeisha Calhoun, Madison Childress, Caitlyn Clymer, Emily Cooper, Christina Gibson, Jacob Goodman, Sydney Hall, Billy McMillan, Zachary Mullins, Samantha Owens, Jacinta Peak, Larissa Phillips, Joshua Price, Elizabeth Rock, Franklyn Santos, Crystal Sexton, Rylie Spears, Michael Storie, and Jared Sullivan.

BIRCHLEAF:  Raegan Rasnick and Kayla Taylor.

BRISTOL:  Alyssia Moss and Isabella Pippin.

CHURCH HILL, TN:  Haylee Tignor.                      

CLINTWOOD:  Shauna Counts, James Crabtree, Dustin Fannon, Max Fletcher, Tiffany French, Brian Jackson, Harley Mullins, Kaylee Mullins, and Kody Whitt..          

COEBURN:  Connor Blevins, Sarah Burke, Caleb Carico, Linda Cochran, Stephanie Fraley, Savannah Hill, Jaylen Mullins, Tiffany Robinson, Thomas Salyer, and Kevin Smith.

DRYDEN:  Mackenzie Dinsmore, Hannah Phillips, Hannah Reasor, and Ethan Wynn. 

DUFFIELD:  Morgan Baker, Caitlyn Cox, Caitlin Goins, MacKenzie Hall, Grace Isbel, Katie Salling, Kayla Senior, and Jacob Stanley.

DUNGANNON:  Natalie Adams, Danielle Brickey, and Lauryn McCoy.

EAST STONE GAP:  Raven Cantrell and Nathaniel Cheek.

FT. BLACKMORE: Lindsey Gibson.

GATE CITY:  Faith Church, Kadmiel Gardner, Kinslee Hammonds, Kaley Jenkins, Ryan Lark, Caroline Musick, Rebekah Owens, Andrew Pendleton, Rachel Reid, and Alexa Summers.

HAYSI:  Jacob Deel, Nolan Lamkin, Lindsey McReynolds, and Shellby Rose. 

HILTONS:  Reagan Bartley and Jacob Strong.

JONESVILLE:  Caleb Coleman, Bronwen Fischer, Jordan Hampton, Jonah Hilton, Noah Middleton, Callie Perkins, Madison Phipps, Andrew Sanders, Brooklyn Warner, and John Wright. 

KEOKEE:  Linsey Pennington and Emily Whisman.

KINGSPORT, TN:  Baylie Jones, D’Andre Mack, and Elisabeth Roberts.

NICKELSVILLE:  Deborah Ben-Saleck, Macarthur Inbody, Frank Miano, Aaron Shelton, and Summer Smith.

NORTON:  William Bolling, Allison Brady, Haley Brummitt, Brittany Cress, Akyssa Hollinger, William Maggard, Sydney Phillips, Emily Trent, and Sydney Wells.

PENNINGTON GAP:  Cameron Byington, Jeremy Cosby, Walker Feck, Zachary Shelburne, Matthew Spears, and Alexander Stafford.       

POUND:  Samantha Austin, Tristan Craiger, Alivia Elkins, Lanie Riley, and Lauren Roop.

ROSE HILL:  Colee Cottrell, Brian Humphrey, and Dawson Lee.             

ST.PAUL: Lacey Murphy.

STONEGA:  Kimberly Jones.

VANSANT:  Abygail Eason.

VIRGINIA BEACH:  Patrick Fisher.

WEBER CITY:  Tapanga Gillenwater and Seth Lucas.

WISE:  Sarah Aguinaga, Buffy Bell, Kinsley Davis, Ericka Fisher, John Hines, Tyler Hopkins, Brittany McConnell, Courtney Miniard, Haylea Mullins, Peyton Rogers, and Jason Stine.



The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Merit List for the spring 2020 semester.  Students are eligible for the Merit List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.2 to 3.49 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades, and part-time students who have between 6-11 credits and a GPA of 3.2 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.


APPALACHIA:  Kenneth Brooks, Katlyn Collins, Gabriel Dillon-Harlow, John Fields, Kaileb Johnson, Nancy Marion, Mary Meade, Chloe Mooneyhan, Ethan Roberts, Emily Rogers, Chantarae Shepard, Ashley Thomas, and Thomas Turner. 

BEN HUR:  Lynn Miles.

BIG STONE GAP:  Jesse Austin, Kathy Austin, Alexis Barker, Bethani Barker, Melinda Bradburn, Elizabeth Brooks, Farrah Bunch, Katelyn Christian, Emily Collins, Jacob Coomer, William Couch, Austin Crabtree, Ashley Cusano, Ricky Daniels, Alivia Davidson, Abbi Dickenson, Emma Dietz, Mary Douglas, Alyssa Dupree, Aaron Earwood, Jerry Elkins, Anngel Gallihar, Aubrey Gentry, Bethany Giles, Matthew Gilliam, Saylor Gilly, Andrea Gross, Graham Hall, Ethan Harris, Benjamin Hersel, Hannah Houston, Kellie Kamplain, David Kelley, Brandon Kelly, Jennifer Kennedy, Jason Kilgore, Owen Lawson, Brooke Light, Heather Lipps, Brieann Lomax, Keerston Lovell, Tiffine McMillan, Andrew Meador, Krista Meredith, Alli Miller, Seth Morgan, Koby Poff, Camrynn Russell, Stephanie Santos, Tiffany Seals, Samuel Shackleford, Rebecca Stapleton, Lynzee Sturgill, Nickolas Terehoff, Trevor Wagner, Galen Welch, Crystal Zeppa, and Jacob Zeruth.            

BIRCHLEAF:  Kayla Combs.

BLACKWATER:  Katherine Anderson and Teresa Maness.


BOGART, GA:  Quitman Brown.

CALHOUN, GA:  Erik Henson and Jeremy Long.

CASTLEWOOD:  Jannike Johnson, Taylor Perry, Olivia Powers, Nikki Scarberry, and Emily Slemp.

CHESTER:  Tanzania Earl.

CHURCH HILL, TN:  Ethan Billips, Brandon Dillman, Haylee Hill, and Brooklyn Smith.

CLINCHCO:  Cheyenne Blansett, Elizabeth Brichant, Tiffany Davis, Nicole Deel, and Daniel Patterson.                               

CLINTWOOD:  Bridget Adkins, Cecil Baker, Savannah Baker, Brenda Blankenship, Dawson Boyd, Caitlin Bradford, Kalianna Brooks, Katy Brooks, Emily Browning, Justin Browning, Jayda Colley, Amber Crihfield, Jaelyn Dingus, Dixie Duty, Christy Edwards, Philip Edwards, Grayson Kendrick, Ruth Kennedy, Michael Kincaid, April Mullins, Cheyenne Mullins, Kandice Mullins, Noah Mullins, Ashton O’Quinn, Ellen Oquinn, Nicholas Phillips, Lorin Phipps, Michael Porter, Travis Powers, Amanda Ramey, Travis Roberts, Tabitha Rose, Joseph Salyers, Kathleen Steffey, Phillip Strouth, Gregory Swiney, David Vance, Addison Vanover, and Tonya Wallace.                

COEBURN:  Zachary Adams, Eden Allan, Robert Backherms, Stephanie Barker, Chandler Brickey, Megan Call, Brynna Campbell, Tanner Charles, Ashley Crabtree, Abbie Crutchfield, Rachel Green, Jillian Hall, Elizabeth Huffman, Hannah Hughes, Fallon Jacobs, Daniel Johnson, Ariel Lawson, Summer Lee, Monica Light, Carrie Lund, Kaitlyn Maine, Marissa Meade, Kirklyn Milgrim, Nathan Minor, Taylor Moore, Christy Osborne, Coy Roop, Leah Rose, Sarah Schrader, Alyssia Sensabaugh, Marisa Shupe, Seirra Smith, Tabitha Smith, Caitlin Stanley, Skylar Sturgill, Gabrielle Swann, Savannah Varney, and Justin Wade.

DANTE:  Alyssa Hill and Grayson Martin.

DRYDEN:  Kevin Cooper, Abigail Edwards, Toni Fitzgerald, Savannah Jessee, Amber Johnson, Jonnie Mullins, Courtnee Rome, Kayla Thatcher, Austin Thomas, and April Wampler.

DUFFIELD:  Joanna Begley, Seth Berry, Jamie Bowen, Madison Butler, Ryan Cheek, Patricia Christian, Sierra Edens, Caleigh Fletcher, Veronica Gendron, Miranda Gilbert, Madison Gunter, Saniah Hamilton, Rachel Hubbard, Ammon Huish, Emilee Jerrell, Hannah Jones, Alisha Kern, Cieara Osborne, Emily Rhoton, Brooke Robinson, Jayda Smith, and Logan Tomlinson.

DUNGANNON:  John Carter.     

EAST STONE GAP: Tiffany Colvard, Emma Fox, Staci Fraley, Aki Godsey, and William Stidham.

EXOLIA, KY: Emily Brock.

EWING: Michael Locascio.

FT. BLACKMORE: Camryn Begley, Summer Dean, Michael Griffin, and Haley Wood.

GALAX:  Kevin Hooven.

GATE CITY:  Katlin Akers, Preston Babb, William Bellamy, Callie Blessing, Marissa Canter, Ashley Catron, Megan Cooper, Madison Dean, Brittany Estepp, Hannah Fields, Anna-Grace Fraley, Emily Fuller, Lauren Griffin, Zackary Hammonds, Destiny Hatfield, Jacob Helms, Kalea Holland, Devan Hoover, Riley Houseright, Samantha Jerrell, Kressa Johnson, Chloe Lane, Rachel Lane, Ashley Lawson, Keaton McDonald, William Painter, Aubrie Penley, Nalani Peters, Josette Picano, Kiersten Quillen, Patricia Repass, Alexis Sampson, Channa Sanders, Emma Smith, Makenzie Stallard, Samantha Stallard, Jentry Taylor, Chase Templeton, Hayden Thomas, Angela Vanzant, Sydney Vaughn, Abby Williams, Jacob Williams, and Jala Williamson.

HAYSI:  Tessa Colley, Rachel Hillman, Raegan Lamkin, Heaven O’Quinn, Brandy Presley, Breanna Presley, Alexis Souleyrette, Larisa Stanley, and Madison Yates. 

HILTONS:  Carter Babb, Isabel Sallee, Ava Seagle, Caleb Starnes, Shyanna Strong, Hannah Taylor, and Isaiah Wallen.

JONESVILLE:  Olivia Baker, Ryan Bales, Eden Benfield, Jasmine Brewer, Alyssa Clark, Cameron Cope, Mackenzie Davis, Chloe Dean, Heriberto Donato, Luke Estes, Nathan Hay, Miranda Howard, Evan Jones, Cody Lane, Samantha Lawson, Hannah Long, Kalli Marcum, Kelli Martin, Jessalyn Mullins, Lydia Russell, Michael Rutledge, Kaitlyn Skidmore, Daniel Smith, Caleb Snodgrass, Micah Stewart, Alicia Stiltner, Charles Ward, Kayla Weston, Allison Wilson, and Brady Yeary. 

KEOKEE:  Sheena Bloomer. 

KINGSPORT, TN:  Tara Adams, Breanna Bernard, Hannah Douthat, Ethan Gibson, Carrianne Hanmer Harris, Kari Head, Alexis Horton, Amelia Jennings, Ann Lane, Kayla Middleton, Madeline Smith, Lauren Thompson, and Allie Mullins.

MANASSAS: Krystal Grimes.

MARION: Marra Havener.

MOUNT CARMEL, TN:  Jessica Reed and Toni Stamper.

NEW TAZEWELL, TN: Samantha Cupp.

NICKELSVILLE:  Lakin Castle, Bradley Dean, Richard Hughes, Mahalia Kinsler, Zachary Lane, Gerald McConnell, Kelli Parks, Aubrey Powers, Cory Powers, Emaleigh Powers, Victoria Quillen, Justin Reed, Kaitlyn Wallace, and Austin White.

NORA: Brittany Johnson, Brittany McCoy, and Kelly McCoy.

NORTH CHESTERFIELD: Linwood Dabbs and Douglas Towne. 

NORTON:  James Campbell, Kelsey Culbertson, Morgan Fawbush, Kristina Garrison, Cassie Gouge, Blake Hammonds, Emily Hobbs, Taylor Holbrook, Cameron Jenkins, Amy Jones, Dalton Keel, Alexander Kennedy, Savahanna Kern, Cadence Lagow, Linda Mays, Maranda McGraw, Lucas Messer, Gracelyn Moore, Autumn Mullins, Callie Mullins, Sarah Mullins, Jackson Orr, Elizabeth Owens, Olivia Owens, Regan Phipps, Shealin Pruitt, Summer Rhodes, Shelli Roberts, Caelen Robinette, Stacy Robinson, April Rose, Rebecca Salamon, Jeremy Shepherd, Donna Sluss, Adran Smith, Trinity Smith, McKenzie Tate, Mary Tootill, Hannah Wells, Macy Wells, and Nathan Wells.

PENNINGTON GAP: Jacob Bledsoe, Jim Clark, Larissa Crider, Kenley Eisenmenger, Devin Garrett, Shyra Hensley, Rebecca Howard, Mary Litton, Jackie Nickodam, Misty Robbins, Samantha Smith, Michael Snodgrass, Dawnna Stebbins, Alishia Taylor, Madaline Wade, Alyssa Werner, Jacob Whitaker. and Aaron Williams.             

POUND:  Jerrid Adams, Andrea Anunson, Andrew Baker, Allyson Boggs, Bryson Boggs, Alexander Bolling, Ethan Bolling, Destiny Fleming, Melissa Freeman, Lynette Kendall, Alexa Lester, Isabella Maggard, Carly Maine, Penny Mullins, Jacqueline Polly, Alexus Powers, Amber Quillen, Brittany Roberts, Christian Rose, Lindsey Strange, Adrianna Sturgill, Alyssa Sturgill, Qing Yang, and Jody Young.

RALEIGH, NC:  Kayla Halsey.

ROSE HILL: Rebekah Glass, Emily Hollandsworth, Jaycee Medley, Jimmy Pittman, and Morgan Rouse.

RUTHER GLEN: Victor Fischer.              

ST.PAUL: Brianna Houchins and Andrew Sutherland.


SWORDS CREEK:  Sarah Price.

WEBER CITY:  William Deskins, David Edwards, Zachary Farmer, Jordan Mullins, Lydia Repko, Amanda Ward, and Kendra Ward. 

WHITESBURG, KY:  Savannah Day.

WISE:  Nicole Aguirre, Rebeckah Alcantara-Roberts, Brianna Aldridge, Olivia Basham, Marissa Bell, Madison Beller, Jacob Cantrell, Emma Chandler, Joshua Church, Adam Clark, Nicole Collier, Chloe Collins, Lauren Collins, Madalyn Collins, Aaron Crabtree, Christopher Crabtree, Reagan Dotson, Rylee Duncan, Rylee Elkins, Pria Funk, William Gentry, Hailea Gilliam, Leighann Hall, Arietta Harvey, Joseph Hayes, Hannah Hess, Amber Hill, Caleb Hill, Holden Hunnicutt, Tanya Isbell, Ron Johnson, Hannah Kegley, James Kinser, Luke Kirk, Kaitlin Kiser, Haley Large, Hannah Large, Sydney Linkous, Cassandra Masters, Stephanie McCoy, Lauren Milam, Emily Mullins, Peter Nauss, Camden Orr, Richard Pientka, Bethany Powers, Megan Reeves, Jordan Richardson, Kayla Roberts, Kaylee Robinette, Casey Sexton, Justin Sexton, Madison Shoffner, Macayla Singleton, Makayla Smith, Evan Stanley, Tyler Stapleton, Mackenzie Stidham, Kenneth Sturgill, Timothy Sturgill, Alexander Thompson, Elizabeth Thompson, Madison Trosper, Ashleigh Wampler, Loretta Wampler, and Megan Wright.



The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College President’s List for the spring 2020 semester.  Students are eligible for the President’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.8 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.


APPALACHIA: Ethan Bowman, Shaphan Fisher, Madison Head, Keaton Johnson, Morgan McGuire, Nathaniel Mullins, Samantha Sizemore, Amber Stidham, Bobby Whiteaker, snd Brittany Worley-Johnson.

BEN HUR: Madison Johnson.

BIG STONE GAP: Jasmine Absher, Miranda Blair, Sharessa Blair, Rebekah Earwood, Jacob Falin, Zoe Falin, Emilie France, Britney Freeman, Krystina Gangl, Britan Gilly, Jacob Gordon, Christopher Hall, Lauren Harkleroad, Joshua Herron, Nathaniel Hersel, Titus Houston, Autumn Johnson, Danielle Lamb, Christy Lee, Megan Lovell, Michael Martin, Sophia Morgan, Brayden Mozingo, Madalyn Ratcliffe, James Richardson, Madison Shuler, Emily Stanley, and Megan Wagner.

BIRCHLEAF: Camdyn Sykes.    

BLACKWATER: Joshua Winegar.          

BLUE RIDGE: Cameo Smith.

BRISTOL: Ethan Hensley.

CASTLEWOOD: Allison Compton, Selena Powers, and Madison Ramsey.

