LEWISBURG (WVDN) – New River Community and Technical College President Dr. Bonny Copenhaver recently presented an annual report to the Lewisburg City Council and outlined some new programs that the college is proud to offer.
During her presentation to the Lewisburg City Council on Feb. 21, Copenhaver explained the top three programs, those of highest interest for students, are general studies (commonly serving as a pathway to a four-year institution), cosmetology and the LPN-to-ADN bridge for nursing. The LPN program has been part of the New River course catalog, and now the students can continue in the program to become registered nurses. An additional program will be offered starting this fall for paramedic-to-nursing certification courses.
Upcoming in 2024, after FAA approval is obtained, there will be an aviation engineer certificate program offered at Raleigh County Memorial Airport, she said. The college is putting together the program, arranging for an instructor and buying a hangar at the airport which will serve the programs at all five New River campuses: Princeton, Nicholas/Summersville, Greenbrier/Lewisburg, Raleigh/Beckley and Ghent.
Copenhaver also shared that the school has secured a grant through the West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network to provide peer counseling at the campus for opioid addiction.
“We received a grant to secure a peer recovery coach trained to work with recovering addicts, current addicts and family members of addicts. This program operates over a Zoom meeting space and is open to the general public as well as students and employees of NRCTC,” said Copenhaver.
The coach from this past year has left the program, and a new coach is being sought, but the program is secure, having the money through the grant to pay for it.
“Our student body is a reflection of the community,” said Copenhaver, noting many students are juggling addiction, single parent households, caregiving for elderly responsibilities, alcohol abuse and addiction within their families.
She also recognized how financial hardship can really impact students’ studies. “A shortage of $250 to pay for car repair or utility bills can push a student out of their education path and put their future plans at risk,” she said.
Copenhaver said that many of New River’s students, the majority of whom are female, are juggling many responsibilities, acknowledging that if there is an overwhelming situation, they may decide to abort their schooling plans to support their home responsibilities.
For this reason, there is increased effort to support student needs and help them with advice and programs. The school has given students the ability to postpone classes or even to do a yearly registration instead of semester by semester, so they can arrange reliable day care coverage at home.
New River is also now offering fentanyl test strips to be used by students who have been given or have purchased marijuana or vaping materials, to test them first before ingesting. The testing strips can alert whether the marijuana or vape is contaminated by the deadly drug.
The state of West Virginia decriminalized these strips, which had previously been labeled as illegal paraphernalia. Now, the test strips will help prevent overdosing. Students can now access the strips, with relative anonymity, in the bathrooms.
Copenhaver says she is fully engaged in representing NRCTC and its goals and programs to “anyone at anytime.”
She speaks to city councils, Rotary associations, community groups and serves on chamber of commerce boards. She is behind the growth of the school as it addresses the needs of today’s students.
“There was a downturn in enrollment at the start of COVID, but we have rebuilt the numbers of students to over a thousand for the upcoming fall semester so far,” she said.
Locally, the Lewisburg campus used to be the second most populous, but now has become the largest campus of the multicampus institution.
One reason for this is the dual enrollment program for high school students, which had 52 students enrolled last fall and 75 for this upcoming spring semester. These college level courses, taken by high school students, while still in their high school or homeschool program of study, can often be transferred credits to another college or university and provide a head start in their studies for a two- or four-year degree.