College plans annual Student Success symposium

Published 1:46 am Saturday, March 9, 2019

By Wendy Harrison


The Paul D. Camp Community College Students Transitioning through Education Program Successfully team is gearing up for its fourth annual Student Success Symposium. This year’s event, themed “Creating a Culture of Caring, Collaboration and Completion, Addressing Students’ Basic Needs Insecurity,” will be held in the college’s Regional Workforce Development Center on Tuesday, March 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

According to research released from the Wisconsin HOPE Lab in April 2018, titled, “Still Hungry and Homeless in College,” it is estimated that 42 percent of community college students experienced food insecurity in the 30 days preceding the survey; 46 percent reported being housing insecure within the last year of the survey; and 12 percent reported being homeless during the last year of the survey. Although the numbers have decreased from a larger study conducted in 2017, these are critical issues that students face — issues that have drawn the attention of Virginia’s Community Colleges as well.

In addition, another report released recently from the United States Government Accountability Office, stated analysis of data from the Department of Education showed that 2 million at-risk students who were potentially eligible for SNAP did not report receiving benefits in 2016. It was recommended by GAO that the Food and Nutrition Service improve student eligibility information on its website and share information on state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program agencies’ approaches to helping eligible students.

“Addressing basic student needs is a college-wide effort,” said STEPS College Success Coach Dr. Sandra Walker. “The STEPS team has presented professional development on the topic for faculty and staff, and engaged the community in an effort to develop a shared language, understanding and commitment around how basic needs insecurity may impact individuals who frequent those agencies or establishments.”

According to PDCCC Vice President for Academic and Student Development Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady, the event provides opportunities for faculty and staff professional development, as well as student growth.

“The focus is on relevant issues that our students face that may prevent them from reaching their education and employment goals,” she said. We are always striving to help our students in any way possible.”

The PDCCC STEPS program is part of the Virginia Community College System Chancellor’s College Success Coach Initiative and helps underserved students with their personal, academic and career goals. The program has made great strides and earned recognition since its launch at PDCCC in 2012. As research continued to surface regarding student food and home insecurities, a foodbank committee was implemented in 2017 by PDCCC President Dr. Dan Lufkin.

“At PDCCC, we are focused on the overall well-being of our students,” said Lufkin. “We should always keep our students in the forefront and evaluate their issues so that we can respond in a supportive way that helps them stay on track. That is why it is significant that we formed the Foodbank Committee and developed the partnership with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.”

According to Walker, among those invited to register are college, university, high school and homeschooled students; staff, faculty, adjuncts and administrators; community organization members; human service providers; researchers, elected officials and policy makers.

The Student Success Symposium is free, however, registration is required. Participants are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the college’s foodbank or toiletry item for the Genieve Shelter to help support community service projects. For more details, email Success Coaches Dr. Sandra Walker, or Karen Owens, To register, log onto

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