Student success program at PDCCC wins first place at statewide conference

Published 9:45 am Monday, April 24, 2017

byWendy Harrison

Paul D. Camp Community College’s Students Transitioning through Education Programs Successfully team was awarded a $5,000 first place prize during the Virginia Community College System’s New Horizons Conference 2017 held in Roanoke recently.

All 23 community colleges in the VCCS competed for the Excellence in Education Award based on the theme of “best practices in student success.” The PDCCC team was honored for their project titled, “STEPS: A Research-Based, Evidence-Driven Model for Effectively Serving Underserved Students.”

The team leading this effort is comprised of College Success Coaches Dr. Sandra Walker and Laura Clark, and Program Specialist Jamie Dodd with the support of Vice President for Academic and Student Development Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady, and Co-Program Directors Dr. Alan Harris and Trina Jones.

“I would like to express my deep appreciation for their tireless work,” said PDCCC President Dr. Dan Lufkin. “I am also grateful for our faculty, staff and administrators who have supported the success of this award-winning program through their referrals. This is truly an accomplishment of which we can all be proud.”

The program was developed in 2012 in response to the VCCS Chancellor’s College Success Coach Initiative.

“The purpose of this initiative is to increase the number of underserved students who graduate, transfer or earn non-credit credentials,” said Clark. “Researchers attribute low retention rates among underserved students to lack of academic preparedness, limited financial resources, family obligations, and/or social incongruence.”

Among the program data, results have revealed that 70 percent of students maintained a 2.0 grade point average or higher; 134 degrees, diplomas, certificates or other credentials have been earned and more than $235,000 in scholarships have been awarded.

“In addition, three-year average retention rates for fall to spring and fall to fall consistently exceed the VCCS and PDCCC by 7 to 18 percent,” explained Walker.

According to the team, non-academic support was found to be just as important as academic support to first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students. At the point of entry into STEPS, students must have earned 14 or less credits. The STEPS team was able to take advantage of the college’s small size and make more personal outreach efforts to targeted students.

For more information about the STEPS program at PDCCC, contact Clark in Franklin, 569-6780,, or Walker in Suffolk, 925-6326,

WENDY HARRISON is the public relations specialist at PDCCC. Email her- at