CHURCH HILL, TN:  Michaela Franklin, Ashtyn Gibson, and Katelynn Parton.

CLINCHCO: CheyAnn McCowan and Makenzie Robinette.

CLINCHPORT: Jessica Baker.

CLINTWOOD: Jennifer Barry, Gabriel Brown, Gabriel Counts, Nicholas Cox, Bethany Davis, Charles Dotson, Hannah Flint, Dawson Hillyer, Amber Hopson, Haleigh Jackson, Jordan Moore, Selena Moore, Hailey Pease, Ryan Reynolds, Joey Shepherd, Evan Smith, and Amelia Strouth.

COEBURN: Olivia Adkins, Cloey Bailey, Danielle Beaver, Gabrielle Beverly, Joshua Blankenbecler, Carrie Boyd, Tyler Bright, Hannah Davis, Amber Freeman, Shaylan Gross, James Kilgore, Jonathan Lawson, Elizabeth Mann, Elizabeth McReynolds, Whitney Mooney, Justin Palmer, Katherine Perry, Nicholas Raymond, Zachary Rose, Kaylee Sexton, Evan Stanley, and Michelle Venable.     

DANTE: Anthony Kiser, Lauren Rasnick, and Ayden Vitatoe.

DRYDEN: Brad Bledsoe, Colt Muncy, Tori Travis, and Alexander Wilder.          

DUFFIELD: Aaron Best, Savannah Bowen, Christen Edmonds, Janis Garrett, Nevin Haines, Holly Jones, Alyson Morgan, Brian Pearcy, and Dominic Webb.

DUNGANNON: Dustin Dockery.

EAST STONE GAP: Hannah Carter.

EOLIA, KY: Logan Sturgill.

EWING: Peyton Redinger and Seth Zumbrum.

FT. BLACKMORE: Kert Gibson, Brittany Lawson and Kara Smith.

GATE CITY: Kasey Barber, Elizabeth Barnett, Kallie Berry, Michael Calhoun, Shania Calhoun, Dylon Clark, Christopher Cunningham, Jason Fields, Ambria Hagy, Ashlyn Horne, Valerie McConnell, Magdalen Millichamp, Madison Parks, Teresa Phillips, Madison Pierce, Jack Pierson, Kendal Quillen, Charles Quinn, Lex Reed, Elizabeth Salyers, Shauna Shepard, Chloe Smith, Jonathan Strong, Loren Vermillion, and Sophie Vermillion.      

GRETNA: Natalie Durham.

HAYSI: Quinlan Turner. 

HILTONS: Phyllis McGlothlin.

JONESVILLE: Jerry Allen, Chelsie Alsup, Roger Clark, Aleigha Cope, Tanner Cope, Asia Dean, Gracie Dotson, Wesley Gilliam, Dustin Goss, Kelly Harvel, Caleb Haynes, Kalee Hibbard, Scottie Lawson, Timothy Long, Abigail Middleton, Caleb Moore, Joshua Smith, Sarah Sumpter, Tanya Woodard, and Mackenzie Wright. 

KINGSPORT, TN: Emily Adkins and Jacob Hartgrove. 

MENDOTA: Matthew Gobble. 

MOUNT CARMEL, TN: Ross Stokes.

NICKELSVILLE: Morgan Campbell, Amber Collins, Jared Helbert, and Cynthia Herron.

NORA: Amanda O’Quinn.

NORTON: Madison Bohnert, Jaymen Buchanan, Mark Caruso, Roland Cochrane, Laken Culbertson, Kaden Fisher, Michael Gilliam, Gabriella Hall, Kally Hughes, Kelsey Lawson, Harper McCall, Kaylei Miller, Maggie Moore, Kelly Pilkenton, Jaden Pritchard, Jacqueline Rose, John Still, Alison Stuedemann, Tammy Ward, and Aidan Wells.

PENNINGTON GAP: Alanah Aldridge, Andrew Barrier, Keisha Boldon, Olivia Evans, Mary Hall, Derick Hamilton, Noah Harber, Ashley Longsworth, Jared Massingill, Curtis Reece, Katherine Reuille, Dalton Rivers, Lisa Scott, Gregory Seals, and Morgan Woliver.    

POUND: Caleb Adams, Carrie Adams, Tabitha Adams, Kali Bowman, David Brummitte, Hannah Carter, Barbara Coleman, Hunter Grant, Wallace Mullins, Samuel Powers, Sarah Slemp, Charity Smith, Maddison Smith, Amber Sowards, Benjamin Stallard, Yijia Wang, and Hannah White.   

ST. PAUL: Catherine Levy, Grace McCowan, Marissa Moore, Carissa Mullins, Kaitlyn Salyer, and Jacob Sawyers.

STONEGA: April Bailey.

WEBER CITY: Kaylyn Collier and Emily Lane. 

WISE: Celeste Aguinaga, Lance Collie, Sandra Collins, Taylor Gentry, Caitlin Glover, Sagan Holbrook, Sarah Lane, Ethan Maggard, Tisha Miniard, Makayla Powers, Izah Qureshi, Taylor Sanders, Chloe Shupe, Elle Smith, Madison Stacy, Chassay Stafford, Emma Stallard, Cassidy Sturgill, Noah Sturgill, Jerrard Vance, and Chasity Wireman.

MECC to Provide Internet, Access to Laptops for Former Foster Youth


MECC’s Great Expectations program was awarded a $29,500 grant to provide personal computers and internet access for former foster youth enrolled in classes the 2020-2021 academic year.

Great Expectations is an initiative of the Virginia Community College System dedicated to reducing barriers to postsecondary education for former foster youth and helping them transition successfully into living independently. With the emergence of COVID-19 and the move to primarily online instruction last spring, many Great Expectations students have experienced an increased need for reliable internet access and an up-to-date personal computer or laptop.  

This grant, which was made possible through the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, is intended to alleviate financial strain on Great Expectations students and enable them to remain enrolled. Funds will be provided to purchase 20 new laptops that Great Expectations students can borrow to complete their coursework virtually. The grant will also allow Great Expectations to provide free internet access for students two months each semester.

Great Expectations will pay for one month of internet service for each enrolled Great Expectations student at the beginning of the semester, and one month of internet service after the withdraw date. Students can submit their internet bills to the GE Coach at the start of the semester.

“In these challenging times, any additional support we can offer Great Expectations students could be a tipping point towards a successful semester for them. This funding will provide invaluable access to resources that these students need. We are so grateful for the generous support from the VFCCE,” said Kari Paschetto, MECC’s Great Expectations Coach.

For more information about Great Expectations at MECC, contact Kari Paschetto, Great Expectations and Student Activities Coordinator, at or 276-523-2400 ext. 422.

MECC, UVA-Wise Sign Transfer Agreement for Software Engineering Courses

WISE, Va. – Mountain Empire Community College and The University of Virginia’s College at Wise have signed a transfer agreement between the two colleges for software engineering.

The agreement, effective Aug. 5, 2020, renews and updates an existing commitment between the two institutions to ensure that multiple software engineering-related courses at MECC transfer seamlessly to UVA Wise’ Software Engineering degree program.

MECC students who complete an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree in General Studies with a specialization in Software Engineering have a pathway for those students to transfer to UVA Wise and earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Software Engineering. Terms agreed to by the two colleges include UVA Wise accepting qualifying MECC students, granting students junior status with regards to academic and financial aid consideration, and considering all general education requirements as being met with exception of foreign language requirements.

In addition to accommodating MECC students who complete the General Studies associate degree, UVA Wise will also allow certain MECC software-related courses that exist independently of the community college’s General Studies program to transfer towards UVA Wise credit hours.

“UVA Wise and MECC have always had a strong relationship, especially when it comes to helping our students succeed,” said UVA Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “The articulation agreement is yet another example of a vibrant partnership that has grown over the years between our institutions. Working together on the software engineering agreement will not only steer our students in the right direction but will also allow a smooth transfer of courses from our institutions.”

“MECC is excited to again partner with UVA-Wise in order to create more seamless educational pathways,” said MECC President Dr. Kristen Westover. “This articulation agreement is a wonderful assurance to students that when they complete the appropriate associate of arts and sciences degree at MECC, they can begin as juniors at UVA Wise on their way to a bachelor’s degree in software engineering.

Mountain Empire Community College is a public, two-year college serving residents of Lee, Scott, Wise, and Dickenson counties, as well as the City of Norton. The College is one of twenty-three in the Virginia Community College System. Mountain Empire Community College’s mission is to provide our region with accessible, quality higher education, workforce training, and community programs to ensure an educated population and globally competitive workforce.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a public, four-year residential liberal arts college located in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. As a COPLAC member institution, UVA Wise is nationally accredited and has been nationally ranked among top public liberal art colleges in the U.S. UVA Wise offers 33 majors, 39 minors, five pre-professional study tracks and 24 teaching licensures.

Along with MECC’s General Studies degree program with its specialization in Software Engineering, the college also offers a variety of software development programs that result in either an Associate of Applied Science degree or a Career Studies certificate. Those interested in learning more about the General Studies degree program can contact Dr. Derek Whisman at Inquiries regarding MECC’s software development programs can be directed to Terri Lane at 



MECC Awarded $1.7M TRIO Grant to Support Tutoring, Completion

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce the college has received a $1.7M U.S. Department of Education TRIO grant to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in completing a college degree. 

TRIO programs provide academic tutoring, personal counseling, mentoring, financial guidance, and other supports necessary for educational access and retention. The TRIO program has been in existence on MECC’s campus since 1983. More than 800,000 low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities, from sixth grade through college graduation, are served by over 3,100 programs nationally. 

“We are excited and fortunate that MECC will be able to build on the success of 37 years of impactful programming through TRIO grants,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “The grant process is competitive, and with both a strong application and history, we were successful in ensuring the program’s continuance.”

MECC applied for and was awarded the competitive grant, one of 1,311 Colleges nationwide. The College TRIO program currently serves 175 students annually. The grant is funded for a five-year period. 

“This is an incredible opportunity to continue the success of this long standing program,” said TRIO Director Jessica Ketron. “The impact of supporting students for a 37-year span can now continue to subsequent generations and help increase college degree attainment in MECC’s service region.  This grant provides the opportunity to support students from the beginning of their college journey all the way thru to graduation.”

Mountain Empire Community College is a comprehensive two-year public college serving residents of Dickenson, Lee, Scott, Wise and the city of Norton. The college offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, with 96% of students receiving federal, state, and/or scholarship financial assistance. 

For more information on TRIO programs, including registrations for TRIO services, please contact Ketron at 276.523.2400 ext. 342 or by email at 

MECC Announces Creation of Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship 

Garnett Gilliam

Garnett Gilliam

Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of the Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship honoring long-time local educator and community volunteer Garnett Gilliam.  

Garnett is widely recognized in the region as a teacher, historian and community volunteer. A life-long resident of Big Stone Gap, Gilliam’s endowed scholarship will benefit graduates of Union High School, and/or graduates of the former Powell Valley and Appalachia High Schools.  

The MECC Foundation encourages donations to the scholarship fund in Gilliam’s honor be made either online at or by mail to MECC Foundation, Attention: Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219. 

“MECC students will be able to reach their educational and career goals without additional financial burden thanks to the generosity of the Gilliam family in establishing this scholarship. The MECC Foundation is honored to assist in this fitting tribute to Mr. Gilliam, who has dedicated his life to public education, community service, and historical preservation,” said Dr. Amy Greear, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at MECC and Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.  

Born in 1935, the youngest of five brothers, Garnett came to his love of history early in his schooling. After graduating from Big Stone Gap High School in 1954, Garnett earned a 4-year football scholarship to Emory and Henry College where he continued his love of the sport as well as his love of history. In 1958, he graduated with a B.A. in History and a Minor in Physical Education. 

Curious about the world and with a desire to serve his country, Garnett enlisted with the U.S. Army and was stationed in San Diego, CA before shipping out to Korea. Following his tour of duty, he returned to his beloved mountains of Southwest Virginia and began his teaching and coaching career at the former J.J. Kelly High School in Wise, VA. During this time he met Carolyn, his future wife. Together they would rear three daughters. 

In 1963, Garnett came to Powell Valley High School (now Union High School) and stayed there 35 years, teaching, coaching, serving in administration, and creating the driver’s education program. He often combined his driver’s ed lessons with local history lessons, pointing out landmarks and sharing tales as students drove the back roads of the town and valley. Garnett never stopped learning and achieved his Master of Arts in Education from Union College in KY in 1974 which, he boasted, had Colonel Sanders provide the commencement address. 

As retirement approached, Garnett’s collection of memorabilia about the county’s towns and schools had outgrown his bookshelves at home. He then opened a dedicated space in the June Tolliver House to showcase annuals, pictures, and history of the area. In 2000, the Town of Big Stone Gap recognized Garnett’s contribution  to the preservation of the area’s history by designating a “Garnett Gilliam” day. That same year, the Gap Corporation awarded him Citizen of the Year.  

As the memorabilia outgrew “The School Room” at the Tolliver House, he and other members of the community came together in 2007 to create The Lonesome Pine School and Heritage Center in a renovated Sears and Roebuck home on Clinton Avenue.  The collections continued to grow and more space was needed. In 2020, Garnett’s fellow volunteers surprised him by naming the newest addition to the Center in his honor. The Garnett Gilliam Continuing Education Center will host guest lectures, book signings, and special exhibits. 

Today, The LPS&HC houses a historical collection of past and present school memorabilia as well as thousands of pictures. It’s a research center for genealogy and a local gathering spot to learn about everything from the area’s coal mining heritage to author John Fox Jr. to the local camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Garnett has touched the lives of thousands of Wise County residents through his work as an educator and continues to do so as a historian. He hopes this scholarship will benefit those of any age who value an education but may not have the means to achieve it. “Without the help of scholarships,” Garnett says, “I would not have gone to college.” 

For more information on the Garnett Gilliam Buccaneer Scholarship, or information on creating a scholarship for MECC students, please contact the MECC Foundation at 276-523-7480 or by email to Amy Greear, 

MECC’s Home Craft Days Goes Virtual for 2020

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College has announced the 49th Annual Home Craft Days Festival will be held as a virtual video-cast celebration with on campus events cancelled in 2020 due to concerns related to COVID-19. The video-cast will feature current and past music performances, craft demonstrations, and vendor highlights.

The College is adhering to state guidelines related to large group gatherings. Although this is a painful decision that impacts many vendors, Home Craft Days Festival Director Dr. Michael Gilley said the cancellation is in the best interest of public health.  

“Since the festival’s beginning in the fall of 1972, Home Craft Days has become an annual gathering place, as the festival’s originator, Roddy Moore called it a ‘homecoming’, an event to draw people back home to their traditional roots in the old ways of living in our area of southwestern Virginia,” said Dr. Gilley.  “To keep this homecoming available to our communities on the third weekend of October 2020 and to maintain the safety of our participants and guests, we will plan a virtual festival for this year and come back strong for a great homecoming on our 50th Anniversary in October 2021.”

Celebrating the rich music, culture, and artistry of Southwest Virginia, the Home Craft Days Festival, held annually on the third weekend in October, features two full days of concerts, craft vendors, and demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and more. Approximately 20,000 people attend the festival annually, which includes a standing-room only Friday night kickoff concert. 

The festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021, with special activities already being planned. An announcement will be made at a later date regarding the upcoming 2020 video-cast special event. For additional details regarding Home Craft Days, or for information on becoming a vendor or sponsor, visit

MECC Cancels 2020 Mountain Music School

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College is cancelling the 16th Annual Mountain Music School, following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for summer camps.

MECC Mountain Music School Coordinator Dr. Michael Gilley said the cancellation is “in the best interest of the health and safety of the students, faculty, and staff during this pandemic. We look forward to hosting Mountain Music School in July 2021.”

MECC’s Mountain Music School is a week-long event dedicated to the preservation and continuation of Appalachian music and culture. Students from age 10 and up learn to play an instrument of their choice, including beginning and advanced options in “old-time” fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, autoharp, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, shape note singing, and dog house bass. More than 100 students participate each year from all over the nation and world. The majority of youth students attend on scholarship. 

The program, started by the late Sue Ella Boatright-Wells and Musician Ron Short, was developed to preserve old-time music in Southwest Virginia. Since it’s inception in 2005, Mountain Music School has trained thousands of musicians in traditional old-time music, including instrumental instruction, dance, and vocals. 

Several Mountain Music School students have gone on to perform professionally and have played at venues including the White House, the Smithsonian Institute, the International Bluegrass Festival, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is the first time in the program’s history that a cancellation has been required. 

“The decision to cancel the 16th Annual  Mountain Music School required much thought and consideration of the safety of our students, faculty and staff, ” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “With those priorities in mind and the given constraints of the current pandemic, we simply cannot create the amazing interactive experience that has defined the program for fifteen years. We do look forward to being able to deliver Mountain Music School in 2021.”

In 2019, MMS was named the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Slemp Foundation to purchase new instruments for student instruction. The program has also received support from t​he Wise, Scott, Lee, and Dickenson County Board of Supervisors, the City of Norton Council, Auto World, Community Motors, the Mackie Family/Noteworthy Strings, the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, the Papa Joe Smiddy Festival, the Cove Ridge Center, the Virginia Endowment for the Arts, Pro-Art, and the Crooked Road. 

