Jeffrey Byrd – Graduate Highlight


Jeffrey Byrd is a recent graduate from the Network Administration/Security Associate Degree program at West Virginia Junior College Charleston. Jeffrey decided to explore his options at WVJC due to the short length of the program, friendliness of the staff and faculty, hands-on training, and convenience of the location. Jeffrey conducted a lot of research on the job market before selecting a program.  He chose Network Administration/Security due to the growing demand for information technology professionals.

Jeffrey had nearly perfect attendance and maintained a 4.0 GPA during his time at WVJC. His dedication to his education allowed him the opportunity to be a Federal Work Study. He was a huge asset to students, staff, and faculty and was always available to assist with technology needs. This position allowed him the opportunity to apply IT skills outside of the classroom.

Before attending WVJC, Jeffrey attended traditional colleges. Jeffrey remembers taking classes that did not pertain to his major. He described his experience at the prior colleges as less personable and he felt more like a number than a person. Jeff said, “At WVJC the faculty and staff really care about my success.” Toward the end of the Network Administration/Security program, Jeffrey completed his externship at a large communications provider, Citynet. He said, “My externship provided me valuable real-world experience with people who wanted to help me learn”. When asked if Jeffrey would refer a friend to WVJC, he said, “Absolutely, I loved my experience at WVJC and the opportunity to be a Federal Work Study.”

We are excited to see all that Jeffrey accomplishes in the IT field! If you would like to know more about the Network Administration/Security program or another program at WVJC, please visit www.wvjc.edu for more information and apply today!

Olivia Williamson – Graduate Highlight

Olivia Williamson is a West Virginia Junior College Pharmacy Technician graduate.   Her choice to become a student at WVJC was easy because of the class size and family atmosphere. When making her decision to enroll in school she knew “it would be a challenge” because she is a wife and mother of two small children.  However, she was determined to further her education to better her life.

Once Olivia officially decided on WVJC, she began to take an interest in her general education courses.  These courses brought her out of her shell as she enjoyed being creative and giving presentations on a wide variety of topics. “Mr. Cutright inspired me to think outside of the box and push the limits of my comfort zone.” Olivia has always been a quiet person, but she now feels more confident working with others.

As Olivia approached graduation, she completed a 160-hour externship at Mountaineer Medical Pharmacy. She said, “I enjoyed every moment of this hands-on experience.”  Olivia was given the opportunity to work alongside the pharmacist and observe in every aspect of that career. The pharmacist enjoyed having her there and watching her grow in her field of study.

As Olivia progressed through her education and externship, she knew that she was done working “dead end jobs.” “I am thankful that WVJC provided me with the opportunity to, not only complete my degree, but also, allow me to see that I have chosen the right career path.”

Olivia credits her mother for her decision to enroll at WVJC and is thankful every day that she has a career that will help her provide for her family. Olivia is looking forward to her new career in a local pharmacy!

To learn more about WVJC’s pharmacy technician program, request information here!

Todd Hughes – Student Highlight

Todd Hughes is currently studying Healthcare Administration at WVJC Online. He always knew that he wanted to get into the healthcare field and his interest became more prominent when he took an EMT course in 2014. He knew that when the time was right for him to further his education, the healthcare field was the direction he wanted to go.

Prior to attending West Virginia Junior College, Todd was working as a manager at Walmart. He had been with Walmart for eight years, and in a managerial role for four of them. He developed an interest for leadership and wanted to develop a skillset in medical office management training in order to reach his future goals.

His wife, Jamie, was attending WVJC Online for Medical Office Administration. He was familiar with the course structure and scheduling, and how it would work for him and his family. After, his wife graduated from our program, Todd began his journey.

His favorite part of attending WVJC is the ability to learn new things. He gets excited to learn, and loves how he has new courses every six weeks. This allows him to constantly develop new skills and knowledge. He really enjoys that aspect.

Todd had a hard time narrowing down his favorite teacher to one because, “I like everyone”; but he did go on to say that, so far, the most impactful instructor has been, Dustin Blankenship. Mr. Blankenship has been an instructor in several of Todd’s classes, but was also his instructor in his favorite class (so far), Management.

