PGCC alum Marques Carr graduated from the College in May 2023. While at PGCC, Mr. Carr participated in the Diverse Male Student Initiatives (DMSI) program, the Student Governance Association, and was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). In this reflective post-graduation interview, learn more about how Mr. Carr’s experience at PGCC prepared him for success as a Morgan State University student. This interview has been edited and condensed.
How did your PGCC experience prepare you to attend Morgan State University?
First and foremost, I want to thank God for allowing me to experience Prince George’s Community College and putting people in my life to push me to succeed. The people I encountered here gave me the opportunity to grow and be great. I learned a number of things, from life to academic lessons, but the best part was the journey.
My mentors prepared for my transition to Morgan State; they showed me how to balance education and life and how to stay open-minded. From professionalism to advocacy, from patience to representation, these are things I was given the opportunity to take part in during my time at PGCC.
As a student, you participated in the College’s DMSI program. What memories do you still treasure from that?
I wasn’t going to be part of the program at first due to some personal circumstances, but I got an email from the DMSI coordinator, Brian Hamlin, on the day of the first program and decided to make my way there. I became a part of something that was bigger than me. In DMSI, I met my brothers, who aren’t of blood relation, but we are bonded by brotherly love, respect, and a yearning for greatness.
One of my biggest memories was a trip to St. Louis, Missouri, at a conference called SAAB (Student African American Brotherhood). Brian Hamlin gave the keynote message, and he talked about “crucible moments.” He said, “Everything in your bloodline has been regular until you!” This stuck with me because it showed that I can be a difference-maker for my family and change everything. The second memory is when we prayed for this young man who was going through something in his home life, and we all held hands as men and prayed for the peace of his family. That was truly powerful.
You mentioned a summer 2023 internship with Price Waterhouse Coopers in your last interview. As an accounting major, how impactful was this internship? How important do you think internships are for students seeking real-world experience?
My internship was amazing because it solidified the area in which I want to build my career. It put gas in my tank to keep pushing against any adversity that I may face. I believe it is imperative that students seek out these opportunities for on-the-job training. They give insight that schools won’t be able to provide, opportunities to build a professional network, and opportunities to step out of the campus comfort zone. Internships also give you a look into how your days would be spent if you choose to work at a particular organization.
How did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the accounting field?
I did my research on the field of accounting and realized that every area of business needs accountants. I also have passions and goals for myself and my future family, so I feel like accounting is the best avenue for me to reach those goals and be successful with what I want to do.
Have your career goals shifted since your transition? What things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
My career goals have stayed along the same path—they just became more focused. In the next five years, I will be a certified public accountant, be married to my girlfriend of over three years, and give back my time to help spark the next generation. I will have crafted the environment I want to introduce my future family to, and I will have a scholarship with my name on it at Prince George’s Community College.
Looking back on your time at PGCC, what are some of your biggest takeaways from being a student?
Don’t expect to reap the benefits of the work you didn’t put in. You can’t do nothing and get something—you have to put in the work.
Wise words given to me by one of my mentors are “Be coachable” and “When you walk around with an empty cup, then people will always be willing to pour into you.”
What advice do you have for the next graduating class at PGCC?
Enjoy the journey! It’s not about where you start or where you finish, but it’s about the journey. What kind of seeds did you sow? Did you take advantage of what PGCC has to offer you? Don’t leave out of PGCC without any faculty knowing who you are because they are your biggest champions.
After migrating to the U.S. in 2015 from China, He Chen found extreme difficulty adjusting to life in a new country. In China, she had been working at her dream job in environmental protection after studying in the South of China with a focus on chemistry. However, due to her husband’s job requiring him to work in the U.S., Chen decided to relocate as well because her son missed his dad.
“It was a really hard decision,” says Chen. “I had to give up my job, my parents. And I couldn’t speak any English at that time. I was really scared, but I loved my son more.”