For more information on MECC’s Mountain Music School, please contact Dr. Michael Gilley, at 276.523.2400 ext. 304 

MECC Will Offer Majority of Classes Online for Fall 2020

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College will offer a variety of options for courses for the Fall 2020, with the majority of courses being offered online to protect the safety and welfare of students and staff. 

Programs such as Welding, Machining, Truck Driving, Construction, Engineering, and others that require face-to-face instruction will be configured for smaller class sizes to allow for social distancing. Additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be implemented in these classrooms.

For students enrolled in health programs, such as Practical and Registered Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, and others, the College will ensure that students have the necessary safety equipment (Personal Protective Equipment-PPE) to complete coursework and practicums. 

“Faculty and staff have shown tremendous innovation in designing a large variety of course and program offerings that will be safe, engaging, and accessible, “said Dr. Kristen Westover, MECC President.  

Decisions regarding class scheduling for fall 2020 will remain flexible and dependent upon local COVID-19 conditions, Executive Orders from the Governor, guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health, and other sources of guidance.  All courses will likely have some online content, others will be entirely online, and some will be a combination of in-person and online (hybrid offerings).    

MECC will continue to support online learners, including assessment of online learning readiness, career exploration, tutoring, advising, online testing, etc. in a virtual format. In some instances, for face-to-face courses, this may require a modified schedule to address safety concerns and comply with safety requirements.   

“MECC is committed to work with students to complete their courses,” Westover said. “We believe that our approach is the safest choice we can make for this fall while ensuring that students are able to learn and train for their future careers.” 

Westover explained that online courses will be offered in various formats. Some online courses, which are synchronous offerings, are structured to meet at specific times on tools like Zoom, just like a traditional in-person class, so students can engage with their instructor and classmates together. Others offer a chance to learn material at one’s own pace to complete assignments or take exams by specific deadlines in faculty-facilitated courses, or asynchronous offerings.  

VCCS Chancellor Glenn Dubois noted Virginia’s community colleges are experts in providing online classes. “We began these offerings nearly 25 years ago, growing to become Virginia’s largest public provider of distance learning courses. We served more than 150,000 people last year through the more than 10,000 virtual courses offered across our 23 community colleges. 

We are safe, we are the largest provider of higher education in Virginia, we are the largest online provider of higher education in Virginia, and we are the most affordable educational option in Virginia,” Dubois said.  

For more information regarding Fall 2020 course scheduling options, or to enroll in an MECC Fall 2020 course, please call 276.523.2400 or visit the MECC’s website at  



MECC Announces 2020 Graduates

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College recognizes the Class of 2020, including 581 graduates earning 277 Associate degrees, and 186 Certificates and 298 Career Studies Certificates. 

Graduates were recognized with a Virtual Graduation Recognition published on Friday, May 15 on the College’s website and social media accounts. 2020 graduates will be recognized at a later date.  

Students receiving honor awards for 2020 include:  


Lindsey Johnson 

Brandi Osborne 

Amelia Strouth 



Madison Childress 

Cameron Cope 

Zoe Falin 

Amelia Strouth 

Yijia Wang 


Sarah Aguinaga 

Joules Bagienski 

April Bailey 

Chandler Brickey 

Elizabeth Carroll 

Ashley Crabtree 

Melissa Freeman 

Tanya Isbell 

Kirklyn Milgrim 

Selena Moore 

Jennifer Napier 

Gregory Seals 

Shyanne Van Heel 

Austin Wells 

Aaron Williams 



Brayden Mozingo 

Amber Sowards 



Arietta Harvey 



Aaron Best 

Jim Clark 

Carrie Lund 

Brandi Osborne 

Amelia Strouth 



Gregory Seals 



Huish Ammon 
Jared Helbert 



Sheena Woodward 



Andrew Barrier 

Megan Lovell 

Madison Childress 

Jim Clark 

Cameron Cope 

Aleigha Cope 

Walter Feck 

Hannah Phillips 

Whitney Slemp 



Samantha Cupp 



Administrative Support Technology 

Ann Lane 


Administrative Support Technology – Medical Office Specialist 

Lisa Scott 


Computer Networking 

Jared Sullivan 


Computer Software Specialist 

Danielle Lamb 


Health Information Management 

Phyllis McGlothlin 



Carrie Lund 


Paralegal Studies 

Aaron Best 



Cameron Cope 



Kevin Cooper 



Aleigha Cope 

Erin Humphrey 

Frank Miano 

Emma Mullins 

Shellby Rose 

Samantha Sizemore 

Tanna Whitt 




Carrie Adams 

Jim Clark 

Tanzania Earl 

Barbara Estep 

Walter Feck 

Jessica Manning 

Kirklyn Milgrim 

Gregor Seals 

Dawnna Stebbins 

Evan Swick 

Yijia Wang 

Crystal Zeppa 



Savannah Bowen 

Kayla Combs 

Gabriel Counts 

Autumn Elliott 

Alli Miller 

Selena Moore 

Marissa Moore 

Christian Sayers 

Kaylee Sexton 

Joshua Stidham 

Aidan Wells 

Emily Whisman 

Morgan Woliver 



Power Lineman 

Jacob Adair 

Nathan Bailey 

Nicholas Elliot 

Joshua France 

Brenton Graham 

Anthony Jessee 

David Layne 

Alex Mullins 

Tyler Oakley 

Christian  Rogers 

Donnie Saul 

Austin Sexton 

Dylan Short 

Mason Bellamy 

Holton Carter 

Eli Craft 

Jacob Davis 

Jonathan Dye 

Jared Edens 

Tyler Gardner 

Tyler Haynes 

Johnathan Holbrook 

Tylan Jackson 

Brain Jenkins 

Calleb Meade 

Hank Middleton 

Thomas Peak 

Brandon Robinson 

Zachary Rose 

Kevin Yeary 

Bailey Baker 

Brandon Bentley 

Caleb Compton 

Brandon Crabtree 

Preston Fleming 

Joseph Maine 

Corey McNeil 

Isaiah Mullins 

Shane Neece 

Isaiah Reynolds 

Mason Sluss 

Dawson Sutherland 


Commercial Driver’s License 

Joe Hobbs 

Michael Lewis 

Brett Maness 

Gregory Seals Jr. 

Rodney Tritt 

Thomas Vaughn 

Bobby Whiteaker 

Caleb Dillon 

Marc Huff 

Joshua K. Rasnick 

Joshua A. Rasnick 

Hank Rogers 


Emergency Medical Technician Graduates 

Carter Burke 

Cole Burke 

Wendel Burke 
Ethan Kegley 


Certified Nursing Assistant 

Emily Daugherty 

Timothy Mullins 

Vickie Mullins 

Adriana Newman 

Geraldeen Peters 

James Stevans 



MAY 15, 2020 
The students whose names appear below made formal application for a degree or certificate by the date specified in the Academic Calendar. 

Associate of Arts and Sciences  
Business Administration 

Jessica Brooke Eldridge* 

Angela D. Vanzant** 


Associate of Arts and Sciences  

General Studies 

Carrie Ann Adams** 

Tabitha Leigh Adams 

Eden Ruth Allan* 

Hannah Victoria Austin**+ 

Jessica Jane Balthis 

Rebecca J. Boles* 

Savannah Lynn Bowen* 

Dawson Michael Boyd 

Megan Danielle Burton 

Caleb Blake Carico*** 

Tanner Joeray Charles 

Amber Cheyanne Collins* 

Allison Faith Compton 

Cameron Blake Cope 

Gabriel Addison Counts*** 

Caitlyn Paige Cox* 

Ashley Lynne Cusano***+ 

Tiffany Stacie Davis 

Sherry K. Deaton 

Melanie Lynn Dotson* 

Tanzania Tanece Earl* 

Autumn Lane Elliott* 

Ericka B. Fisher** 

Kaden Tre Fisher 

Patrick Leslie Fisher** 

Amber Jae Nicole Freeman***+ 

Noah James Garrison 

Veronica Marie Gendron** 

Ashtyn Claire Gibson***+ 

Stephanie M. Gibson 

Saylor Reece Gilly***+ 

Kelly Tatum Harvel***+ 

Nathaniel Thomas Hersel***+ 

Mitchell Blake Holbrook** 

Christa Renee Holmes*** 

Emily Grace Hurd** 

Grace Anna Marie Isbel 

Tanya Jane Isbell*** 

Keaton Allen Johnson**+ 

Hannah M. Jones 

Jacob Lee Lane 

Ariel G. Lawson** 

Owen Thalus Lawson**+ 

Summer Marie Lee 

Margo D. Lewis 

Brieann Patrice Lomax** 

Valerie Rose McConnell** 

Elizabeth Grace McReynolds***+ 

Brittany Leigh Meade* 

Alli Marie Miller** 

Kayla Nicole Moore* 

Selena Paige Moore** 

Charles Jacob Allen Mullins 

Noah Blake Mullins* 

Abigayle Renae Eldridge Nighswander** 

Ashton Faith O’Quinn** 

Chelsea Brooke Perry 

Katherine Delaney Perry***+ 

Tiffany Marie Pigott** 

Koby Orion Poff***+ 

Charity Lynn Pridemore 

Michael Jesse Pritchett 

Hannah Elizabeth Reasor**+ 

Katherine Lynn Reuille 

Ethan Lee Rhoton 

Ryan A. Roberson** 

Desiree Ann Robinson 

Elizabeth Jobil Rock** 

April Michelle Rose* 

Hollie Elsa-Beth Rose 

Elizabeth Nicole Salyers 

Christian D. Sayers* 

Kaylee Faith Sexton* 

Kaleb Andrew Sharrett 

Chloe Brooke Smith***+ 

Madison Ruth Leigh Shuler***+ 

Caleb Winston Snodgrass 

Sydney Alyssa-Renae Stapleton***+ 

Lindsay Nicole Starnes*** 

Joshua L. Stidham* 

Heather R. Storie 

Amelia Morgan Strouth***+ 

MarShara Nicole Thompson 

Kendra Nicole Maness 

Mckenzie Anne Turner* 

Andrew P. Vanhook 

Angela D. Vanzant** 

Loren Oliviah Vermillion***+ 

Yijia Wang*** 

Makayla Shyanne Ward 

Brooklyn Paige Warner 

Aidan Riley Wells*** 

Emily Nicole Whisman* 

Summer Marquette Woodard 

Christian Ray Worley***+ 


Associate of Arts and Sciences 

Pre-Teacher Education 

Jennifer Myma Sue Barry* 

Kayla Marie Combs** 

Cameron Blake Cope 

Nolan Alexander Lamkin 

Marissa B. Moore* 

Selena Paige Moore** 

Amber Diana Morris 

Desirae Marie Porter 

Courtney A. Smith 

Santana Lynne Vincent 

Morgan Grace Jesse Woliver** 


Associate of Arts and Sciences 


Lakin Danyel Castle 

Keaton Allen Johnson**+ 


Associate of Arts and Sciences 

Science: Engineering Specialization 

Zachary Ryan Strouth 


Associate of Applied Science 

Administrative Support Technology 

Ann Lorraine Lane** 

Brandi Cierra Osborne* 


Associate of Applied Science 

Administrative Support Technology – Medical Office Specialist 

Sandra Denise Collins*** 

Brandi Cierra Osborne* 

Shelli R. Roberts** 

Lisa Nicole Scott*** 


Associate of Applied Science 

Computer-Aided Drafting/Design Technology 

John Glenn Hines III** 

Caleb I. Richardson 

Brian Gregory Pearcy** 


Associate of Applied Science 

Computer Networking Technology 

Noah Jerry Moneyhun 

Jason M. Stine** 

Jared Lee Sullivan** 


Associate of Applied Science 

Computer Software Specialist 

Danielle Krystal Lamb*** 

Kirklyn Patrick Milgrim*** 

Sean Andrew Owens* 


Associate of Applied Science 

Computerized Manufacturing Technology: Electromechanical Technology Specialization 

Matthew Cole Hamilton 

Samuel Allen Powers, Jr.** 

Andrew John Price** 

Samuel Franklin Scott II 

Timothy Jared Sturgill** 

Kody Lee Whitt 


Associate of Applied Science 

Correctional Services 

Jessica Faye Baker 

Joseph Michael Denhardt 

Titus Zachary Houston 

Lyndsey Brianna Johnson* 

Michael E. Storie** 

Austin Chase White 


Associate of Applied Science 

Emergency Medical Services Technology 

Joshua D. Church* 

Matthew Richard Corbett* 

Tristan Anthony Craiger 

Destiny Nichole Hatfield*** 

David Patrick Kelley*** 

Taylor Brooke Moore 


Associate of Applied Science 

Energy Technology 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley** 

Ronald W. Gilliam* 


Associate of Applied Science 

Energy Technology -Electrical Specialization 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley** 

William Tyler McCarty 

Samuel Allen Powers, Jr.** 

Associate of Applied Science 

Environmental Science 

Bruce Leonard Gardner** 


Associate of Applied Science 

Environmental Science- Water/Wastewater Specialization 

Joshua Michael Ferris** 

Richard Oliver Hatfield*** 

LeRoy A. Rice*** 

Douglas P. Towne*** 

Associate of Applied Science 

Forest Science 

Andrew Michael Barrier** 

Bruce Leonard Gardner** 

Travis W. Powers* 

Daniel Ray Townsend 


Associate of Applied Science 

Health Information Management 

Breanna Rose Bernard*** 

Brittany Paige Cress 

Phyllis Leigh McGlothlin** 

Lisa M Milanese*** 

Brandy D. Presley* 

Kayla Danielle Thatcher 

Tonya R. Wallace** 


Associate of Applied Science 


Jim Henry Clark** 

McKenzie Leigh Crabtree* 

Krystina Gangl*** 

Yesha Abdiel Gardner* 

Cynthia D. Herron** 

Carrie M. Lund*** 

Jennifer Marie Napier** 


Associate of Applied Science 


Rachel E. Alley* 

Samantha Jo Austin** 

Andrew J. Baker** 

Rick Barrett 

Caitlin Marie Bradford 

Haley Elizabeth Brickey 

Justin Craig Browning* 

Ashley Paige Christian 

Emily Nicole Cooper 

Ashley Kaitlyn Crabtree** 

Amber Nichole Crihfield* 

Kelsey Jo Culbertson 

Samantha Hope Cupp*** 

Melodee Lynn DeBoard 

Roseanna Jolene Dickenson 

Ericka B. Fisher** 

Patrick Leslie Fisher** 

Cassie Marie Gouge** 

Katelyn Louise Hall 

Leighann Michelle Hall** 

Pamela S. Hamilton* 

Rachel Marie Hubbard* 

Fallon Nicole Jacobs* 

Amy Cayla Marie Jones 

Samantha Kaitlynn Keene 

Savahanna Faith Kern 

Ashley Brooke Longsworth 

Lauren Ashley Mabe 

Hannah Kristen Martin** 

Kayla M. Middleton 

Nathan Lee Minor** 

Stephanie L. Morris* 

April Louise Mullins 

Maryellen Rose Pauley 

Shonna D. Peterson* 

Samantha Faye Phillips 

Blaise Renee Rasnick 

Jessica L. Reed** 

Patricia Nicole Repass 

Summer Breanna Rhodes* 

Brittany S. Roberts 

Heather Renee Rose 

Camrynn Kaylor Russell 

Channa Alexis Sanders** 

Chantarae M. Shepard** 

Jeremy Lee Shepherd 

Makayla Brooke Smith 

Samantha Fae Stallard 

Toni Brooke Stamper 

Caitlin Marie Stanley* 

Brittany Ann Stapleton 

Rebecca Ann Stapleton 

Robin Renee States 

Alicia Louise Stiltner* 

Christie L. Summey 

Emily M. Trent 

Neisha N. Tuggle* 

Savannah Brooke Varney** 

Lindsay Beth Ann Vernon 

Kasey Michelle Yates 


Associate of Applied Science 

Paralegal Studies 

Aaron Steele Best*** 

Jacqueline C. Hampton*** 

MaKayla Cheyenne Wilder 


Associate of Applied Science 

Police Science 

Jessica Faye Baker 

Chandler Richard Brickey** 

Jacob Stephen Cantrell 

Grayson Cuel Cothron*** 

Keith E. Crabtree** 

Jared James Ray Crigger* 

Joseph Michael Denhardt 

Bobby W. Edwards*** 

Lillian Mckenize Hall  

Nathaniel Patton Herron* 

Titus Zachary Houston 

Lyndsey Brianna Johnson* 

Noah Ridge Middleton*** 

Andrew Richard Storm Sanders 

Madison Lynn Shoffner* 

Macayla Brooke Singleton 

Jason M. Stine** 

Michael E. Storie** 

Austin Chase White 

Associate of Applied Science 

Respiratory Therapy 

Brandon Patrick Armistead* 

Savannah Brooke Brooks*** 

Kaitlin Elizabeth Catterton 

Darien Chase Cottrell 

Amanda Gabrille Fisher 

Brittany S. Frazier 

Taylor G. Fuller* 

Taylor Danielle Hensley* 

Nicholas Montana Ledford* 

Harley Paige Marcum 

Caitlin Brooke Summey** 

Shyanne Tyla Van Heel** 

Davina Brooke Vanover** 

Tabitha Renee Wallace* 


Associate of Applied Science 

Technical Studies- Welding 

Thomas J. Davis, Jr. 

