Client Spotlight: Virginia’s Mellon Pathways Program

Pathways Program logo
Mellon Pathways Program

HEI is proud to shine the spotlight on the impactful and exciting work of our client, the Mellon Pathways Program, a partnership between John Tyler Community College, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The program equips students with the knowledge, support, and resources needed to complete their associate degree at either community college and transfer to VCU to complete their bachelor’s degree. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provides grant support.

Micol Hutchison, Director of the Pathways Program, says that the mission of the program is to “simplify, demystify, and support student transfer starting at the community college level, long before the actual transfer takes place.” She adds that the Pathways Program is also dedicated to “creating community and using the arts and humanities as a vehicle for engaging, exciting, and inspiring students.”

First Transfer Group

This fall, the very first group of Pathways students—20 total—will be transferring to VCU. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of students has demonstrated resilience and built a strong sense of community. Hutchison recalls initially being concerned about the interpersonal connections that might be lost when the group’s meetings were moved from in-person to Zoom. Remarkably, because Zoom has allowed a larger group of students to gather at a given time, an even stronger sense of community has been developed. Students gather for arts and humanities conversations, career exploration, book discussions, and other aspects related to their educational pathways.

HEI has supported the Pathways Program as a grant evaluation consultant since its establishment in 2019. Hutchison shares, “Both Tashera [Gale] and John [Archacki] have been such supporters of the work we’re trying to do. They’ve been helpful and supportive of integrating equity and diversity into the program’s work.”

May 13 @ 6 pm ET: Mellon Research Fellows Colloquium

Pathways students have the opportunity to apply to become a Mellon Research Fellow, through which they receive a stipend to support a research project in the humanities or arts. They work with a VCU faculty member and a community college mentor and present their work at an annual colloquium. This year’s gathering is scheduled for May 13th at 6 pm ET and will be livestreamed on the program’s Facebook page. We encourage you to check out the exciting work from this year’s fellows, which include research papers, a podcast series, documentary films, and visual arts.