Helping to Serve her Community

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When Brooke Shehan was taking dual enrollment classes at Rockbridge County High School through Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, she wasn’t anticipating a future career helping people at the same school that helped her earn her college credits. But here she is today, the FastForward Career Coach at DSLCC.

“I’ve always been drawn to education, and I can’t say I expected to be working here – it was happenstance – but it all worked out so well,” she said. “I really enjoy helping people and I knew whatever I ended up doing for a career, that I wanted to help people.”

And for the last five years, that’s exactly what she’s done. After studying business and marketing at Virginia Tech, Brooke found her way home to DSLCC. She worked her way through a few roles before finding the role of coach in 2017.

Brooke spends most of her days talking to students who are enrolled in FastForward program, or with prospective students who are interested in learning more about what training is available.

“I really serve as the first point of contact for people who are interested in FastForward,” she said. “Sometimes, that’s just to give them information about a program or to meet with them in person to talk about their career goals. Other times, I may be helping to get them registered, apply for FastForward funding, help them find other sources of funding, or if they’re already in the program, I’m here to answer their questions about their next steps.”

As the community college in Alleghany Highlands, DSLCC serves a rural area of Virginia where there is a need to get workforce training readily and quickly.

“FastForward makes education more accessible and more affordable for residents,” Brooke said. “Anyone can walk into DSLCC and say, ‘I want something to better my life…now,’ and FastForward has that short-term training. It’s not as daunting to get a certificate in a trade in a few months, versus the longer time commitment needed to obtain a degree.”

FastForward coaches like Brooke are experts in helping adults break down the barriers that stand between them in achieving their career and life goals. Brooke helps students find grant funding and community partner programs that may help offset additional costs, like transportation and childcare. Success for Brooke means a student enrolls, trains, gets certified, has a great experience at DSLCC, and gets a job.

“We want to do whatever we can do to help our students where they are,” she said. “We have a really passionate faculty and staff that help our students. I try to remind myself each day that we don’t always understand a person’s background until we get to know them and their story. Coming to campus can be scary itself, so doing whatever we can do to help a student when they’re here should be everyone’s goal.”

DSLCC offers a wide variety of FastForward programs, from CDL-A training, to healthcare (clinical medical assistant, phlebotomy technician), welding, and skilled trades (HVAC, electrical).

If you’re looking to move ahead in your career, or to switch to a new field altogether, reach out through our website to connect with a coach in your community who can help you figure out your first step.