Philip J. Miller*** 

Stephen Bradley Slayton 

Cody Heath Woods** 



Administrative of Justice – 

Law Enforcement Option 

Nathaniel Patton Herron* 



Air Conditioning & Refrigeration 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley** 



Clerical Assistant 

Aaron Steele Best*** 

Kevin Ray Cooper II 

Holly Leann Jones 

Ann Lorraine Lane** 

Brandi Cierra Osborne* 



General Education 

Carrie Ann Adams** 

Tabitha Leigh Adams 

Nicole Katheryn Aguirre**+ 

Alanah Grace Aldridge***+ 

Eden Ruth Allan* 

Hannah Victoria Austin**+ 

Jessica Jane Balthis 

Caleb Alexander Barnette*+ 

Jennifer Myma Sue Barry* 

Kallie Ann Berry***+ 

Cheyenne Dean Blansett** 

Connor McNeil Blevins**+ 

Madison Danielle Bohnert*+ 

Savannah Lynn Bowen* 

Carrie Briella Boyd**+ 

Dawson Michael Boyd 

Jasmine Nicole Brewer*+ 

Emily Joy Brock**+ 

Caleb Blake Carico*** 

Hannah Brook Carter***+ 

Lakin Danyel Castle 

Roland Jonah Cochrane, Jr.***+ 

Kaylyn Brooke Collier***+ 

Amber Cheyanne Collins* 

Allison Faith Compton 

Cameron Blake Cope 

Colee Shane Cottrell**+ 

Gabriel Addison Counts*** 

James Hunter Crabtree***+ 

Ashley Lynne Cusano***+ 

Bethany Nicole Davis***+ 

Summer Leeann Dean 

Emma Elizabeth Dietz*** 

Melanie Lynn Dotson* 

Alyssa Nichole Dupree***+ 

Rebekah Ann Earwood* 

Zoe Brooke Falin** 

Bronwen Eve Fischer+ 

Emilie Nora France*+ 

Amber Jae Nicole Freeman***+ 

Kristina Leeann Garrison 

Noah James Garrison 

Veronica Marie Gendron** 

Taylor Faith Gentry***+ 

Ashtyn Claire Gibson***+ 

Matthew Seth Gibson 

Stephanie M. Gibson 

Saylor Reece Gilly***+ 

Matthew Phillip Gobble* 

Michael Scott Griffin*** 

Ambria Paula Grace Hagy***+ 

Sydney Faith Hall***+ 

Lauren Brooke Harkleroad***+ 

Ethan Chase Harris***+ 

Lakeisha Lynn Hartsock 

Kelly Tatum Harvel***+ 

Madison Brianne Head**+ 

Nathaniel Thomas Hersel***+ 

Mitchell Blake Holbrook** 

Sagan Michelle Holbrook***+ 

Akyssa Nadae Hollinger*+ 

Alexis Mattison Horton***+ 

Keaton Allen Johnson**+ 

Luke Dean Kirk+ 

Anthony Wayne Kiser, Jr.** 

Nolan Alexander Lamkin 

Jacob Lee Lane 

Ariel G. Lawson** 

Dokken Allen Gage Lawson 

Owen Thalus Lawson**+ 

Summer Marie Lee 

Jessica Gail Manring* 

Jace Andrew Mathis 

Valerie Rose McConnell** 

CheyAnn LaShay McCowan*** 

Elizabeth Grace McReynolds***+ 

Brittany Leigh Meade* 

Krista Rashay Meredith***+ 

Lucas Cole Messer***+ 

Alli Marie Miller** 

Jordan Alexis Moore*** 

Marissa B. Moore* 

Sophia Grace Morgan*** 

Amber Diana Morris 

Brayden Garreth Mozingo*** 

Wallace Mullins III**+ 

Noah Blake Mullins* 

Ashton Faith O’Quinn** 

Landon Brett Page 

Callie Nicole Perkins***+ 

Katherine Delaney Perry***+ 

Larissa Jade Phillips***+ 

Sydney Michelle Phillips**+ 

Regan Olivia Phipps**+ 

Koby Orion Poff***+ 

Desirae Marie Porter 

Bethany Michelle Powers+ 

Charity Lynn Pridemore 

Jaden Timothy Pritchard***+ 

Michael Jesse Pritchett 

Charles Trent Quinn*** 

Raegan Rianna Rasnick***+ 

Hannah Elizabeth Reasor**+ 

Curtis Lee Reece***+ 

Ethan Lee Rhoton 

Elisabeth Ann Roberts***+ 

Hollie Elsa-Beth Rose 

Matthew Eric Rowe 

Elizabeth Nicole Salyers 

Kaylee Faith Sexton* 

Kaleb Andrew Sharrett 

Madison Ruth Leigh Shuler***+ 

Chloe Brooke Smith***+ 

Courtney A. Smith 

Kara Lynn Smith***+ 

Maddison Leann Smith*** 

Summer Lauren Smith**+ 

Caleb Winston Snodgrass 

Amber Savannah Sowards***+ 

Caleb Gideon Zacharaiah Spicer*** 

Sydney Alyssa-Renae Stapleton***+ 

Kathleen Elizabeth Marie Steffey** 

Amelia Morgan Strouth***+ 

Zachary Ryan Strouth 

Skylar Jennings Sturgill*+ 

Sarah Elizabeth Sumpter***+ 

MarShara Nicole Thompson 

Kendra Nicole Maness 

Mckenzie Anne Turner* 

Tyler Jacob Underwood 

Tobin Aric Van Note II 

Loren Oliviah Vermillion***+ 

Santana Lynne Vincent 

Trevor Cayman Wagner***+ 

Joshua Thomas Max Winegar***+ 

Morgan Grace Jesse Woliver** 

Christian Ray Worley***+ 



Industrial Maintenance 

Samuel Allen Powers, Jr.** 



Legal Office Assisting 

Aaron Steele Best*** 

MaKayla Cheyenne Wilder 



Medical Office Coding & Procedures 

Yvonne J. Hiter** 

Chelsea Grace Mann*** 

Lisa Nicole Scott*** 

Kayla Danielle Thatcher 



Practical Nursing 

April Dawn Bailey** 

Mikki Ann Blessing 

Randall Scott Bradley 

William Jarred Bush 

Alyssa Faith Clark 

Faye Marie Elkins 

Barbara Alyn Estep 

Stephanie Lynn-Brooke Falin 

Kenzie LeAnn Fleming 

Candlyn Michelle Forton* 

Taylor Mckinzey Fritz* 

Nicholas Ray Guerrant** 

Rachel Leigh Higgins 

Jessica Marie Kawiecki 

Makenzie Faith Kilgore 

Kalli BreeAnne Marcum 

Tiffine Lee McMillan** 

Tasha Lynn Meadows 

Thelma Elizabeth Moore 

Ashley M. Mullins 

Brittany Renee Mullins 

Kaleigh Annabelle Mullins 

Jennifer Annette Nash 

Chasity LeAnn Phillips 

Karrie L. Powers* 

Haley Brooke Ramey 

Maggie Ruth Robinson** 

Monica Michelle Rowan 

Diana Grace Sawyer 

Olivia Tracey Sexton 

Alexis Maclae Stanley 

Deneta Marie Taylor* 

Tanna Marie Whitt** 




Stephen Bradley Slayton 

Cody Heath Woods** 


Career Studies Certificate 

3-D Design 

Donald Ray Bailey 

Tyler Andrew Cole 

Audreyanna Rochelle Easterling 

Philip L Edwards 

Joseph Edward Freeman 

Dakota J. Morelock 


Career Studies Certificate 

Air Conditioning & Refrigeration 

Christian Shay Beckman 

Chandler Richard Brickey 

Robert Shane Brown 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley 

Jon A. Pope 

Lex Alexander Reed 

Jacob Matthew Stanley 

Austin Tyler Wells 


Career Studies Certificate 

Child Development – Infant & Toddler Option 

Kinsley Annamarie Davis 

Kymberly C. Heldreth 

Kimberly Brianna Robinette 


Career Studies Certificate 

Computer Software Specialist – Mobile Application Development 

Danielle Krystal Lamb 

Kirklyn Patrick Milgrim 


Career Studies Certificate 


Jason M. Stine 

Career Studies Certificate 

Dental Assistant 

Tiffany Holli Blankenship 

Allison June Brady 

Tessa Gale-Marie Colley 

Katlyn Leann Collins 

Britney Nicole Freeman 

Hailea Shannah Marion Gilliam 

Olivia Raine Hernandez 

Nancy Glynda Marion 

Alyson Morgan 


Career Studies Certificate 

Early Childhood Development 

Sarah Melody Aguinaga 

Kinsley Annamarie Davis 

Roselyn Marie Gilbert 

Kymberly C. Heldreth 


Career Studies Certificate 


Christian Shay Beckman 

Jeremy Daniel Cosby 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley 

Colton Glenn Eads 

Rebekah Faith Glass 

Nevin William Haines 

Graham V. Hall 

Caleb Daniel Haynes 

Brian Keith Humphrey 

Adrian Corey Mullins 

Samuel Allen Powers, Jr. 

Lex Alexander Reed 

Chase Dalton Strouth 

Austin Tyler Wells 


Career Studies Certificate 

Emergency Medical Technician – Basic 

Matthew Richard Corbett 

Autumn Brooke Fultz+ 

Lauren Brooke Griffin 

Carrianne Michelle Hanmer Harris 

Jessica Lucinda Hart 

Kaitlyn Marie Hartsock+ 

Ciara Nicole Haynes+ 

Zachary Brandon Helbert 

Kalea Cheri Holland+ 

William Spencer Howard 

Cameron Austin Jenkins 

Alexia Grace Livesay+ 

Halee Kursten McCoskey+ 

Ira Nathaniel Middleton 

Colton Trace Mullins 

Nalani Peters 

Crystal S. Phillips 

Ethan Isaac Routt+ 

Brady Logan Tritt 

Primmel Jackson Wallace 

Tabitha Renee Wallace 


Career Studies Certificate 

Energy Technology – Electrical Emphasis 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley 

Samuel Allen Powers, Jr. 

Lex Alexander Reed 


Career Studies Certificate 

Energy Technology- HVAC Emphasis 

Jeffrey Kyle Crumley 


Career Studies Certificate 

Geographic Information Systems 

Brian Gregory Pearcy 


Career Studies Certificate 

Health Sciences 

Dakota Cheyenne Adkins 

Samantha Jo Austin 

April Dawn Bailey 

Damon J. Ballard 

Bridget Dianne Bevins 

Angela D. Blankenship 

Callie Madison Blessing 

Madison Grace Boggs 

Caitlin Marie Bradford 

Madison Nicole Castle 

Katelyn Brooke Christian 

Toni Kay Couch 

Tiffany L. Cress 

Melissa Jo Culbertson 

Taylor Marie Darnell 

Courtney Danielle Daugherty 

Hannah Ashton Davis 

Asia Blake Dean 

Barbara Alyn Estep 

Jacob Andrew Falin 

Kenzie LeAnn Fleming 

Melissa S. Freeman 

Taylor G. Fuller 

Hailea Shannah Marion Gilliam 

Britan Abigail Gilly 

Alyssa Anne Gollaway 

Alexandrea Madison Hackney 

Kayla J. Harvey 

Hallie Paige Hembree 

Felisha S. Heranney 

Amanda D. Hopson 

Kristi Renee Hornsby 

Rachel Marie Hubbard 

Hannah Marie Hughes 

Katelyn LaShea Hurlock 

Savannah LeAnn Hylton 

Macarthur David Inbody 

Grace Anna Marie Isbel 

Autumn Marie Johnson 

Kressa Lynn Johnson 

Whitney Nichole Kelly 

Alexander Jagger Kennedy 

Jennifer A. Kennedy 

Briana Jade Kiser 

Keerston Alexus Lovell 

Tonya Renee Lundy 

Hannah Kristen Martin 

Cassandra Suzanne Masters 

Shacodi Rayne Mays 

Kierstien Sharae McCarty 

Stephanie Michelle McCoy 

Lindsay Nicole McNeil 

Marissa Leann Meade 

Tasha Lynn Meadows 

Kayla M. Middleton 

Joy MaKayla Moore 

Ashton Kristina Mullins 

Brittany Renee Mullins 

Jennifer Annette Nash 

Christy Ann Osborne 

Christopher Logan Perry 

Peyton Dale Peters 

Larissa Jade Phillips+ 

Hannah Kate Phipps 

Makayla Ashton Powers 

Carra Lee Rabon 

Evan Bryce Rasnick 

Madalyn Nicole Ratcliffe 

Jessica L. Reed 

Kimberly Denean Robinson 

Courtnee Deneice Rome 

Camrynn Kaylor Russell 

Taylor Elizabeth Salyer 

Channa Alexis Sanders 

Whitney Cheyanne Slemp 

Haley Nicole Smith 

Makayla Brooke Smith 

Tabitha Nicole Smith 

Robin Renee States 

Dawnna Joy Stebbins 

Lynzee Danielle Sturgill 

Caitlin Brooke Summey 

Alexander LonnieJo Thompson 

Angela D. Vanzant 

Savannah Brooke Varney 

Crystal A. Wagner 

Jennilyn Ava Walling 

Tiffany Grace Wampler 

Nathan A. Ward 

Mackenzie Grace Warner 

Emily Nicole Whisman 

Aaron Lowell Williams 

Kelsey Danielle Williams 

Christopher Brian Winston 

Jacob Blake Yates 

Crystal Renea Zeppa 


Career Studies Certificate 

Law Enforcement Management & Supervision 

Steven B. Boggs 

Bobby W. Edwards 

Kelly R. Fleming 

Rusty A. Hamm 

Kyle Douglas Hayes 

Michael D. Mason 

Michael J. Salyer 

Ryan Seth Vanover 

Bradley S. Williams 


Career Studies Certificate 

Machinery Maintenance 

Samuel Allen Powers, Jr. 

Andrew John Price 


Career Studies Certificate 

Medical Receptionist & Transcriptionist 

Sandra Denise Collins 

Lindsey Irene Gibson 

Virginia G. Phillips 


Career Studies Certificate 

Medical Records Technician 

Virginia G. Phillips 

Nikki Beth Scarberry 


Career Studies Certificate 

Nursing Assistant 

Joules Lacy Bagienski 

Victoria D. Chestnut 

Alissa Ilene Belle Cleek 

Tiffany L. Cress 

Amber Nichole Crihfield 

Samantha Hope Cupp 

Taylor Marie Darnell 

Alyisa L. Edgar 

Morgan Brooke Elliott 

Tapanga LeighAnn Gillenwater 

Katelyn Louise Hall 

Bryanna Sierria Harris 

Jessica Lucinda Hart 

Taylor Rae Holmes 

Sherrie Lynn Horchak 

Amber Natasha Johnson 

Kressa Lynn Johnson 

Danielle N. Lawson 

Kayla Breanna Leonard 

Haley Morgan Light 

Tonya Renee Lundy 

Haley Noel Martin 

Ira Nathaniel Middleton 

Alyson Morgan 

Jennifer Annette Nash 

Racheal Needham 

Meagan Denise Pettey 

Rachel Evie Reid 

Grace Alexandria Rhoton 

Elisabeth Ann Roberts+ 

Travis Wayne Roberts 

Kaleb Jackson Saez 

Stephanie A. Sampson 

Channa Alexis Sanders 

Seirra S. Smith 

Summer Lauren Smith+ 

Dawnna Joy Stebbins 

Crystal A. Wagner 

Brittany Nichole Worley-Johnson 

Crystal Renea Zeppa 


Career Studies Certificate 

Pharmacy Technician 

Cierra Alexsis Barker 

Kayla Marie Boggs 

Summer Danielle Bower 

Eden Cecilia Calton 

Raven Jade Cantrell 

Linda A. Cochran 

Rebecca E. Cochran 

Abygail Rachel Eason 

Alyisa L. Edgar 

Caitlin Lace Goins 

Michael A. Hall 

Haleigh Elizabeth Jackson 

Kellie B. Kamplain 

Robin Renee Lynthlin 

Brittany Raschae Phelps 

Karrie L. Powers 

Seirra S. Smith 

Olivia Darlene Taylor 

Sabrina Lynn Taylor  

Briana Paige Triplett 

Sydney Grace Wells 

Elizabeth R. Williams 

Jody Lynn Young 


Career Studies Certificate 


Carrie Ann Adams 

Darrian Hayley Addington 

Bailee McClain Anderson 

Katherine Nicole Anderson 

Kelly Lee Baker 

Summer Danielle Bower 

Megan Alyssa Call 

Elizabeth Anne Carroll 

Emily Rose Collins 

Morgan Brooke Elliott 

Maegan Gruber-Basenback 

Mary Melissa Hall 

Bryanna Sierria Harris 

Destini Collett Hicks 

Alisha Renna Kern 

Haley Morgan Light 

Robin Renee Lynthlin 

Leighandra Paige McGuire 

Chasity Hope McKinney 

Rebecca N. Pennington 

Vickie Lynn Smith 

Tori Elizabeth Stevens 

Bailee L. Trent 

Megan Paige Wagner 

Sheena M. Woodward 

Jody Lynn Young 


Career Studies Certificate 

Small Business Management 

Cynthia D. Herron 

Amanda Grace Hughes 

Holly Leann Jones 

Carrie Marie Lund 

David Shannon Vance II 


Career Studies Certificate 

Software Development I 

Danielle Krystal Lamb 

Marlin Frank McComas, Jr. 

