Dabney S. Lancaster Community College is pleased to announce that Marie Shiraki of Buena Vista has been selected as part of the seventh class of the Valley Proteins Fellows Program, administered by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
Originally, Mrs. Shiraki attended DSLCC with a desire to upgrade her business management skills. She and her husband, Christopher, a College Success Coach at DSLCC, and their eight children have operated a small family business, Shiraki Services, in Buena Vista for about 15 years.
In the fall of 2016, DSLCC offered a new Career Studies Certificate program in Arts Management. As a member of the Buena Vista Arts Council, Mrs. Shiraki says she recognized the chance to obtain more education for the budding non-profit organization. At the end of the year-long program she completed her required internship with the city of Buena Vista.
“This opportunity allowed me to apply for grants to the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Washington and Lee University that helped fund a summer art camp for school-aged children at Glen Maury Park,” she says.
Mrs. Shiraki, who currently serves as treasurer for the Buena Vista Arts Council, says she still recognizes the need to finish what she started by completing an Associate Degree in Business Management with a Specialization in Administrative Support. She is still a student at DSLCC.
Out of the more than 250,000 people Virginia’s Community Colleges serve across the commonwealth each year, only ten second-year students are selected for the Valley Proteins Fellows Program. The scholarship, combined with professional development, travel, and cultural opportunities, has an approximate value of $15,000.
In addition to receiving full tuition, book expenses and fees, the Fellows participate in a unique curriculum of intellectual and cultural activities. The Fellows also volunteer 80 hours of community service during the academic year to strengthen their leadership skills and develop a strong foundation for future success.
For her project, Mrs. Shiraki is volunteering for the Advancement Foundation, a non-profit business development organization that has set up shop in the Armory on the DSLCC campus in Clifton Forge. Expanding from Roanoke County with goals to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the area, the organization will offer business classes as well as a competition, The Gauntlet, for individuals interested in opening or expanding a business in the Alleghany Highlands.
The fellows program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Valley Proteins, Inc. The Winchester-based company has been in the rendering business for 68 years and currently operates 15 plants in eight states.
“Valley Proteins is privileged to invest in the future of some of Virginia's most outstanding students,” said Gerald F. (J.J.) Smith, Jr., president of Valley Proteins, Inc. “Helping to remove some of the obstacles that can hinder their success is a priority for us and it reflects our commitment and support for the community college mission overall.”
The Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, the fundraising arm of Virginia’s Community Colleges, oversees the fellows program, which Valley Proteins has funded for seven consecutive years.