Todd’s end goal is to pursue a career as a nursing supervisor. In the next five years, Todd can see himself applying the knowledge he obtained from the Healthcare Administration courses and continuing his education in a nursing program to land him the position he seeks at PMC Specialty Clinic.

One of the best parts about attending WVJC is the relationships Todd has built with other students. He would definitely refer a friend to WVJC and has already spoken to several. He believes that giving those personal testimonies can help others change their lives!

Samantha Lucky – Student Highlight

Samantha Lucky is a recent graduate from the West Virginia Junior College’s Practical Nursing program.  Becoming a nurse was always a dream of hers since she was little.  However, in order to make her dream come true, she had to find a school that was the right fit for her.

She began her research knowing she wanted a smaller school so she could gain one on one attention.  Samantha feels that in larger schools “you are just a number and not a student.”  During her research she discovered that, in 2018, WVJC had a 100% pass rate for the NCLEX exam. Samantha said to herself, “ I need to give them a call.”  After the process of enrollment and a tour of the facility, she felt at home and was ready to begin her journey.

Samantha wants to share a part of her nursing journey with you!

Samantha writes, “In my fourth semester at WVJC I got the opportunity to complete 42 hours of an externship alongside a Hospice Nurse.  I knew that this particular field would be extremely difficult, especially separating home and work life.  However, I knew if I wanted to be the best nurse I can be, I needed to face my weaknesses and grow from the experiences. My first day was rough, I helped the nurse with a “death call.” This changed my perspective on life from that day forward. Every day, for a couple of weeks, I struggled to go there to complete my hours. However, after some time and seeing the compassion that goes into the field, I began to adapt to the struggles and fell in love with the hospice side of nursing. This brought so much compassion and understanding to a different part of my life. In school I learned the importance of patient advocacy, and I am proud to say, I got to experience and assist in this every day, while working in the hospice side of nursing.  During this time, I personally got the joy of hearing so many nurses say to their patients, ‘I am just a phone call away.’  Seeing this compassion everyday was a constant reminder of why I made the choice to become a nurse.”

Not only has Samantha graduated from the WVJC Practical Nursing program and passed her NCLEX exam, she also proudly accepted a position at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Samantha looks forward to this journey and all the new experiences that come with it. There is no doubt in her mind that she picked the right school and career path.

Money Management 101

Budgeting and saving money is a critical tool in your everyday life.  It is important to be aware of how much income you have after paying for necessities. Proper money management provides peace of mind and allows you to plan for expected and unexpected expenses. West Virginia Junior College Charleston would like to offer some tips on managing your finances. Below are some useful tips to help you stay on track.

  1. Utilize money apps or your bank app to keep your expenses at your fingertips.
  2. Ask about using your student ID to get you a discount at stores and restaurants.
  3. If you can use a credit card responsibly, pay attention to interest rates and look for credit cards that give you cash back.
  4. Create an emergency fund for those inevitable moments in life where you need extra cash.
  5. Use coupons and reward points for stores and restaurants. It may not sound glamorous, but coupons add up.
  6. Meal plan each week instead of overspending at the grocery store and eating out.
  7. Reevaluate your daily habits. Do you purchase specialty coffee drinks? Do you purchase cigarettes? All of those unnecessary purchases add up quickly!
  8. Look for free events around your town for entertainment.
  9. Live beneath your means. Even if you can afford some luxuries, you would be even better off saving the money instead.
  10. Educate yourself on common financial terms such as APR, annual fee, transaction, ledger, capital, interests, balance, lien, expenses, liabilities, FICO, etc.
  11. Be cautious signing up for services and contracts.
  12. Before lending money or co-signing for vehicles, consider how you will pay for them.
  13. Consider carpooling to save on gas or take public transportation.
  14. You might have cash in your closet! Selling unwanted or forgotten items may be a quick way to help build up a cushion for emergencies or purchase needed items.

Now that you have some tools to help you manage your finances and stay on track, you are ready to invest in your future! At WVJC, you can earn your associate degree and be career ready in months! Visit www.wvjc.edu to learn more about our fast track programs or request information HERE!

