Local college/university staff receive national award

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Pictured from left: Alison Weston, New River Community College; Dr. James Pennix, formerly Ferrum College; Rebekah LaPlante, Radford University. Photo was taken at the conference in November 2019.
Alison Weston, New River Community College enrollment management and transfer services coordinator, along with James Pennix (The National Research Center for College & University Admissions, Inc., formerly with Ferrum College) and Rebekah LaPlante (Radford University) have been selected as national winners of the 2020 Rising Star Award presented by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The Rising Star Award honors individuals and programs that exemplify excellence and dedication to serving the needs of students in the transition from high school to college.

The trio was recognized virtually as the Rising Star Award winners in May 2020 by the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC), a Virginia branch of NACAC. This regional win placed them in the running for the national award. Weston, Pennix and LaPlante’s project was the creation and implementation of a conference called Rural/Small Town Special Interest Group (SIG) Conference & College Fair. The conference’s goal was to provide an access point to high school counselors and career coaching staff in rural Southwest Virginia to connect with resources to better serve their students and broaden their horizons of the opportunities that colleges can provide. The conference was held in November 2019 and brought together representatives from more than 20 colleges and universities across Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and Tennessee, and 30 high schools in rural Virginia.