I think Virginia Peninsula is a great place to come to find out who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what you want to do.
Virginia Peninsula Community College student Rebecca Holmes spent summer 2017 at the University of Colorado studying tectonics in the high plains of Boulder, Colo. The experience was part of a one-month internship called Research Experience for Community College Students (RECCS). The program lets students explore environmental or geosciences and gain the confidence to transition to a four-year program in the Science, Technology, Engineering Math (STEM) disciplines.
Guided by a graduate student who is working on a Master's thesis, Holmes received a weekly stipend to conduct field- or lab-based independent research over a nine weeks. She learned a computer program to create a map of the region and perform field work using various tools to sample and understand the region's topography. The opportunity came about through a webcast about internships for community college students recommended by Virginia Peninsula Geology Instructor Lynsey LeMay. Holmes followed up with a RECCS coordinator and secured the summer position.
The Social Science major is on track to complete her Virginia Peninsula studies and receive an Associate of Science degree this spring. A Phi Theta Kappa honor society member in Virginia Peninsula's Phi Sigma chapter, Holmes was accepted to University of Colorado, but is awaiting responses from Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and William & Mary before deciding where to continue her education. She also has attending graduate school in her five-year plan.
A 2015 Woodside High graduate and Newport News resident, Holmes enrolled at Virginia Peninsula in January 2016 having attended James Madison University (JMU). "JMU was not exactly a good fit for me because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet.
I decided to come home and attend Virginia Peninsula because I wanted to try to take a variety of classes to see what I really wanted to do," Holmes said.
"I figured out exactly what I wanted to do and where I need to be here at Virginia Peninsula. When I came into college, I had no idea that I wanted to pursue geology. I think Virginia Peninsula is a great place to come to find out who you are, what you're passionate about, and what you want to do," she added.
Geology caught Holmes' attention when her academic advisor, Melissa Gray, suggested she take one of LeMay's classes. The experience ignited a growing flame. "Coming to Virginia Peninsula ultimately was the best thing for me. At this point it has become a passion pursuing what I really love. Hopefully, I will be making a difference in the scientific community one day," said Holmes.
She is grateful to LeMay and Gray for their contributions to her college education. [Lynsey LeMay] has gone above and beyond to make sure that I have the knowledge and the preparation to be able to go out and do an internship. She has done a great job of giving me an understanding and a perspective of what's it's like to be a geologist," she said.
"My advisor Melissa Gray has had my back the entire time I have been at this college. She has always been there any time I needed help, any time I needed advice ... She has been absolutely amazing in every way," Holmes added.