Kali Moats – Student Highlight

Life often presents twists and turns on our path to a career. With every decision, our path is bumped slightly in a new direction. Kali Moats’s, CMA student at WVJC Morgantown and Student Government Association member, path to WVJC fits this mold. Kali attended a college prior to attending WVJC.  She felt she was “just a number” in that environment and ultimately did not continue.

The decision to leave school lead her down a path that landed her where she is today. It was not always an easy one. Before attending WVJC, Kali found herself working at a state park and helping to take care of her father. While working at that state park, a coworker told her about WVJC. She decided to check it out. “I liked (that) they offered a smaller room setting, and the atmosphere was welcoming.”

Kali chose the Clinical Medical Assistant program. She wanted to further her career in the medical field, and felt that this was the best way to do it. As a student, she loves her classes, but says her favorite part is the faculty and staff. “If I need help with anything from homework to just having a bad day, they are there and ready to help or be an ear and shoulder to lean on.”

When asked who her favorite instructor was, Kali had a hard time narrowing it down.  “I cannot pick just one.”  While she has enjoyed all of her instructors, there were two that stood out to her.  “Jessica Musgrove and Dustin Blankenship are ready to help (at any time). They make class fun to be in, (and are) a joy to around.”

Kali said that her ideal job would be to work as a civilian with the US Army as a CMA or a phlebotomist. Her goals in the long term are to move to Virginia, become a parent, and “come (back) to visit the staff and faculty to show them how I am doing.  They are like my family.”

If this experience sounds like something that you would like to see for yourself, head to wvjc.edu and take a look at our Clinical Medical Assistant program, or any of our offered programs.  You can also call the campus directly at 304-296-8282 or request info HERE.

Short Term Degree Benefits

In today’s economy nearly all jobs require some form of a credential beyond high school. However, many small businesses find it difficult to find qualified job applicants to fill job openings, particularly those entry to middle skill level jobs that require specific technical skills. These skills are often able to be acquired through a short-term degree program designed in partnership with business and industry standards and expectations. Accordingly, the demand for entry to middle level skills is strong. In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 53 percent of the US labor market was entry level skill jobs, yet only 43 percent of the country’s workers possessed the necessary skills.

Thus, short-term degrees and industry-based certifications are increasingly important for individuals who want to advance in the workplace and achieve greater economic mobility. The attainment of a credential demonstrates the mastery of the knowledge, skills, and abilities desired by employers, putting learners on a path towards gainful employment. One recent study shows that certification holders earn 30 percent more than individuals with a high school diploma alone and the wage premium for short-term degree programs is often comparable or higher than bachelor’s degrees in certain fields.

Since the early 2000s, community colleges have been stacking certificates to create career pathways. The short-term degrees embedded into career pathways make up 24 percent of all postsecondary awards in the US today. In the 2014-15 academic year, more than 600,000 short-term degrees were conferred—a 63 percent increase from the 370,000 degrees granted during the 2004-05 academic year. Short-term degrees along with certifications have become so popular that they are now the second most common higher education credential in the United States, signaling that students and employers are recognizing the value of this educational route at an increasing rate.

Nonetheless, short-term degrees only have value if they are a) designed to respond to local labor market needs, and b) designed to ensure long-term success through continuing learning opportunities. When these programs are developed utilizing labor market data and employer engagement in the design, it leaves students with a credential that has high meaning in the local economy. Therefore, short-term degree programs must be thoughtfully designed if they are to improve a student’s employment opportunities.

Labor markets are not static. Rapidly changing technologies and skills are compelling workers to return to school and upgrade their skills just to retain their current jobs. Colleges that offer short-term degrees are able to move and adapt to those changes rapidly in order to meet the needs of the local employers. Providing the local economy a highly trained workforce that is able to fill the needs of changing industries is a key benefit to short-term degrees. Students are looking for ways to improve their economic status in the fastest way possible with as little debt as possible. Short-term degrees are filling that need for the new age of student demographics.

