Charlottesville, Va. – Since age seven, Shipman resident Rachael Shepard has dreamed of being a teacher. This fall, armed with a degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College, Shepard is well on her way toward achieving that dream as she enrolls as a student at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. She was awarded an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts, with honors, from PVCC in May.
Shepard’s experience at PVCC has been an essential step on her path toward becoming a teacher. “When I first came to PVCC, I wasn’t the most enthusiastic student. I had done really well at Nelson County High School, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go,” she said. Since age 15, she had held a job at Wintergreen Resort and understood the value of money. “I knew I couldn’t go to a four-year institution.”
Shepard received assistance from a PVCC Career Coach at NCHS, who showed her how to enroll and apply for scholarships at PVCC. During her first semester, Shepard worked full-time and balanced work with classes. Later she worked multiple part-time jobs, including as a PVCC Student Ambassador and Structured Learning Assistant, which gave her the opportunity to practice her teaching skills. “That experience helped me feel a lot more confident,” she said.
What most helped Shepard stay focused on her career goals, however, was the scholarship she received from the PVCC Educational Foundation. Sponsored by a Nelson County resident, the scholarship helped pay for tuition and books. “It’s been hard working and going to college at the same time,” Shepard said. “I couldn’t have done it without the scholarship.” Due to her hard work, Shepard was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and served as vice president of service for PVCC’s chapter.
“We are so proud of Rachael,” said Dr. Jim Ross, PVCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and Development. “She is a credit not only to Nelson County, but to all of Central Virginia. She is poised for success and will make a giant difference in the world.”
“I can’t wait to give back to PVCC,” Shepard said. “I hope to someday be able to do for someone else what [the scholarship donor] has done for me.” After she graduates from U.Va., she plans to fulfill her dream of becoming a math teacher at NCHS.