Brian Bolyard with BridgeValley on AEP Foundation funds STEM program

by Sam Sentelle

Brian Bolyard Chief Marketing Officer BridgeValley C&T College

Brian Bolyard, Chief Marketing Officer for BridgeValley

AEP Foundation funds STEM program at BridgeValley

December 12, 2017

BridgeValley Community & Technical College will support 2,200 students with a special grant from the AEP FoundationBrian Bolyard told Putnam Rotarians today. Bolyard, the Chief Marketing Officer for BridgeValley, said the five-year grant will enable the college to offer dual credit classes at Nitro and Riverside High Schools. Students will be able to earn high school credit for certain classes in science and math and transfer the credits to BridgeValley. The grant will also encourage feeder middle schools to Nitro and Riverside to encourage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) scholars.

“BridgeValley offers an affordable college education to our students,” said Bolyard, “where they can gain the skills to enter the workplace, start their own business or continue on to a four-year degree.”

BridgeValley has articulation agreements with Marshall, WVU and the University of Charleston, said Bolyard. “[Students] can come to BridgeValley, save some tuition dollars, explore what they’re really passionate about, and then transfer to a four-year school as a junior.

“We offer a lot of support that is not necessarily mirrored in our four-year schools,” he said. “We offer robust academic support, emotional counseling. We also partner with some of our state agencies such as WorkForce West Virginia and the Department of Health & Human Resources through programs such as TANF grants [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families]. We work with those people struggling to attain a college education on a number of levels to keep them on track.”

“We have a number of partnerships with local employers,” he added. “We can do on-site training for things such as OSHA all the way up to a fully integrated cooperative relationship such as we have with Toyota. Students there take classes two days a week with us; they work at the Buffalo plant three days a week. They graduate with a manufacturing degree and have an opportunity to go with Toyota full time.”

The “Learn & Earn” program is not just for larger employers, he added. “You may hire an ‘intern’ from BridgeValley (or any community college) and students work for you two or three days a week while they are concurrently finishing up their degree. And the state will pay fifty percent of their salary. That provides students on the job training,” he said, “and it provides [the employer] an opportunity to get some help around the office. A lot of our employers view this as the longest job interview possible,” he joked.

“When you hire an employee, it’s a huge commitment. So it’s an opportunity to make sure [the intern] is the kind of person they want with their company long term. The student learns what it means to be in a workplace and gains the skills they may not get in the classroom.”

BridgeValley now has such relationships with about 27 businesses in its six-county service area. The relationships evolve differently with each company, he said.

Bolyard cited research by the WVU Bureau of Research & Business Statistics that BridgeValley adds about $30.1 million to the local economy in return for about $8 million in public support.

Brian Bolyard Chief Marketing Officer BridgeValley C&T College
Brian Bolyard Chief Marketing Officer BridgeValley C&T College
Brian Bolyard Chief Marketing Officer BridgeValley C&T College
Brian Bolyard addressing Rotary on AEP Foundation funds STEM program at BridgeValley

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Sam Sentelle

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