Rachael Salvucci – Faculty Highlight

Hi everyone!  My name is Rachael Salvucci and I’ve been teaching at WVJC since 2013!  I graduated from Penn State University with a degree in English education in 2005, and then went on to receive my Masters of Education from The University of Pittsburgh in curriculum and instruction and earned my administration certificate in 2011. Teaching is my passion. I’ve been a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania for the past 14 years, and last year I was lucky to get some administration experience. I’m not sure if I’ll ever leave the classroom though – I love my students, both high school and junior college – and look forward to planning engaging lessons and building relationships with them.

I currently teach English Composition 101 and Research and Writing at WVJC Online. I absolutely love the online environment and feel that is where I excel the most. I’ve never had a class that I didn’t love, and my students so far in the past 6 years have been the best. I was introduced to WVJC through Brittany Nuzzo, and I fell in love with online teaching with my first class. Since I work full time as a public school teacher, it’s nice to come home after a long day and teach again – but on my couch and in my pajamas. I also love working remotely because I love to travel, and have been able to hold class in Italy, France, England, and many more countries and places in the US. My favorite part of working at WVJC is most definitely the people. Everyone I’ve met and worked with at WVJC has been amazing, helpful, and enthusiastic, so I can’t imagine a better place to work (part time for now).

I am mainly motivated by my 4 year old twin boys, AJ and Nino. I want to provide them with a great life, but I also want to be the best for them. I want them to see that it’s possible to find an enjoyable and satisfying career without compromising their values. I want to be a strong role model for them while also teaching them to be good people, and the way that I treat the people I work with will hopefully portray that.

I am most proud of my boys. They surprise me each and every day and I can’t believe that they are mine. They are amazing humans and most days outsmart me.

For the longest time I wanted to be an administrator, but the more chances I had to experience that career, the more I saw that I would miss teaching.  However, while I love being a high school English teacher, I would love to be full time in higher education, specifically a remote campus. My dream would be to do something I love while traveling the world.

Something interesting people might not know about me is that I love true crime. I listen to true crime podcasts on the way to and from work (and then am scared to get out of the car to walk into the building since I get to work by 6 am). Any time I can incorporate some true crime into my high school curriculum I do. What better way to get sophomores interested in literature than by reading/listening to/researching murders?  Some of my favorite podcasts are Up and Vanished, Lore, Bear Brook, Serial, and My Favorite Murder. Check them out and let’s chat! 🙂

To learn more about WVJC Online and our wonderful teachers like Rachael, request information here!

Six Simple Steps to Budgeting

One thing we know for certain in this life is that you can say one word to just about any person (over the age of 16) and produce 1 of 3 reactions.  Like side-effects in a pharmaceutical commercial, one of them tends to happen….

  1. In some cases, slight nausea has been reported.
  2. In others, complete apathy- The use of this word causes a “Homer Simpson” reaction whereby you exist within the bounds of what is happening, but really, you are just staring blindly into an abyss.
  3. Rare cases of running in terror have been reported. (In your mind, of course, as you are reading this on a website.)

You have to be curious as to what word in the English language could cause such a reaction. The word is not all that impressive, but its implication is vast. The word is important, but not for the reasons that you think.  The word is….budget.  Yep, we said it.  Budget.  The single most boring word in the world, or scary, or whatever negative adjective you want to throw at it.  It is all of them.  We feel this way because we like instant gratification…we like feeling comfortable…we like not thinking about hard things. Many prefer a root canal over thinking about a budget.

However, we also build budgeting up into this life-altering function that sucks up our time and energy, when it is really a simple task intended to make our future-selves thank our past-selves. So, the question is, how do you make your future-self thank you without draining more time and resources from your present-self? With some pre-work, and thanks to the hundreds of apps on the marketplace today, budgeting is not the scary task that we make it out to be.  Below you will find a couple of simple steps that will help get you started.

Step 1:  Take a look at what you bring home, and what you have to pay.

This is the scary part for many. It can be intimidating to look at how/where we spend our money. However, in order to have a starting point, this has to be done. The key is not to make it harder than it has to be. Start with the income that you have, after taxes, for a one month period. Then gather up ALL of your bills and start calculating. This is designed to be a guide so do not dive too deep here. According to studentaid.gov, you should overestimate your expenses and underestimate your income.