Kirklyn Patrick Milgrim 


Career Studies Certificate 

Software Development II 

Danielle Krystal Lamb 

Kirklyn Patrick Milgrim 

Sean Andrew Owens 


Career Studies Certificate 

Water Plant Operator 

LeRoy A. Rice 


Career Studies Certificate 

Welding Operator 

Clay Allen Barker 

Billy Bryant 

Caleb Allen Coleman 

Jacob Charles Hall 

Christopher Philip Koontz 

Hunter Garrett Parsons 

Peyton Reed Redinger 

Gregory J. Seals 

Timothy Dawson Smith 

Darin Trevor Vaughan 

Cody Heath Woods 




To be eligible for graduation with honors, a student must have at least the following grade point average and complete an associate degree or certificate: 


*Honors (cum laude), 3.2 

**High Honors (magna cum laude), 3.5 

***Highest Honors (summa cum laude), 3.8 
+High school students 

Individuals have been designated in the program as honor students based on their grade point average at the completion of the semester prior to the one in which they will graduate. 


Individuals have been designated in the program as honor students based on their grade point average at the completion of the semester prior to the one in which they will graduate. 

Students wearing gold tassels are honor students. Students wearing gold stoles are members of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society. 


Students wearing red, white, & blue cords are U.S. Military Veterans. 



MECC’s Cybersecurity Team Ranked 60th in Nation

Macarthur InbodyBig Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College’s Capture the Flag Cybersecurity team finished its season ranking 60th overall out of all Colleges and Universities in the nation and 21st in the Eastern Division.  

The team, which is comprised of students Macarthur Inbody and Staci Fraley, competed against 350 schools. MECC’s team ranked above larger schools in the Eastern U.S. including John Hopkins University, New York University, Radford University, and Northern Virginia Community College. The competition includes challenges based on networking, ethical hacking, computer forensics, computer programming, software vulnerabilities, log file manipulation, social engineering, and more.

“We are extremely proud of the amazing performance of MECC’s Cybersecurity Team in the final season rankings, particularly as this is the Team’s inaugural season,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “Macarthur and Staci put in many hours of effort resulting in their extraordinary outcomes.”

In the team game, MECC’s CTF team “The Transcendentalists”, reached an overall ranking of 104th out of 738 teams competing. MECC competed in the gold bracket during the team game designated for the top 15% of players overall. MECC’s national ranking can be viewed at MECC’s Eastern ranking can be viewed at Fraley

In the individual game, MECC’s Macarthur Inbody placed 57th overall while competing in the gold bracket. MECC’s Staci Fraley placed 922nd overall and in 361st place while competing in the silver bracket. The gold bracket is designated for the top 15% of all players, and the silver bracket is designated for the next 35% of players(aka top 50% overall). An estimated 3,461 players competed in the individual game. Individual statistics can be viewed at

For more information on MECC’s Cybersecurity Program or the Capture the Flag Cybersecurity Team, please contact CTF Coach and Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity Ritchie Deel at 276.523.2400 ext. 444 or at

Mountain Empire Community College to Offer Free Drone Operator/GIS Classes

BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Mountain Empire Community College will offer free online courses in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and geographic information systems (GIS) during its Summer 2020 semester.

MECC, in partnership with Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development and its Community Development Block Grant program designed to bolster UAS training in Southwest Virginia, is offering full tuition assistance for its UMS 107 and GIS 210 courses during its summer semester. Students have the option to enroll in either class or both classes, and the classes will be delivered entirely online in keeping with mandated COVID-19 safety measures.  

The UMS 107 course, titled “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Remote Pilot Ground School,” trains students in a variety of drone-related topics including FAA regulations, optimizing performance and maintenance. The course also prepares students for the FAA’s Remote Pilot Certificate, which permits drone operators to use their skills for commercial purposes. Since MECC began its UAS program in 2015, 94 percent of students who took the FAA examination received a passing score on their first attempt. Those interested in enrolling in UMS 107 can visit or contact Instructor Fred Coeburn at  

GIS 210, titled “Understanding Geographic Data,” trains students on how to obtain and survey aerial data, and they will also become familiar with modern software tools like ESRI ArcMap (used to view and analyze geospatial data) and Google Earth. As MECC GIS Instructor Jake Gilly notes, the offering of these two courses in tandem at no cost is a benefit to MECC’s service region. “Our quickly changing world is making it more imperative that we know our surroundings and the information that defines them,” Gilly says. “Students who receive training simultaneously in drone operations and GIS will be able to keep pace with the latest technology out there.” Those interested in enrolling in GIS 210 can contact Gilly at       

Potential students wishing to enroll in either course can visit and are advised to do so by June 1. For eligibility requirements regarding tuition assistance, please contact Grant Coordinator Ashvin Raj at 276-523-2400 (ext.261) or at


State Board for Community Colleges to Consider 2020-21 Fees at May Meeting

In accordance with Section 23.1-307 (D) of the Code of Virginia, the State Board for Community Colleges provides notice that it will consider tuition and mandatory fee increases for Virginia’s Community Colleges, effective fall 2020, at 9 a.m. on May 21, 2020, via a virtual meeting. The address for that meeting will be posted on the Commonwealth Calendar no later than 5pm on May 13, 2020.

The State Board will consider mandatory fee increases of between 0 percent and 2.2 percent for all undergraduate students, subject to provisions of the 2020 session of the General Assembly. The community colleges will use revenue generated from any increases in mandatory fees to pay for contractual obligations, debt service, and proposed adjustments to student fees.

Public comment will be received at the meeting following approval of minutes of the preceding meeting and prior to committee reports. The public comment session will be available by via a virtual meeting, the location of which will be posted to the Commonwealth Calendar.

Individuals who wish to speak to the Board must notify, or provide written comment, to the Office of the Chancellor at least 5 working days prior to the scheduled meeting by emailing

All remarks before the State Board for Community Colleges must be matters germane and relevant to the agenda of the day.

MECC’s Cybersecurity Teams Succeed on National Stage

BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Mountain Empire Community College’s “Capture the Flag” (CTF) team, comprised of cybersecurity students, has placed second out of all Virginia community colleges and 18th out of 185 teams in the nation at two recent competitive events.

MECC’s CTF team for these events were students Macarthur Inbody (captain), Staci Fraley, Danielle Lamb, Noah Sturgill, Nathaniel Mullins and Shane Strong. Assistant Professor Ritchie Deel, who oversees MECC’s cybersecurity program, served as faculty mentor.

The team participated in two recent national CTF competitions—Radford University’s “RUSecure” competition and the National Cyber League’s (NCL) “Spring Season” contest. In the RUSecure event, MECC placed ahead of all other teams in the Southwest Virginia bracket, finishing second out of all Virginia community colleges and 18th out of 185 teams nationally. As a result, MECC was one of 30 teams invited to Radford’s campus to compete in the final “championship round” that was to be held in early April. Unfortunately, that event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the NCL individual competition, held April 3 – April 5, Inbody placed in the 92nd percentile (out of 657 participants) in the tournament’s highest “Gold” bracket. Fraley placed in the 76th percentile (out of 1,536 participants) in the “Silver” bracket and Sturgill competed in the “Bronze” bracket. Bracket assignments were based on each student’s performance in preliminary rounds.

CTFs are competitions that test teams’ ability to solve challenges that relate to the cybersecurity industry. With each challenge solved, a team acquires a “flag,” and the team with the most flags by the end of a competition is named the winner.

CTFs are becoming more common throughout the country as the cybersecurity industry expands rapidly, and employers often use them to find and recruit talent. Both the RUSecure and NLC events were open to all high school and college teams in the country, and their online formats allowed competitors to participate from their homes provided they had access to a computer and a working internet connection.

MECC offers a Cybersecurity Career Studies Program that can be completed in one year. Those interested in enrolling in the program can visit or contact Ritchie Deel at 276.523.2400 ext. 444.


MECC Health Information Management Program Earns National Accreditation

HIM Student Amber Wallace and HIM Instructor Sabrina Ward

(Left to Right) Student Amber Wallace and HIM Instructor Sabrina Ward


Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College’s Health Information Management (HIM) Program has earned national accreditation with CAHIIM, the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

MECC launched its Associate Degree of Applied Science in Health Information Management Program in 2013 through an initial grant through HRSA, Health Resources and Services Administration. The program has maintained consistent enrollment, with more than 40 program graduates thus far. Graduates of the HIM program are eligible to sit for the Registered Health Information Technician certification offered only by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). 

To achieve accreditation status, institutions must develop a program that meets the professional curriculum content and the quality of the program as measured by the American Health Information Management Association Academic Standards. Program administrators must ensure that the program is sustainable per its resource and needs assessment. The program must be developed to ensure stability professionally and financially. The HIM program at Mountain Empire Community College is the only accredited program for HIM in Southwest Virginia.

In addition, CAHIIM accredited programs must have a program director and at least one full time faculty who have earned the professional certification of Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Program Director Nora Blankenbecler and Instructor Sabrina Ward have earned and maintain RHIA status and together have led the effort to apply for national accreditation through CAHIIM. The HIM program is governed by an advisory committee consisting of health information and health informatics leaders from regional hospital networks, a national healthcare software company and ambulatory care practice administrators.

“Accreditation of the HIM program at MECC demonstrates the focus we put on our students and the success they are looking for in their careers,” said Blankenbecler. “The program has already had a significant impact that has changed students’ lives.”

Health information management is the practice of managing medical information and data vital to providing quality patient care, sound fiscal management of medical resources, and data governance that support confidentiality of protected health information. Management of this data includes acquisition, analysis, and protection of digital and traditional types of information.

“The award of CAHIIM accreditation status provides assurances to the our students and employers that MECC meets high quality standards in the production and delivery of its Health Information Management Associate Degree program,” added MECC President Kristen Westover.

For more information on MECC’s Health Information Management program, visit or call Nora Blankenbecler, Program Director, at 276.523. 2400 ext. 241.

For more information on MECC or the Title III grant, visit the college’s website at or contact the college’s Office of Public Relations at 276.523.7480.



MECC Staff Producing Face Shields for Area Medical Personnel

Jake Gilley face Shield

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College faculty and staff have joined a regional effort by higher education institutions to help produce face shields needed by local medical personnel to protect against the COVID-19 virus.

MECC Computer-Aided Drafting and Design Instructor Jake Gilly said he has turned a corner in his home into a makeshift manufacturing center to produce the masks with two 3-D printers working simultaneously.
Gilly, who had already brought one 3-D printer to his home in order to teach classes online this semester, launched a partnership with Streamworks in Kingsport to download a face shield template and start producing the masks this week. He’s joined a regional effort by Eastman, Ballad Health, Northeast State, East Tennessee State University, UVA-Wise and others to support medical personnel through 3-D printing capabilities.  

Two other MECC staff, Kody Witt and Courtney Hay, have also joined the effort, working from home.

“We’re printing the head pieces for the face shields,” Gilly said. “We will send these to Streamworks to distribute to Ballad Health locally. It takes an hour and twenty minutes to print one, and I have two printers going right now. I was able to make 10 last night. It’s our hope that we can supply hundreds for this effort.”
Gilly noted that Prusa3D, one of the biggest 3-D print companies, has provided open source templates for 3-D printers to use.  MECC already had supplies ordered to support classroom instruction for the spring and summer. Gilly said he has shifted those supplies to produce the needed masks and is incorporating the process into his online instruction.
We want to help them get as many as we can,” said Gilly. “I’m thankful that we can help and honored to work with such great people.” 
For more information on Mountain Empire Community College or the 3-D printing program, please visit or call the MECC Office of Community Relations at 276.523.7480.

MECC Students Participate in Alternative Spring Break

Alterantive Spring Break 2020


Big Stone Gap, VA – Five Mountain Empire Community College students opted to spend their spring break volunteering on MECC’s second annual Alternative Spring Break trip sponsored by Student Activities.

The team traveled to Berkeley County, SC and partnered with Habitat for Humanity to work on construction of a new house for a family in need. Over the course of four days, the team worked in the ReStore retail store processing donations, put up soffit along the porch ceiling, measured and installed j channel and utility strip along the front porch, began the siding work on the front porch, and did some painting and installed shelving for the local community center.

The MECC students who participated were: Madison Childress, Cameron Cope, Zoe Falin, Amelia Strouth, and Yijia Wang. Students applied for the team during the Fall 2019 semester and were invited to participate in the service trip, which took place from March 8-13, 2020 during MECC’s Spring Break. Zoe Falin said of her experience: “Alternative Spring Break was a life-changing and eye opening experience. It taught me that giving back can be fun.” The team got to work with volunteers from Siena College and St. Louis University and learned valuable skills from the Habitat Berkeley professional construction crew.

The MECC team worked hard all week, but managed to find some time for fun activities as well. The team sampled some cuisine that many had never tried before, walked along Folly Beach, and visited a Chinese New Year lantern exhibit at the Magnolia Plantation Gardens. Cameron Cope summed up the week: “The opportunity to serve others while also learning life skills, building personal relationships, and experiencing unforgettable memories is one I’ll cherish forever.”

For more information regarding MECC’s Alternative Spring Break or other student activities, please contact Kari Paschetto, Great Expectations and Student Activities Coordinator, at 276.523.2400 ext. 422.

MECC’s “Capture the Flag” (CTF) team has advanced to the final round of Radford University’s annual “RU Secure” national CTF competition.

MECC’s “Capture the Flag” (CTF) team has advanced to the final round of Radford University’s annual “RU Secure” national CTF competition. The “redFoxes” achieved the highest score of any college or high school in the Southwest Virginia category, qualifying them for the competition’s final round per contest rules. Overall, the team finished 18th out of 185 competing teams, and they also finished ahead of all but one VCCS college. CTFs are online challenges that test teams’ ability to solve challenges that relate to the cybersecurity industry. With each challenge solved, a team acquires a “flag,” and the team with the most flags by the end of the competition is named the winner. CTFs are becoming more common throughout the country as the cybersecurity industry expands rapidly, and employers often use them as way to assess and recruit talent.

The MECC “redFoxes” are comprised of MECC students Macarthur Inbody (captain), Danielle Lamb, Noah Sturgill, Nathaniel Mullins, and Jonathan (Shane) Strong. The team is coached by Associate Professor Ritchie Deel. MECC is proud to support the “redFoxes” as they prepare for the championship round that will take place online in April (original plans to hold the competition onsite at Radford University have been amended due to national health concerns).

Update on MECC preparations for COVID-19 outbreak

Dear Mountain Empire College Community,

I want to be sure to keep you abreast of the latest news and decisions regarding COVID-19 and the potential spread of the virus. As of March 11, 2020 at 5:00 PM, there were 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia. The Virginia Governor’s Office confirmed this morning that all 9 of those cases can be traced to a source such as foreign travel, and those infected did not contract the virus through sustained community transmission. At this time, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have both reported that there are no cases of sustained community transmission of COVID-19 in Virginia. The Governor has not declared an emergency. Tennessee saw its first reported case of COVID-19 on March 6th, and has less than 10 confirmed cases at this time. Kentucky also has at least 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

This afternoon, Northern Virginia Community College, Germanna Community College, The University of Virginia, and UVA- Wise made the difficult decisions to either suspend coursework and/or move coursework online. This is an option MECC may need to exercise in the future, and we are preparing our services and campus for this possibility. Our campus demographics do not mirror these institutions.  We are not in Northern Virginia; we do not have dorms, nor do we have a significant population of international students. We plan to continue to be hyper-vigilant in promoting COVID-19 protocols, monitor the situation and continue to plan for a disruption in courses and services with the Emergency Management Team.

While this news is not cause for panic, we must continue to be diligent in preparing for a possible regional outbreak. Please continue to prevent the spread of infectious disease through adherence to CDC infection control protocols such as handwashing, hygiene and household sanitation. This is a rapidly evolving issue. Facts about the status of the virus, what we know about it, CDC guidance on best practices and the number of people impacted are all changing hour to hour. MECC’s Administration and Emergency Management Team are monitoring the situation closely and will keep you informed via email, campus alerts, our website and social media outlets if there is a decision to change MECC operations.


Stay Healthy!

Kristen Westover, Ed.D.

President, Mountain Empire Community College

MECC Foundation Announces 2020 Lonesome Pine Short Story and Poetry Contest Winners

Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Lonesome Pine Short Story and Poetry Contests. The Contest was held in conjunction with the 44th annual John Fox Jr. Literary Festival, held Wednesday, March 4.

