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Monica McMillan


From Lawrenceville, Virginia, and a Brunswick High School graduate, Monica McMillan earned her
Associate of Arts and Sciences in General Studies/Human Services from Southside Virginia Community College.

After graduation, Monica worked at SVCC as a Veterans and Adult Career Coach. Today, she continues to be employed at SVCC as a Youth Case Manager for Brunswick, Mecklenburg, and Nottoway under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Monica is also pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University.

Monica is a veteran of the United States Army Reserves, having served ten years as a Food Service Specialist and Medical Specialist. She has two sons, a third grader and a college sophomore, and is a Team Mom with the Brunswick Youth Football League.

Of her time as a student at SVCC, Monica says, “SVCC is a great community college to attend. The professors and administration were very helpful with the transition for the non-traditional student. It was great to have such a motivating, encouraging, and inspiring faculty and staff that push you along the way. If Dr. John Hicks did not push me to come back, I wouldn’t be here today. He told me it’s never too late. The college is also a veteran-friendly community.”

Peggy Hart-Vernon


From Clarksville, Virginia, and a Bluestone Senior High School graduate, Peggy Hart-Vernon earned Nurse Aide and Practical Nursing (LPN) certificates and her Associate of Applied Science in Registered Nursing (RN) from Southside Virginia Community College.

Since graduating from SVCC, Peggy has completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Chamberlain School of Nursing and plans to continue her education to earn a Master’s degree. Peggy is currently employed at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

Peggy returned to school to earn her associate’s degree while in her thirties and urges other students to persevere. “If you have a dream or a goal, go for it … Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you can do anything you set your mind to accomplish.”

Isaac Brown

Isaac Brown grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. After completing his GED, Isaac earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences in General Studies from Southside Virginia Community College, graduating with Highest Honors. He then transferred to Old Dominion University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Human Services Counseling and was inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Since graduating, Isaac has worked with at-risk youth and served as a mentor to children, including speaking at an alternative school, urging its students to continue pursuing their education. He is currently a Supervisor/Trainee, counseling children at Reunited Counseling & Training in Decatur, Georgia. Isaac plans to continue working in the human services field, expanding his knowledge and working with different demographics and populations.

When asked what advice he would give to current and future SVCC students, Isaac responded, “All students should know that setting aside time to focus without distraction is necessary. Giving up will be a waste of time and effort. See your goals to the end.”

Deirdre Lucas

From Freeman, Virginia, Deirdre Lucas graduated from Brunswick Senior High School. She earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences in General Studies from Southside Virginia Community College. After graduating from SVCC, Deirdre transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University, where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

In addition to being a full-time Event and Communications Coordinator for the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and working part-time in a mental health facility, Deidre has launched a business, 1Truth Agency, to help business owners and artists develop their brands. She is also starting a non-profit foundation, the A.C.T. Program, to supply resources and information to encourage students to become dynamic leaders, innovators, and creative public servants of the future.

Reflecting on her time at SVCC, Deirdre says, “It helped shape my view for the multicultural world and prepared me for my time at VCU. Thanks to instructors like Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Hudson, Mrs. Martin and Dr. Johnson. Their teaching styles were on the same level as larger universities. I guess the secret ingredients were their love and general concern for each student; no matter their race, creed, or color. I’m so grateful for my time at SVCC. My experience there impacted my life greatly in ways I can’t explain.”

Mike Collins

Mike Collins, born in Danville, Virginia, grew up in Emporia and graduated from Greensville County High School. He then attended Southside Virginia Community College, earning an Associate of Applied Science in Electronic Technology.

Upon graduating from SVCC, Mike obtained employment at IBM in Manassas as a Test Equipment Technician working on semiconductor tester systems. After 31 years with IBM, he worked for Safran MorphoTrust for two years. He is currently Senior Director of Project Management Enablement for Infor, a global software company, leading a team that provides training and certification for its project managers, a methodology for its consultants, and the systems used to deliver its projects.

Mike also completed a Bachelor of Science from Rochester Institute of Technology. He is married with four adult children.

He advises, “I would say to current students that your degree is the start of a journey that can go anywhere. What I’m doing now is completely different from what I started out doing. Don’t get too locked up thinking that your decision on what to pursue in college is engraved in stone for your entire life. It’s just the starting point and foundation. Pick a major that will help you get a good job doing something you enjoy and then buckle up for the ride. SVCC was a great place for me to start my career and I cherish the memories I had there.”

Brandon Vaughan

Brandon Vaughan, a United States Army veteran, graduated with honors from Southside Virginia Community College with an Associate of Arts and Sciences in General Studies. While a student at SVCC, he was a member of the Veterans Club as well as Phi Theta Kappa, an honors society. After graduating from SVCC, Brandon transferred to Old Dominion University, where he is completing his Bachelor’s degree.

Brandon served in the Army from 2003 – 2011, both inside and outside of the United States, including 2005- 2006 in Iraq. He credits the military for teaching him how to get things done in an organized fashion and as quickly as possible, skills that were essential to his success at SVCC.