Step 2: Determining needs and wants

The purpose of this is to look ahead. Sure, that beach trip you want to take sounds fun but is it feasible?  If it really is, you can create a monthly saving plan to get you there.  On the other side of that coin, we need our utilities and healthcare maintenance items. Healthcare maintenance items could still require planning, but are definitely a need. This step can also begin to determine if some of your expenses are as important to you as you thought they were. Sure, you wanted to see the final season of “Game of Thrones,” but do you still need the monthly expense of the premium app/channel on your television?

Step 3:  Create your monthly budget

Believe it or not, you are almost done!  You are aware of your income and expenses, you have determined what the must haves are, and what you would like to have. Now put all of that together into a monthly plan that you are comfortable with following.

Step 4:  Get an App to help you keep track

All you need is your cell phone! Some apps are better than others, but they all have the ability to give you some idea of where your money is going. Find common ones in the app store, and seek out the ratings and reviews. Try a couple on your own and see what works for you!

Step 5:  Live it out for a couple of months

Up until now, this is all pencil and paper, and an app…simple ideas. Take a month or two and put those ideas to practice to make sure that what you expected to happen is ACTUALLY happening.  Revisit the budget to see if it is holding up to the expectations. Most importantly, don’t be surprised if it didn’t quite work out as you thought. Adjust it with any changes in income and expenses, re-evaluating needs and wants along the way. Also, look to see if you saved any money through your plan. Did skipping the fancy coffee on Tuesday translate into more money…or did it get spent on something else? These little items can make a big difference!

Step 6:  Now that you have this short-term stuff down, take a crack at a longer term goal.

Once your budget has become a habit, and you are committed to it, you may be surprised to find spare change laying around. This is the moment that you can begin looking at your wants list and create a goal for yourself.  Still regretting not taking the trip to the beach?  How long would you have to save up the extra money you have saved via your budget?  Want to build up a savings account?  Build a long-term plan that makes sense in your budget, and stick to it. Pay yourself like any other bill. Who knows, you may surprise yourself.

If you have made it this far, we hope that you have learned something. Even if it is just that those side effects are a little easier to avoid than you thought!

For more information on building a better future for yourself, check out WVJC’s career-focused programs, by clicking here!

Marlena Salmon – Student Highlight

Marlena Salmons is a full-time student, full-time mom, and full-time supporter. Marlena is earning her Associate Degree in Medical Office Administration at West Virginia Junior College Charleston. In addition to earning her degree, she is Federal Work Study and assists students with textbook and library needs. Outside of school, she is a mother to three children and is happily married. Although she has a lot of her plate, like many other students, Marlena always has a positive attitude and is excited to learn.

When asked why she chose the Medical Office Administration program at WVJC, Marlena stated, “I want to assist people with bettering themselves. To be a light in someone’s dark”. Marlena has always been inspired to reach out to those needing assistance. She grew up in an area where drugs and alcohol are on the rise. She said help is not always readily available and she wants to encourage change by offering support. With such focused compassion, it is no wonder Marlena’s dream job would be working in a medical office.

The Medical Office Administration program offers a wide variety of courses to prepare future graduates for the skills they need for a career in a medical office setting. Marlena is enjoying her classes at WVJC and said she would like to recognize Mr. Batman because, “he is always there to give a little push when needed.” Marlena would also like to thank Mrs. Mitchell for “helping me through one of my worst fears, public speaking.” Marlena’s favorite part about attending WVJC is the friendly staff and faculty. She said she also enjoys the fast track program and expressed her excitement for nearing graduation.

Marlena would like to share advice with others that are considering making a change, “Do it. There is no mountain too high to climb. The love and support you get from the staff and other students is wonderful.” Marlena also stresses that besides the academic support in the classroom, there is also a sense of community within the school itself. Marlena finished by saying, “There is no other place I’d rather be, the amount of love and support you receive at WVJC is beyond words. Life is full of ups and downs and having a good support system is all you need; the best support is here at WVJC.”

If you would like to know more about our Medical Office Administration program or another program at WVJC, please visit wvjc.edu for more information and apply today!