Middle School Short Story

First Place: Corey Gray, Ridgeview Middle School, “The Wraith” Second Place: Olive Jeffery, Union Middle School, “The Dreaming Champion” Third Place: Leylah Hamilton, a homeschool student, “All in a Lifetime”

High School Short Story

First Place: Claire Childress, a homeschool student, “Celebrity Happiness” Second Place: Shelby Ann Peace, Union High School, “Like a Bat” Third Place: Emily Katelin Mae Hall, Central High School, “The Empress of Malatonia”

Adult Category Short Story

First Place: Donita Ratliff Kennedy, of Kingsport, “Sitting Up with the Dead” Second Place: Greg Sturgill, of Wise, “Red and Milky White” Third Place: Kelly Pilkenton, of Norton, “An Automatonomatic Fear”


Middle School Poetry

First Place: Kiarah Hamilton, a home school student, “Dreams Keep You Alive” Second Place: Rachel Mullins, Ridgeview Middle School, “Infinite Imagination” Third Place: Lauren Wood, Ridgeview Middle School, “Dear Shakespeare”

High School Poetry

First Place: Emily Kaitlin Mae Hall, Central High School, “In My Wildest Dreams” Second Place: Ethen Roberts, Sullivan Central High School, “Misspelled” Third place: Noah Smith, a homeschool student, “The Men of Culloden”

Adult Poetry

First Place: McKenzie Templeton, of Gate City, “Snowflakes” Second Place: Eboni Hamilton, of Big Stone Gap, “A Deer in the Headlights” Third Place: Donna Hamilton, of Church Hill, “The Girl and the Balloon”

For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at

Lonesome Pine Hospital Board To Assist MECC Nursing Students

Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce that the Lonesome Pine Hospital Board has provided a $6,000 gift to cover national testing fees for students enrolled in the College’s Registered Nursing program and who are employed by Ballad Health.

The program, established almost 15 years ago with the Wellmont Lonesome Pine Community Outreach Fund, has provided more than $30,000 and supported hundreds of nursing students in their efforts to obtain their licensure.

“These scholarships are a direct result of the foresight by the Lonesome Pine Hospital Board members who created this fund when Lonesome Pine Hospital joined the Wellmont Health System, and later on, Ballad Health. The goal was and is to improve the health and wellness of the people in our area. Supporting students who are employees of Ballad Health in their quest to obtain their education is critical to improving the health of our community, ” said Mike Allen, Chair of the Lonesome Pine Hospital Board.

“This is a good example of a wonderful partnership between MECC and the health providers that the college serves,” said MECC President Kristen Westover.  “These scholarships will benefit Ballad Health and MECC, but most of all, they will benefit students.  We are very grateful to our partners at Lonesome Pine Hospital for their generosity.”

For more information on MECC’s Registered Nursing program, please contact Kim Dorton, MECC’s Dean of Health Sciences, at or 276.523.7456. For more information on the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, visit or call 276.523.2400 ext. 466. 

MECC is currently seeking participants for Spring 2020’s National Cyber League

Cyber League Logo

Big Stone Gap- Mountain Empire Community College is looking for students to compete in the National Cyber League (NCL), an online competition that consists of a series of challenges that allow students to demonstrate their ability to identify hackers from forensic data, audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Students that have taken ITN 260 and ITN 261 will feel most comfortable with the material. Additional information can be found at If interested, please contact Ritchie Deel ( or Ashvin Raj ( by March 10 so that they can register you. There are only eight slots available for this event.     

MECC announces fall semester Honor’s List & fall semester President’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Honor’s List for the fall 2019 semester. Students are eligible for the Honor’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.5 to 3.79 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.


APPALACHIA: Shaphan Fisher, Caden Gibson, Nathaniel Herron, Kobe Johnson, Samantha Sizemore, and Amber Stidham.

BEN HUR: Madison Johnson.

BIG STONE GAP: Erin Austin, Jesse Austin, Kirsten Barker, Amber Boring, Victoria Chestnut, Caitlyn Clymer, Jacob Coomer, Emma Dietz, Alyssa Dupree, Rebekah Earwood, Christina Gibson, Saylor Gilly, Jacob Goodman, Nicholas Guerrant, Lauren Harkleroad, Emily Hurd, Jacob Legg, Keerston Lovell, Billy McMillan, Tiffine McMillan, Noah Moneyhun, Samantha Owens, Madalyn Ratcliffe, Elizabeth Rock, Tiffany Seals, Crystal Sexton, Madison Shuler, and Megan Wagner.

BIRCHLEAF: Kayla Combs.

BLACKWATER: Katherine Anderson.

BRISTOL, VA: Matthew Sullivan.

CASTLEWOOD: Olivia Powers and Selena Powers.

CLINCHCO: Mary Bise, Cheyenne Blansett, and Makenzie Robinette.

CLINTWOOD: Christy Edwards, Emily Elswick, Max Fletcher, Noah Mullins, Trenton Robinson, and Tabitha Wallace.

COEBURN: Gabrielle Beverly, Connor Blevins, Mitchell Holbrook, Monica Light, Justin Palmer, Charity Pridemore, Zachary Rose, Kevin Smith, Seirra Smith, Tori Stevens, Justin Wade, and Aaron Williams.

DANTE: Anthony Kiser.

DRYDEN: Jonnie Mullins, Hannah Phillips, Hannah Reasor, and Kayla Thatcher.

DUFFIELD: Jacob Stanley, Christie Baker, Seth Berry, Matthew Gibson, Nevin Haines, Travis Harless, Ryan McDavid, Hank Middleton, Brian Pearcy, Christian Sayers, Brandon Statzer, Logan Tomlinson, Dominic Webb, and Chloe Young.

DUNGANNON: Natalie Adams, Lauren Duncan, and Mary Hensley.

EOLIA, KY: Emily Brock and Logan Sturgill.

ERMINE, KY: Joshua Ferris.

EWING: Seth Zumbrum.

FT. BLACKMORE: Bailey Butler, Taylor Darnell, and Kara Smith.

GATE CITY: Taylor Blevins, Landon Fletcher, Ashton Ford, Kadmiel Gardner, Valerie McConnell, William Painter, Lindsay Starnes, and Jonathan Strong.

HAYSI: Raegan Lamkin and Quinlan Turner.

HILTONS: Phyllis McGlothlin.

JOHNSON CITY, TN: Beckwith Callaham.

JONESVILLE: Bailee Chadwell, Caleb Coleman, Aleigha Cope, Asia Dean, Wesley Gilliam, Kalee Hibbard, Jonah Hilton, April Kolb, Aren Lambert, Michael Rutledge, and Andrew Sanders.

KINGSPORT, TN: Piper Banks, Elisabeth Roberts, and Shyanne Van Heel.

NICKELSVILLE: Amber Collins, Mckenna Dean, Mahalia Kinsler, Zachary Lane, Gerald McConnell, Frank Miano, Peyton Peters, Aubrey Powers, Victoria Quillen, Mary Ramsey, and Mackenzie Warner.

NORTON: Summer Bower, Mark Caruso, Kaden Fisher, Michael Gilliam, Ronald Gilliam, Nathaniel Herron, Elijah Lovell, Kaylei Miller, Sydney Phillips, Heather Phipps, and Jacqueline Rose.

PENNINGTON GAP: Andrew Barrier, Cameron Byington, Eden Calton, Jim Clark, Chasity Russell, Lisa Scott, and Alexander Stafford.

POUND: David Brummitte, Hannah Carter, Tanzania Earl, Bryanna Harris, and Amber Quillen.

ROSE HILL: Darien Cottrell, Brian Humphrey, and Tyler Hunley.

ST. PAUL: Brandon Armistead.

WEBER CITY: Tapanga Gillenwater, Seth Lucas, and Jamie Watts.

WISE: Buffy Bell, Emily Daugherty, Ericka Fisher, John Hines, Meghan Lovelace, Tristan Miller, Pausha Mullins, Karrie Powers, Makayla Powers, Kayla Roberts, Peyton Rogers, Jason Stine, and Loretta Wampler.



The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College President’s List for the fall 2019 semester. Students are eligible for the President’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.8 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.


ABINGDON: Savannah Brooks.

APPALACHIA: Ethan Bowman, Madison Head, Nathaniel Mullins, Racheal Needham, Christian Worley, and Brittany Worley-Johnson.

BIG STONE GAP: Ashley Cusano, Kali Durham, Zoe Falin, Krystina Gangl, Britan Gilly, Sydney Hall, Ethan Harris, Nathaniel Hersel, Taylor Hillman, David Kelley, Christopher Koontz, Danielle Lamb, Brooke Light, Michael Martin, Krista Meredith, Lisa Milanese, Sophia Morgan, Brayden Mozingo, Larissa Phillips, Koby Poff, Sydney Stapleton, Jared Sullivan, and Trevor Wagner.

BIRCHLEAF: Raegan Rasnick.

BLACKWATER: Yvonne Hiter and Joshua Winegar.

BRISTOL, VA: Holly Jones.

CASTLEWOOD: Allison Compton.

CHURCH HILL, TN: Michaela Franklin, Ashtyn Gibson, and Brooklyn Smith.

CLINCHCO: CheyAnn McCowan.

CLINTWOOD: Kalianna Brooks, Emily Browning, Tammy Cochran, Gabriel Counts, Nicholas Cox, Bethany Davis, Hannah Flint, Carson Fuller, Dawson Hillyer, Jordan Moore, Selena Moore, Brycen Mullins, Haley Mullins, Michael Porter, Ashley Ramey, Ryan Reynolds, and Amelia Strouth.

COEBURN: Tyler Bright, Caleb Carico, Hannah Davis, Amber Freeman, Anthony Freeman, James Kilgore, Jonathan Lawson, Elizabeth McReynolds, Kirklyn Milgrim, Whitney Mooney, Katherine Perry, Kaylee Sexton, Shannon Smith, and Hope Stidham.

DANTE: Ayden Vitatoe.

DRYDEN: Colt Muncy, Brandon Smith, and Tori Travis.

DUFFIELD: Morgan Baker, Aaron Best, Savannah Bowen, Hayden Dean, Janis Garrett, Alexis Horton, Preston McElyea, Caitlin Summey, Lydia Tankersley, Darin Vaughan, and Makayla Ward.

DUNGANNON: Christopher Oaks.

EAST STONE GAP: Raven Cantrell, Hannah Carter, Staci Fraley, and Aki Godsey.

EWING: Peyton Redinger.

FT. BLACKMORE: Kert Gibson and Michael Griffin.

GATE CITY: Kasey Barber, Elizabeth Barnett, Kallie Berry, Abigail Bledsoe, Marissa Canter, Faith Church, Dylon Clark, Macy Dishner, Jason Fields, Ambria Hagy, Destiny Hatfield, Samantha Jerrell, Avery Johnson, Elizabeth Jones, Caroline Musick, Hailey Musick, Hanna Musick, Brandi Osborne, Aubrie Penley, Teresa Phillips, Madison Pierce, Kendal Quillen, Charles Quinn, Lex Reed, Luke Reed, Chloe Smith, Caleb Spicer, Makenzie Stallard, Chase Templeton, Amanda Vermillion, Loren Vermillion, and Abby Williams.

HAYSI: Brandy Presley, Kloe Rife, and Shellby Rose.

HILTONS: Carter Babb and Ava Seagle.

JONESVILLE: Jerry Allen, Madison Combs, Heriberto Donato, Sarah Graham, Jordan Hampton, Kelly Harvel, Caleb Haynes, Timothy Long, Abigail Middleton, Noah Middleton, Callie Perkins, Madison Phipps, Sarah Sumpter, Alexis Turner, Allison Wilson, and Tanya Woodard.

KEOKEE: Sheena Bloomer.

KINGSPORT, TN: Tara Adams, Breanna Bernard, and Baylie Jones.

MT. CARMEL, TN: Jonathan Compton.

NICKELSVILLE: Jared Helbert, Cynthia Herron, Amber McConnell, and Whitney White.

NORA: Amanda O’Quinn.

NORTON: Roland Cochrane, Laken Culbertson, Morgan Fawbush, Alanna Gray, Blake Hammonds, Kelsey Lawson, Lucas Messer, Maggie Moore, Zoe Niece, Jackson Orr, Kelly Pilkenton, Jaden Pritchard, Caelen Robinette, Adran Smith, Bailey Sturgill, Davina Vanover, Tammy Ward, and Aidan Wells.

PENNINGTON GAP: Alanah Aldridge, Jacob Bledsoe, Kaylee Glascoe, Noah Harber, Mary Litton, Lisa Penix, Curtis Reece, Gregory Seals, Michael Snodgrass, Matthew Spears, Jacob Whitaker, and Morgan Woliver.

POUND: Carrie Adams, Andrea Anunson, Hunter Grant, Alexa Lester, Sadra Mullins, Wallace Mullins, Christian Rose, Maddison Smith, Amber Sowards, Benjamin Stallard, Kathleen Steffey, Adrianna Sturgill, Yijia Wang, and Qing Yang. WEBER CITY: Kaylyn Collier.

WISE: Celeste Aguinaga, Nicole Aguirre, Olivia Basham, Tina Beaver, Joshua Church, Sandra Collins, Taylor Gentry, Brittany Gibson, Maegan Gruber-Basenback, Sagan Holbrook, Tyler Hopkins, Shona Josey, James Kinser, Emily Mullins, Izah Qureshi, Casey Sexton, and Noah Sturgill.

MECC offers a free Quick Start to College class designed for individuals who have considered college, but have hesitated to enroll.

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College offers a free Quick Start to College class designed for individuals who have considered college, but have hesitated to enroll.

The course allows students the opportunity to obtain college credit at no cost without having to enroll for a full semester. To qualify, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED).

The course will include an orientation to the basics of college life at MECC. Students will be able to learn how to find offices and classes on campus, use online learning tools, and MECC email. Career counseling sessions will also be included so that students can learn more about program offerings that best fit their interests.

The course will cover computer basics including using Word and saving documents to flash drives. Students will also focus on math and English. Students will be able to freshen up on important basics that will help them take or retake the math and English placement tests.

 The Spring Quick Start program will be offered:

Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.) February 11 – March 5

  • February 11 & 13  – Orientation and Campus Information

  • February 18 & 20 – Computer Skills

  • February 25 – English Skills

  • February 27 & March 3 – Career Exploration and College Success Skills 

  • March 5 – Math Skills

For more information or to register for Quick Start, Contact Beth Boggs, Career & Transfer Counselor,; 276-523-7438 or visit our website:

Mountain Empire Community College will hold a Career & Transfer Fair

Career & Transfer FairBig Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will hold a Career & Transfer Fair on Wednesday, February 5 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Goodloe Center, Phillips-Taylor Hall. More than 35 representatives for regional employers and local transfer institutions will be on campus.

Attend the fair to ask questions regarding employment or transfer requirements; learn about job placement services or internships; discuss the opportunities that may be available to you; learn about your marketability; talk to employers about job openings; and speak with transfer representatives about course requirements.

Even those who are not immediately seeking employment have plenty to learn from the Career & Transfer Fair. Representatives can provide valuable insight to what employers are looking for when screening new hires. This insight can assist students and community members in refining their resumes and help them know which skills to focus on improving. Those attending are invited to bring copies of their resume and be prepared to complete job applications for those representatives that may be hiring. Transfer institutions will be available to speak to current students or recent graduates about admissions requirements and program options. 

For more information on MECC’s Career & Transfer Fair, contact Beth Boggs, Career and Transfer Counselor, at 276.523.2400 ext. 324 or, or visit

MECC Foundation to Host Lee County Endowed Scholarship Valentine’s Dinner

Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation and the Lee County Endowed Scholarship Committee will hold a special Valentine’s Day dinner to raise funds benefiting the Lee County Endowed Scholarship.

The Foundation has received a $30,000 match pledge for the scholarship from the Slemp Foundation. All donations, including proceeds from the dinner, will be matched up to $30,000.

The dinner will be held Friday, February 14 at 6 p.m., in the Goodloe Center at Mountain Empire Community College. There will be a silent auction, along with delicious food and beverages from North Fork Catering Company in Weber City. Wine will be available for purchase from MountainRose Vineyards and Winery in Wise. It will be an exciting event that you will not want to miss!

To purchase tickets, or serve as an event sponsor, please visit or call Jeri Bledsoe, MECC Foundation Annual Fund Coordinator, at 276.523.2400 ext. 287. For more information on the MECC Foundation, call the Foundation office at 276.523.7466, or visit online at

Nominations Sought for 2020 MECC Outstanding Alumnus Award

Alumni logo

Big Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Alumni Advisory Committee is seeking nominations for the 2020 MECC Outstanding Alumnus Award, which recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to one or more areas of society, i.e., professional, academic, and personal achievements, civic service, or service to MECC.

All living MECC alumni who have completed at least one class at MECC are eligible to be nominated and considered for the award. Self-nominations are also welcome. Current members of the MECC Local Advisory and Foundation Boards of Directors, current faculty and staff of the college, and members of the MECC Alumni and Friends Advisory Committee are not eligible to receive the award.

The nomination form is available online at the MECC website, or at the MECC Foundation website, There is no limit to the number of nominations that one may submit. The deadline for nominations for the 2020 Outstanding Alumnus Award is February 28, 2020.

A subcommittee of the MECC Alumni Advisory Committee will select the winner of the award and the winner will be announced at the annual Scholars’ Recognition Night banquet to be held in March.

