MOOREFIELD, W.Va. – News of Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s $2.25 million federal Title III grant award last October subsequently led to a flurry of activity on campus over the past year and put Dixie Heavener, Title III project director and career counselor, in the middle of the action.
Heavener, a resident of Burlington, joined Eastern in February, and her hiring was a critical piece of Eastern’s Title III puzzle. When asked how she would describe the grant’s goals, Heavener replied, “to increase enrollment and the number of graduates, improve retention rates for students, and develop programs to better serve students.”
In other words, students are at the center of the grant and of Heavener’s duties.
Heavener’s been involved with public education for years, holding positions at West Virginia University’s Potomac State College, the Allegany County (Md.) school system, and most recently at Frostburg State University (Md.), where she was a senior research associate supporting a federal grant project.
Heavener said she came to Eastern because of her previous federal grant work, and because Eastern’s diverse student population was a good fit with her own educational experiences. She has a daughter now attending college, so she said she understands the traditional college-age student demographic. However, Heavener also can empathize with older students, as she started working on her college degrees while a single parent, taking classes part time while working full time. “I get it,” she said, talking about the challenges of coursework while caring for her child and making ends meet. Heavener persevered and earned her MBA from West Virginia University in 2014.
As Eastern’s Title III grant project director, Heavener has many administrative duties managing the grant, its budget, and required federal reporting. So far, she said, the college is making progress in achieving the project’s goals, all the grant-related personnel have been hired and are working on their respective tasks, and some large projects, including technology to improve student advising, will be implemented in the coming year.
But Heavener’s job with Eastern and the grant is two-fold, as she also is serving as the college’s new career counselor and is charged with developing a Career Center to serve students and Eastern alumni.
With the first year of the grant nearly completed, Heavener is shifting some of her focus to Career Services development at Eastern.
Some Career Services resources are available now, Heavener said, so Eastern students and alumni are invited to stop by the school’s new Career Center, located on the first floor of the college, to use them. The Career Center features computers and a printer, a library of career-related books and guides, and a referral system kiosk provided by the Region VII Workforce Development Board that links registrants to local agencies for social service needs, such as unemployment, veteran services, education/skills upgrades, food pantry, and more.
Additional resources will be added to the Career Center in coming months, such as the Focus 2 Career system, which provides decision-making models so users can identify careers and plan majors that will align with those goals. Heavener said other institutions in the state, such as West Virginia University and West Virginia State University, use Focus 2 with great success, and it’s especially helpful for those who have not yet settled on a major or are considering a career switch. Another soon-to-arrive resource will be Handshake, a service used by colleges and universities to provide student-to-employer networking opportunities. Handshake also can host virtual job fairs and interviews.
As the college’s career counselor, Heavener is available for appointments, in-person and virtual, to provide guidance for students and alumni in job-search tactics, resume writing, interview strategies, and more. She also will be teaching a career-readiness course in the spring, will work with faculty to help students land internships and assistantships, and will be adding more resources to the college’s Career Services webpage.
Heavener is also coordinating a Community Job Fair on Friday, Oct. 7, at Eastern, in partnership with the college’s Workforce Education Department, Workforce West Virginia, and the Region VII Workforce Development Board. The job fair’s morning session will be from 9 to 11 a.m., and the afternoon session will be from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend, and approximately 30 employers will be participating. Job seekers are encouraged to bring resumes, space will be available for on-site interviews, and Heavener will be offering on-the-spot career services.
So, as year one of the Title III grant wraps up, Heavener said she and the rest of the college staff are working on the next phase to improve students’ experiences at Eastern, and she’s looking forward to helping students move on to new careers and challenges.
To learn more about Eastern’s Career Services and the Career Center, contact Heavener at firstname.lastname@example.org, call her at 304-434-8000 ext. 9239, or visit https://easternwv.edu/current-students/career-services.