The Shop Kicks off Black History Month Celebration

Virginia Peninsula Community College’s recognition of Black History Month got underway Feb. 1 with a presentation/discussion sponsored by a new initiative called The Shop.

The vision of The Shop, which is part of Student Life at the College, “is to be the premiere support and developmental resource for minority men at Virginia Peninsula Community College.”

When VPCC President Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon saw how many African-American men at the College discontinued their studies in the past year, she was dismayed. She didn’t place the blame entirely on them.

“They didn’t do it. We let them do it,” she said to the two dozen students who attended the  50-minute event in the Gators Cafe.

That attrition is something she wants to correct. As someone who grew up with few male African-American role models, she knows the vital role they can play. The majority of the African-American males she grew up with are either dead or incarcerated.

“The success of men of color is something that’s been important to me since I was a little girl,” Brannon said. “I want you to be successful.”

Antonio Dill-Word is the Presidential Fellow of the College’s Minority Male Initiative, and an alum of the College. He was named program manager for The Shop after his proposal impressed Brannon and others. Its main principles are scholarship, brotherhood, and service. While the main targets are minority men, everyone is welcome.

He declared the first event a success.

“We were excited about the turnout and so happy to see so many students who want to be engaged at the College,” he said. “We believe that with the pool of students we were able to reach, we will have no problem building and bridging the minority male community here.”

Chief Lloyd Carter, an associate professor in the College’s fire science program, is on the advisory board. He took the time to speak to everyone who attended the event, asking their name and area of study. He stressed what a wonderful opportunity they have.

“She’s investing in us,” he said of Brannon. “It’s a blessing.”

The Shop has more events scheduled, including a gaming tournament (Feb. 18), a fitness lock-in (March 18), and a grill-off with a number of local fire departments (April 15).

There also are year-round activities. The Shop is sponsoring a daily study hall in Hastings Room 421 from 2-5 p.m. It will be a place to do classwork, to network or to relax.

Tutor Tuesdays offer skills sessions every other week. They will include how to build a business, basic car maintenance, and CPR training.

The program adviser is Dr. Valerie Burge-Hall. Others on the advisory board are Kadisia Archer, Chris Moore, Damond Pope, and Christopher Wallace. 

For more information on The Shop, go to

To see other Black History Month events at the College, go to