For questions, please contact Jeri Bledsoe in the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-2400, extension 287, or at


MECC Foundation to Host 44th Annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival & Lonesome Pine Short-Story and Poetry Contests

Big Stone Gap, VA — The MECC Foundation, in partnership with the Lonesome Pine Regional Library and the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Project, is pleased to announce the 44th annual John Fox, Jr. Literary Festival, featuring a presentation by guest author Silas House, on Wednesday, March 4 at 10 a.m. in the Goodloe Center of Phillips-Taylor Hall. 

In coordination with the festival event, the MECC Foundation will host the 33rd Annual Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest and the 16th Annual Lonesome Pine Poetry Contest. The deadline for submitting entries is Thursday, February 20 at 4:30 p.m. Entry categories include adult, high school (grades 9 through 12), and middle school (grades 5 through 8) categories.  Contest rules are available on the MECC Foundation website at of the contest will be announced during the Literary Festival Event.

SilasSilas House is the New York Times-bestselling author of six novels, including his first, Clay’s Quilt (2001), now considered a foundational text in Appalachian literature, and his most recent, Southernmost (2018), which was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and won awards including the Weatherford Prize for Fiction.

House is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered”.  His writing appears frequently in The New York Times and Salon and has been published in TimeEcotoneGarden and GunOxford American, and many other places.  House is a native of Eastern Kentucky and teaches at Berea College and in the Spalding School of Writing.

Books will be available to purchase and for author signing.  The John Fox, Jr. Festival will be followed by a reservation-only luncheon with the featured speaker at the John Fox, Jr. Museum in Big Stone Gap.  Tickets for the luncheon are $25 per person and reservations can be made by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7466.


For more information on the MECC Foundation, please visit our website at  

-MECC Foundation-

MECC’s “Capture the Flag” (CTF) team finished 12th out of 326 competing teams in Radford University’s annual “RU Secure” CTF competition.

MECC’s “Capture the Flag” (CTF) team finished 12th out of 326 competing teams from universities and high schools across the country in Radford University’s annual “RU Secure” CTF competition. CTFs are online challenges that test teams’ ability to solve challenges that relate to the cybersecurity industry. With each challenge solved, a team acquires a “flag,” and the team with the most flags by the end of the competition is named the winner. CTFs are becoming more common throughout the country as the cybersecurity industry expands rapidly, and employers often use them as way to assess and recruit talent.

The “redFoxes” team is comprised of MECC students Macarthur Inbody (captain), Danielle Lamb, Noah Sturgill, Nathaniel Mullins, and Jonathan (Shane) Strong. The team is coached by Assistant Professor Ritchie Deel. MECC is proud to support the “redFoxes” in its quest to finish among the top seven teams (qualifying round in March 2020) so that they can earn a spot in the final round, held on Radford’s campus, in April 2020.

MECC Foundation Announces Debra Rene Greene Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Debra GreeneBig Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce the establishment of the Debra Rene Greene Memorial Endowed Scholarship benefiting MECC students interested in careers in social work and counseling.

Debra was the daughter of Charles R. Greene and the late Mary Roberts Greene. The scholarship was created by her father, following Debra’s death in June 2019. Charles felt privileged to have witnessed the academic achievements and contributions of his daughter despite early onset kidney failure shortly after her graduation from J.J. Kelly High School in 1984.

Debra was a 29-year kidney transplant survivor having received her donor kidney from her uncle, Dennis Greene. Despite this obstacle she received her Associate Degree from Mountain Empire Community College in 1993 and her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Virginia Intermont College in 1996. She served eleven years as Guidance Counselor at the Flatwoods Job Corps in Coeburn, Virginia positively influencing many young lives as evidenced by their fond remembrance of her.

Debra was also a born-again Christian and attended Bethel Chapel Freewill Baptist Church. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, always offering a warm smile, a cheerful greeting, and an uplifting faith in Jesus Christ. She loved to laugh and to have others laugh with her bringing joy to their lives.

Gifts in honor of Debra can be made to the Debra Rene Greene Memorial Scholarship, Mountain Empire Community College Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219 or online at Please list the scholarship name in the gift memo.

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community. The Foundation supports more than $300,000 in scholarships annually.

For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit


Dr. Kristen Westover Fund Established at MECC

Westover Portrait Chromatics09-25-2018 proofBig Stone Gap – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to announce that a new fund, the President Kristen Westover Fund, has been established to provide resources for learning and professional development.  

 The Fund, established by members of Dr. Westover’s family, will be specifically used to assist with faculty, staff, and student professional development, recognition and learning tools. Dr. Westover, who has served as President of MECC since July 1, 2017, has established a Leadership Academy at MECC for staff and is developing a leadership training for students as well.  

  Additional contributions to the fund are welcome. All gifts to the President Kristen Westover Fund are fully tax-deductible. Should any funds remain after Dr. Westover’s presidency, they will be available to future presidents to use for the same purpose as indicated by the donor.   

 I am extremely appreciative to my amazingly supportive family for establishing this Fund,” said Dr. Westover. “We recognize the challenges students face in accessing and completing college, the challenges faculty face in ensuring their skills and knowledge are relevant in today’s rapidly changing environment, and the burden of the expense of funding professional development. This fund will also provide resources to help build and strengthen current and future leaders through support of the employee and student leadership programs offered by MECC.”  

 The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation supports the mission of Mountain Empire Community College by providing scholarships and funding for student success programs, professional development for faculty, and cultural programs for the community.  

 For more information regarding scholarships or to establish a scholarship, please contact the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation at 276.523.7466 or visit 



MECC students earn five of top six scores at regional cybersecurity competition.

Wise, VA – On Thursday, October 24, MECC cybersecurity and software development students competed in UVa-Wise’ second annual BSides Capture the Flag competition, a computer-based individual competition that tests participants ability to problem-solve with regards to information technology and security. MECC students Macarthur Inbody and Noah Sturgill were two of three competitors who tied for 1st place. In addition, Danielle Lamb, Jonathan (Shane) Strong, and Noah Moneyhun respectively earned 3rd, 4th, and 5th place out of a field of over 60 participants. MECC would like to congratulate these students and all other participating MECC students for their success and hard work during this event. Also appreciated is the dedication of MECC faculty Terri Lane and Ritchie Deel, who served as faculty mentors for this competition.

MECC Foundation Raises $100,000 to Support Scott County Students

Hiltons, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation recently raised an estimated $60,000 at a special event to assist Scott County students attending MECC.

With this year’s total, the Scott County Endowed Scholarship Committee has raised more than $100,000 in two years to support the Scott County Endowed Scholarship Fund. More than 70 percent of all students in Scott County that choose to attend college in Virginia, attend MECC. This scholarship will provide opportunities for those students to reach their educational and career goals while lessening the financial burden of families.

The Scott County Endowed Scholarship Fundraiser was held at Crooked River Farm in Hiltons, featuring renowned musicians Wayne Henderson and the late Helen White as well as the Jeff Little Trio. Catering was provided by North Fork Catering in Weber City. A silent auction was also held.

Major sponsors for the event included David & Annette Templeton, owners of Crooked River Farm, and Courtesy Chevrolet. Additional sponsors include Mark & Judy Musick, Humphreys Enterprises, Jack & Martha Rhoton, New Peoples Bank, R-Mac Realty, Eastman Credit Union, Powell Valley National Bank, Komatsu, Scott County Telephone Cooperative, the Town of Gate City, Cox Tractor, Athletics Unlimited, Dr. Bill Fuller, David Jackson & Associations, CPA, Egan Construction, Aldebaran Financial Services, Otis Rhoton & Food City. 

Silent auction items were provided by Nora Blankenbecler, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival, Bristol Motor Speedway, CK Salon, Cattails at Meadowview, Made by Hands Flora. David J. Clapp – The Art of Photography, Lonesome Pine Country Club, Jennifer Fletcher Meade, Mendota Farms, Orchard Barn, The Meadows Restaurant, Paul Mitchell Systems, Roberts & Jones, Rush Street Grill, The Sessions Hotel and Mountain View Lodge.

For the second year, all funds raised were matched by a generous gift from the estate of Joyce Tallman. Ms. Tallman served as assistant to the president at the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta for more than 30 years of her 50 years with the organization. Following her death in 2018, her estate has provided more than $50,000 in funds to support Scott County students.

“We are incredibly grateful to the many supporters who made this event possible,” said Amy Greear, MECC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and MECC Foundation Executive Director. “The Scott County Endowed Scholarship will benefit Scott County students now and in the years to come. Our single purpose is to remove any financial barrier for a student to attend MECC. We want all students to be able to reach their career and educational goals in order to live and work in our region. We are closer to doing that now thanks to the generosity of this community.”

For more information on the Scott County Endowed Scholarship or to donate to this fund, call the MECC Foundation office at 276.523.7480 or visit

MECC Receives $2.2M Federal Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College is pleased to announce the College has been awarded a $2.2M Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions grant.  MECC’s Pathways to Student Success grant will support expansion of academic programs, renovation of classroom spaces, and additional student advising support.

The goal of MECC’s Title III grant is to improve student’s access to education through expansion of academic programming in the science and health science areas, offer additional classes and flexible class scheduling, and require students to participate in comprehensive, one-on-one advising. As a result, student retention and completion rates will be increased. In addition, MECC students will benefit from improved quantitative literacy skills through additional faculty training and improved technology.

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of a Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “This funding will provide resources to grow our Science and Health Science program offerings, more advisors to assist students in navigating their academic programs, and professional development opportunities and improved technology for faculty and classrooms.  The success of our students is core to everything we do at MECC, and the Title III grant will provide the College with resources that will grow our already strong programs and services for students and the community. Additionally, through the grant, we have the opportunity to leverage these resources to strengthen our endowment funds, resulting in more affordable access to higher education for the residents of our region.”

The five-year grant will enable MECC to hire four new full-time faculty members in science and health science program areas. Additionally, two laboratories will be renovated at the Big Stone Gap campus to be used in biology, anatomy, phlebotomy, and pharmacy tech courses.

Another aspect of this award allows the College to participate in an endowment challenge to increase the College’s endowment funds.  As part of the challenge, the MECC Foundation has set a goal to raise $225,000 over a five-year period, with all funds raised to be matched by the Title III grant. The funds will be used to support the goals outlined in the grant program.

“The MECC Foundation is excited to announce our goal to raise $225,000 to support students and college infrastructure improvements. The pledge match from the Strengthening Institutions Grant will result in a significant, long-term impact to our campus and our region,” said Amy Greear, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the MECC Foundation.

Founded in 1972, MECC is a two-year, comprehensive public community college serving Dickenson, Scott, Lee, and Wise Counties as well as the City of Norton in southwest Virginia. The college offers more than ninety career studies certificate and associate degree programs with majors designed for both college transfer and technical education leading directly to employment. MECC serves approximately 3,500 credit students annually and 2,400 students annually through non-credit training programs.

For more information on MECC or the Title III grant, visit the college’s website at or contact the college’s Office of Public Relations at 276.523.7480.



MECC Career & Transfer Services to hold Two Informational Fairs

MECC Career & Transfer Services will host two Informational Fairs next week. The Annual Fall Transfer Fair will be on Tuesday, October 22 and the Inaugural Program Fair will be on Wednesday, October 23.

The purpose of the Transfer Fair is to allow students and graduates the opportunity to meet with representatives from various institutions all in one afternoon. Participants can gain important information that will help aid them in making an informed transfer decision. Representatives will discuss things like program options, scholarship opportunities and requirements for transferring. Many representatives have new and exciting information about their institution to share with participants. Students are encouraged to meet with several institutions to ensure they make the best decision when it comes to their transfer education. Participants of the Transfer Fair can also enter to win door prizes.  

The Program Fair will highlight some of the programs offered at Mountain Empire Community College. Faculty members will be available to speak with individuals about the course requirements of the program, job prospects, salary ranges, and course offerings. Students can benefit from seeing the variety of programs offered here and speaking with faculty members they may not have met before to hear about options available to them. The Program Fair is timely, as it takes place two days before early enrollment for Spring 2020, so students can take the information they gain from the Program Fair and use it to help build their schedules for the Spring semester.

 For more information on transferring to further your education, contact Beth Boggs, Career & Transfer Counselor at

MECC Foundation to Host Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers in Clintwood

Clintwood, VA — The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation is pleased to host Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Clintwood’s Jettie Baker Center. 

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at the Clintwood Town Hall or the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood (cash or check purchases) as well as online at  All proceeds will benefit the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation’s Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship. 

The Dickenson County Endowed Scholarship Committee is currently seeking sponsorships to support event costs. Sponsorships are $100 and up and include tickets, branding, and special recognition. For more information on becoming an event sponsor, visit  

Larry Sparks is a dedicated leader for bluegrass music and is among the most widely known and respected touring musicians in bluegrass and gospel music today. Larry began his career in the mid-1960s as a guitarist with the Stanley Brothers and later became lead vocalist for Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry went on to form his own band in 1969, The Lonesome Ramblers. He has recorded and toured with his band for nearly 50 years, releasing over 60 albums and delighting countless fans with his soulful vocals and unparalleled musicianship.

Larry’s hits include John Deere Tractor, A Face in the Crowd, Tennessee 1949, Blue Virginia Blues, I Just Want to Thank You Lord. Love of the Mountains, Goodbye Little Darlin, You Could Have Called, Tribute to Hank Williams, Green Pastures in the Sky and more. He has performed on such world famous venues as the Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits television show on PBS. Song of the Mountains on PBS. He has toured the United States, Canada, and Japan.

Larry has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Associations Male Vocalist of the Year. He was awarded Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year with his album Larry Sparks 40 featuring several artists such as Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall and many more.

Larry has been inducted into The International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and the George D. Hays Hall of Fame, Founder of The Grand Ole Opry.

For more information on the MECC Foundation and the Dickenson County Scholarship, visit

MECC Hosts 48th Annual Home Craft Days Festival

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College will once again welcome thousands of visitors to the campus this fall for the 48th Annual Home Craft Days Festival held Oct. 18-20.

Celebrating the rich music, culture, and artistry of Southwest Virginia, the Home Craft Days Festival features two full days of concerts, craft vendors, and demonstrations of weaving, pottery making, grist milling, wood crafting, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, tatting and more.

Heading this year’s free Friday night concert are the Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Tyler Hughes, and Todd Meade; Alice Gerrard and Kay Justice; and John McCutcheon. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. in MECC’s Phillips-Taylor Hall Goodloe Center.

According to festival coordinator Mike Gilley, “This annual festival is a homecoming, a chance for family and friends to gather and share our cultural heritage. We are excited to showcase the best of the region’s music, crafts, and food!”

Craft and food vendors will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s music schedule includes featured performers: Scott County Jam, Wise County Jam, Rich Kirby and Nate Polly, Danny Whited and Friends, Todd Meade and Family, Jack Wright, Jim Lloyd, Angie DeBord, Town Branch Bluegrass, Brandon Maggard, Empty Bottle String Band with the Center Stage Cloggers, Right Fork Ramblers, Kelsey Rae, The Childress Family, The Sheets Family, Joy Blair, Stone Mountain Serenaders with the Center Stage Cloggers, Popular Hill Reunion, Travis Kern, Richard Phillips and Friends, Crooked Road Ramblers, Thistle Dew, and Sigean.

Sunday’s performers include: Tyler Hughes and Todd Meade, Ms. Elli’s String Band, Doug Dorschug and Pam Randolph, MECC String Band, Glenn Roberts, The High Tops, Jack Beck, High Test Grass, John Haywood, Tommy Bledsoe, Bill McCall and Southern Country, Oscar Harris and Heather Pace, Willie Dodson and Saro Lynch, The String Dippers, My New Favorites, Smith Family Singers, Rita Quillen, Scott County Boys.

Admission is FREE to all the festival events. MECC is located on US Route 23 just south of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Parking and shuttles for the festival will be offered at five locations in Big Stone Gap. Shuttle rides are $1 per person at boarding. Locations include:

·         Union High School (formerly Powell Valley High School) – Front Parking Lot

·         Curbside, Wood Ave, in Front of Food City

·         Curbside, Municipal Parking Lot behind Post Office/Federal Building

·         Country Inn

·         Comfort Inn

For more information on the event, including a detailed schedule of vendors and musicians, visit the Home Craft Days website at

MECC Announces Summer Semester Honor’s, Merit & President’s List


MECC announces summer semester Honor’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Honor’s List for the summer 2019 semester.  Students are eligible for the Honor’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.5 to 3.79 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades. 

BIG STONE GAP:  Michael E. Storie 

CASTLEWOOD:  Anthony Scott Jessee, Jr.  

CLINTWOOD:  Ashley M Mullins.  

DUFFIELD:  Jessica Faye Baker. 

GATE CITY:  Yesha Abdiel Gardner and Aaron Scott Williams.  

JONESVILLE:  Cindy Louise Hawkes, Destini Collett Hicks, and Bethany Suzanne Ward. 

NORA:  Tiffany Marie Pigott. 

PENNINGTON GAP:  Nathan Gregory Bailey and Mary Melissa Hall. 

ST. PAUL: Marissa B. Moore.

STONEGA:  April Dawn Bailey. 

MECC announces summer semester Merit List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College Merit List for the summer 2019 semester. Students are eligible for the Merit List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.2 to 3.49 during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades, and part-time students who have between 6-11 credits and a GPA of 3.2 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

ABINGDON: Savannah Brooke Brooks and Kyle Douglas Hayes.

APPALACHIA: Shaphan Robert Fisher, Tanner Branson Hall, Nathaniel Patton, Mary T. Meade, Chantarae M. Shepard, Cameo Reese Smith, Brook Grace Wheatley, and Christian Ray Worley.

BEN HUR: Anthony Paul Swindall.

BIG STONE GAP: Kathy Davidson Austin, Alexis Jade Barker, Cierra Alexsis Barker, Kirsten McKayla Barker, Steven B. Boggs, Kailen Shaunta Brewer, Cheyenne Grace Burke, Caitlyn Mercedes Elizabeth Clymer, Cody Allen Cox, Alivia Gwenn Davidson, Mary Elizabeth Douglas, Kali Marie Durham, Aaron Earwood, Micah Nicole Elkins, Joseph Edward Freeman, Noah James Garrison, hristina Nicole Gibson, Saylor Reece Gilly, Jacob Nathaniell Goodman, Andrea Michelle Gross, Christopher Hoyt Hall, Saniah Jordan Hamilton, Benjamin Palmer Hersel, Amanda D. Hopson, Hannah Nicole Houston, David Patrick Kelley, Whitney Nichole Kelly, Aleah Abigail Litton, Tiffine Lee McMillan, Lisa M Milanese, Jada Britt Mullins, Jenna Kay Mullins, Nicholas Page Napier, Brandon Riley Newton, Koby Orion Poff, Colby Brian Renfro, Devin M. Robinette, Rahlyja Evan Thomas, Bailee L. Trent, Haven Raye White, Emalee Alexzandera Williams, and Sheena M. Woodward.

BIRCHLEAF: Kayla Marie Combs, Bobby W. Edwards, and Kayla Renee Mullins.

BLACKWATER: Joshua Thomas Max Winegar.

BRISTOL, VA: Michael D. Mason, Alyssia Lynn Moss, and Robin Renee States.

CALHOUN, GA: Erik Lamar Henson.

CASTLEWOOD: Nathaniel Lee Hardin.

CHURCH HILL, TN: Ethan David Billips.

CLINCHCO: Elizabeth Ann Brichant, Haley Faith Collins, and Nicholas Drew Mullins.

CLINTWOOD: Amber Nichole Crihfield, Haylee Chanel Dotson, Philip L. Edwards, Kelly R. Fleming, Mckenzie Alyce Hall, Mason Reiley Kendrick, Andrea Leeann Mullins, Ashton Faith O’Quinn, Kayleigh Ann Phipps, Travis W. Powers, Ryan E. Reynolds, Derick R. Robinson, Michael J. Salyer, Abigail Leah Stanley, and Kody Lee Whitt.

COEBURN: Adam Benjamin Couch, Natalee Jane Courtney, Lyndsey Brianna Fuller, Lacey Jade Holbrook, Hannah Marie Hughes, Andrea Brooke Kilgore, James Jacob Kilgore, Ariel G. Lawson, Olivia Anne Meade, Hunter Cole Stanley, Hope Danielle Stidham, and Justin T. Wade.

DRYDEN: Shelby Lynn Bowen, Chyanne Paige Bridges, Roseanna Jolene Dickenson, and Emily Cherish Smith.

DUFFIELD: Savannah Lynn Bowen, Myranda lee Brown, Veronica Marie Canto, Colton Glenn Eads, Trinidy Bella Estep, Jocelyn Bailey Fields, ,Jacob Isaac Gutierrez, Ammon Huish, Alexia Grace Livesay, Ryan Edward McDavid, Cieara Jean Allison Osborne, Jonathon Allen Parsons, Brittini Gail Potter, Ethan Lee Rhoton, Caitlin Brooke Summey, Lydia Ann Tankersley, and Jennilyn Ava Walling.

DUNGANNON: Christopher Alain Oaks.

EAST STONE GAP: Evan Bryce Rasnick.

EWING: Sarah Jessica Long.

FERRUM: Michaela Marie Bentley.

FT. BLACKMORE: Rhianna Fae Payne.

GATE CITY: April Ann Bull, Natasha Kendra Caldwell, Rachel Nicole Dingus, Stephanie Lynn-Brooke Falin, ,Hannah Grace Fields, Wendy LeeAnn Fields, Tonya M. Gamble, Eric Matthew Hutchinson, Kressa Lynn Johnson, Teresa Mariea Phillips, Lex Alexander Reed, Rachel Evie Reid, Makenzie Brooke Stallard, and Samantha Fae Stallard.

HAYSI: Joseph M. Boyd, Joseph Ethan Church, Felicia Renea Johnson, Alexandria Marin Perrigan, and Cody Heath Woods.

HILTONS: Dylon Eldridge Clark, Erica Paige Gardner, Jacob Charles Hall, and Mckenzie Anne Turner.

JONESVILLE: Kelley J. Aldridge, Ryan Austen Bales, Brenton Owen Cornett, Samantha Hope Cupp, David Christian Currie, Jacob Allen Eldridge, Cecilia Carol Flanary, Logan Evan Fleenor, Robert B. Harber, Rachel Leigh Higgins, Ethan Cole Kilgore, Aren Michelle Lambert, Danielle N. Lawson, Charles James Marcum, Kayla Nicole Moore, Kaitlyn Ruth Robinette, Alicia Louise Stiltner, Mackenzie Alexis Wright, and Tyler Bryan Yeary.

KEOKEE: Madison Cheyann Collins and Joseph Michael Denhardt.

KINGSPORT, TN: Tara Suzanne Adams, Sarah Elaine Hawkins, Calee sierra Hill, Hailey G. Langrel, and Shyanne Tyla Van Heel.

MARION: Rusty A. Hamm.

MCCLURE: Ashley R. Knoskie.

MENDOTA: Alesha Brooke Carrier.

MOUNT CARMEL, TN: Toni Brooke Stamper.

NICKELSVILLE: Corey Dean Blodgett, Jeffrey Blake Gray, Cynthia D Herron, Richard Chase Hughes, Macarthur David Inbody, Peyton Dale Peters, Cory Albert Powers, and William Jacob Smith.

NORA: Amanda Nicole O’Quinn.

NORTH CHESTERFIELD: Linwood Dabbs, Jr. and Douglas P. Towne.

NORTON: Summer Danielle Bower, Cassie Marie Carroll, Mark Anthony Caruso, Alexandra Paige Childers, Shakira Alise Cooney, Harlie Rose Crawford, Laken Marie Culbertson, Jastanie Lydia Darnell, Dwight Arayat Catablan Dixon, Morgan Brooke Fawbush, Michael Brian Gilliam, Joshua Ian Greene, Dajine Brock Hale, Autumn A. Hill, Elora Jade Hutchinson, Alexia Ann Ingle, Beylee Elizabeth Jenkins, Savahanna Faith Kern, Cadence Janise Lagow, Ethan Cole Milam, Maggie L. Moore, Zoe Jane Niece, Shamiyeh Dejshawn Noel, Elizabeth Grace Owens, Olivia Rose Owens, Shealin Acacia Pruitt, Stacy Lynn Robinson, Dasanye Cheyenne Smith, Verona Marie Swindall, Davina Brooke Vanover, Ashlyn Rochelle Wermann, Caleb Jennings Williams, and McKenzie Brooke Williams.

PENNINGTON GAP: Danielle Haven Elizabeth Barnett, Helen Robin Louise Barnett, Andrew Michael Barrier, Christian Shay Beckman, Jacob William Bledsoe, Larissa Jean Crider, Kenley Paige Eisenmenger, Zane Edward Eisenmenger, Kaitlyn Marie Hartsock, Peggie Grace Laws, Emma Katherine Poe, Curtis Lee Reece, Tristan Noah Ruppel, Alexia LeShae Stafford, Dawnna Joy Stebbins, and Austin Tyler Wells.

POQUOSON: Brandon Tyler Kelley.

POUND: Carrie Ann Adams, Andrew J. Baker, Samantha Paige Bevins, Kali Renee Bowman, Keith E. Crabtree, Benjamin Justin Hamilton, Bryanna Sierria Harris, Sadra Lynn Mullins, Alexis Leigh Anne Presley, Ashley Lynn Riley, Elias Carlos Rose, Aaron Chase Salyers, Garrett Dalton Shortt, Julien Chase Sturgill, and Yija Wang.

ROSE HILL: Rylee Elizabeth Cope, Amy Will DiVirgilio, Hunter Jalyn Graham, and Tanna Marie Whitt.

ST. PAUL: Makia Nichole Phillips.

WEBER CITY: Alissa Ilene Belle Cleek.

WISE: David Benjamin Adams, Celeste C. Aguinaga, Brianna Gabrielle Aldridge, Tina Starr Beaver, Madison Elizabeth Chandler, Sandra Denise Collins, Christopher David Conner, Isiah Luke Cox, Tiffany L. Cress, Melissa Jo Culbertson, Sidney A. Flanary, Jr., Aiden Brock Fultz, Victoria Elizabeth Gilliam, Arietta LeRae Harvey, John Glenn Hines III, hrista Renee Holmes, Brent Daniel Jessee, Nicholas Montana Ledford, Braeden Morrison Mullins, Morgan Alexander Mullins, Olivia Grace Mullins, Justin Payne Sexton, Jason M. Stine, Michael Clay Turner, Ryan Seth Vanover, and Bradley S. Williams.

MECC announces summer semester President’s List

The following students have been named to the Mountain Empire Community College President’s List for the summer 2019 semester. Students are eligible for the President’s List if they have at least 12 credits and a GPA of 3.8 or higher during the semester with no incompletes, re-enrolls, unsatisfactory or failing grades.

BIG STONE GAP: Joshua A. France and Leighandra Paige McGuire

CASTLEWOOD: David Allen Layne.

CLINCHCO: Brandi Dawn Baker.

COEBURN: Amanda L Bartley.

DUFFIELD: Michelle Denise Berry, Aaron Blake Carter, and Caitlyn Paige Cox.

DUNGANNON: Donnie Ray Saul.

GATE CITY: Nicholas Patton Elliott.

JONESVILLE: Jacob Russell Adair and Christopher Tyler Oakley.

NORTON: Kayla J. Harvey.

PENNINGTON GAP: Jacob Andrew Gailey and Whitney Alexandra Lane.

POUND: Brenton Noah Graham, Samuel Allen Powers, Jr., Dylan Avery Short, and Jody Lynn Young.

WISE: Powers,Karrie L. Powers, Christian Taylor Rogers, and Austin X. Sexton.

MECC Offers Old Time Music and Dance Classes for Fall Semester 2019

Big Stone Gap, VA — Mountain Empire Community College will offer several music classes for credit and non-credit courses for the Fall 2019 semester.

For students who do not want college credit for the course, but want to learn string instruments, non-credit classes are available for a fee of $150.00 for a three-hour weekly class for sixteen weeks. Students, ages 10 and older, can learn to play Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp, clawhammer banjo, upright bass, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin for less than $3.15 per hour. Classes start on Monday, August 28 and end on Tuesday, December 10.

• Beginning Rhythm Guitar (Beginning), 5-7:45 PM, Cathy Qualls, Main Campus;
• Beginning Lead Guitar (Intermediate), 6-8:45 PM, Cathy Qualls, Main Campus;
• Guitar Theory and Practice I (Intermediate), 2-4:45 PM, Chris Rose, Main Campus;
• Guitar Theory and Practice II (Advanced), 6-8:45 PM, Chris Rose, Main Campus;
• Old Time String Band (Advanced) 6-8:45 PM, Todd Meade, Gate City High School;
• Upright Bass (Beginning), 6-8:45 PM, Todd Meade, Gate City High School;
• Beginning Mandolin (Beginning), 6-8:45 PM, Jeff Dickenson, Main Campus;
• Jazz Chord Guitar (Advanced), 6-8:45 PM, Steve Souther, Main Campus;
• Beginning Appalachian Dulcimer (Beginning), 1-3:45 PM, Mike Gilley, Main Campus;
• Beginning Autoharp (Beginning), 1-3:45 PM, Mike Gilley, Main Campus;
• Beginning Fiddle (Beginning), 1-3:45 PM, Joanna Osteen, Main Campus;
• Old Time Folk Dance (Beginning), 5-6 PM, Tyler Hughes, Center for Workforce Innovation Appalachia;
• Blues Guitar (Advanced), 6-8:45 PM, Chris Rose, Main Campus;
• Upright Bass (Beginning), 6-8:45 PM, Bill Smith, Main Campus;
• Building and Playing an Electric Guitar (Beginning), 2-4:45 PM, Chris Rose, Main Campus;
• Clawhammer Banjo (Beginning), 6-8:45 PM, Tyler Hughes, Main Campus;
• Old Time Sting Band (Intermediate), 6-8:45 PM, Tyler Hughes, Main Campus;

For more information or to register, contact Mike Gilley at 276. 523.7468.

MECC & Slemp Foundation Partner to Help Blackjewel Families

BlackJewel Miner Picture

BIG STONE GAP – Mountain Empire Community College and the Slemp Foundation are partnering to assist families impacted by the Blackjewel mine closures with tuition and college expense assistance. Qualifying families living in Lee and Wise County are encouraged to visit to submit their contact information. An MECC representative will work with individuals to determine qualification and potential available assistance.

MECC has assisted several Blackjewel employees and family members with enrollment and retraining needs. The Slemp Foundation has donated $20,000 to further provide for families impacted by the mining closure to be used to pay for tuition, books, and other college-related needs.

For more information, please contact MECC Dean of Student Services Lelia Bradshaw at 276.523.2400 ext. 288.

MECC and EntreEd partner to bring entrepreneurial training to local K-12 educators.

Mountain Empire Community College and EntreEd4

Big Stone Gap, VA – Mountain Empire Community College and the National Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (EntreEd) recently partnered to deliver a hands-on workshop for local K-12 educators to learn about, experience, and integrate entrepreneurship education into their classrooms this upcoming school year.

A total of 16 educators, ranging from school principals to classroom teachers, joined the team at Mountain Empire Community College’s campus to engage in a day of learning.

The workshop was facilitated by by Amber Ravenscroft, Program Manager of the America’s Entrepreneurial Schools initiative and Manager of Innovation for The EdVenture Group. The training featured sessions on entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurship infusion in the classroom, with hands-on activities for educators to take back to their students.

Teachers participated in creativity challenges, learned strategies to foster entrepreneurial mindsets both within themselves and with their students, and explored best practices in infusing entrepreneurship into core academic subject areas.

Mountain Empire Community College and EntreEd3The workshop concluded with a design thinking workshop, where participants designed entrepreneurship projects for their school or classroom. Schools in attendance will be eligible to receive their America’s Entrepreneurial School designation, which recognizes any K-12 school that provides entrepreneurship education to every student, every year.

“[The training] expanded my ideas of the use of entrepreneurship ideas in the classroom,” said attendee Vicki Snodgrass. Educators walked away with tangible resources and actionable strategies to begin implementing upon the school year’s start this August. “It’s the first time I’ve actually enjoyed a workshop in a very long time,” added attendee Jessica Trent.

Attending the workshop were Robert Underwood, St. Paul Elementary; Lisa Addington-Mason, Wise Primary School; Angela Greear, Central High School; Barbara Hass, Coeburn Primary; Holly Tucker, L.F. Addington Middle School; Jared Coffey, Eastside High School; Kelly Foster, J.W. Adams Combined School; Kara Adkins, Coeburn Middle School; Vicky Welch, Union Middle School; Jodie Bowen, Wise County Career-Technical Center; Kim Mabe, Union High School; Allie Brickey, Union Primary School; Jacqueline Pauley, Flatwoods Elementary School; Vicki Snodgrass, Thomas Walker High School; Jessica Trent, Thomas Walker High School; and Jolene Lambert, Jonesville Middle School.

Mountain Empire Community College and EntreEd1The partnership between Mountain Empire Community College and EntreEd is part of a three-year, Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant which was funded in 2016. Wrapping up in August 2019, the grant has provided entrepreneurship experiences to over 45,000 Appalachian students throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The project is a collaborative partnership between EntreEd, The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), The EdVenture Group, and the National Center for Resource Development and eight local community colleges throughout the region. To learn more about the initiative, visit today. 

MECC To Host 15th Annual Mountain Music School

Big Stone Gap, VA – MECC will welcome more than 130 students to the 15th Annual Mountain Music School on campus July 22-26.

MECC’s Mountain Music School is a week-long event dedicated to the preservation and continuation of Appalachian music and culture. Students from age 10 and up learn to play an instrument of their choice, including beginning and advanced options in “old-time” fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, autoharp, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, shape note singing, and dog house bass. In addition, a string-band class for intermediate/advanced musicians is offered for students who want to expand their skills in a group setting. A limited number of instruments are available to loan during the week.

The public is invited to join the class each day for a free concert from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Goodloe Center. The concert schedule is as follows:

· Monday, July 22 – Mountain Music School Faculty

· Tuesday, July 23 – Bill and the Belles

· Wednesday, July 24 – Whitetop Mountain Band

· Thursday, July 25 – Jim Lloyd

· Friday, July 26 – Mountain Music School Students

For more information about MECC’s Mountain Music School visit the Mountain Music School website at or call 276.523.2400 ext. 304.