Upon relocating to the U.S., Chen quickly found herself at a loss. “I remember after I came here, I couldn’t drive, and I couldn’t go outside. I didn’t even know how to go shopping.” She stayed home for over a year and a half, relying on her husband to help her navigate tasks such as going to the store, and felt despondent due to language barriers. For Chen, the adjustment became so difficult that she even contemplated relocating back to China.
But things began to change once Chen discovered PGCC’s Adult Education ESL (English for Speakers of other Languages) classes through her friends. Within two months, she began to speak some English and earned her driver’s license. After becoming a PGCC student, Chen began to feel a sense of community among her classmates. “When I came to the English class, we were all students and couldn’t speak English very well. You are not only you—you belong to this group,” says Chen. “I began to feel much better. And I knew the teacher could teach us how to do things in the United States.”
Following that course, Chen began taking Transition ESOL classes. One of the activities in her conversation class was practicing how to do a job interview, which inspired Chen to start looking for a new job in her field of study. Chen says, “I practiced what I studied in the conversational class for two weeks. And later, I passed the interview. It was amazing.” Chen was thrilled to find a job in her field. “I found a job—not in a Chinese restaurant, not as a Chinese teacher, but the same job as my job in China, you know. I continued my career! And after that, everything is great.”
Chen got a job at a biology lab associated with the University of Maryland, developing drugs for cancer research. “My task is to do biology and chemistry experiments to test some drugs and how they work. I will synthesize antibodies with chemistry drugs and connect them to treat cancers like liver or lung cancer. I think if we are successful, we can help a lot of people.”
Chen is also grateful for PGCC’s English classes empowering her to help her son with his homework. After her experience as a student at the College, she remains motivated to make a difference in the world through her work. “I want to work for humanity. I want to spend my life following my heart.”
In 2022, Chen and her family relocated to Illinois, where she continues to work as a researcher and enjoys her career.
When asked about advice for other ESOL students, Chen says, “Just take English classes as much as you can. Don’t be scared. You will improve very fast and keep studying. It can totally change your life.”
Prince George’s Community College offers a wide variety of ESL programs focused on teaching life, workplace, and academic skills in English. To learn more about the College’s ESL offerings, click here.
Pamela Marcus is a nursing professor at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC). In this interview, learn about Pamela’s history in the nursing field, her views on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nursing practice, and her thoughts on reaching her 50th year in nursing. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us about your background and where you are from.
I am originally from Binghamton, New York. I went to Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in nursing at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. I also obtained my master’s in nursing at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, MD.
What inspired you to embark on a career in health care as a nurse?
As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a nurse. I worked as a volunteer candy striper (a teenage hospital volunteer) when I was 13-16 years old and worked as a nurses’ aide (currently called a Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA) from age 16 until I became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at the age of 20. I became a Registered Nurse (RN) in 1973, and I received my master’s in adult psychiatric nursing in January 1978.
I have worked in a variety of settings as an LPN, including the burn unit and the ER. As an RN, I began to work in psychiatric mental health nursing and found my area of interest. As a psychiatric mental health nurse, I have worked in a hospital inpatient setting, served as the Clinical Director of Crisis Response Systems in Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County, and founded a private practice that I still maintain to see patients. On the educational side, I worked as an Assistant Staff Development Coordinator, helping nursing staff with orientation as new hires and increasing their skills as they practice. I have also served as a nursing supervisor on two medical-surgical units.
I have had the opportunity to speak nationally on a variety of subjects, such as suicide prevention, psychiatric emergencies, childhood sexual trauma, personality disorders, prevention of violence, and mood disorders. I continue to present locally and nationally. For example, on June 1, I will be speaking for Montgomery mental health on mood disorders. I just completed a podcast for the Academy of Forensic Nursing on assessing adverse childhood experiences when evaluating risk for suicide.
I also write for a variety of psychiatric mental health nursing textbooks. I have participated in writing and updating clinical practice guidelines for the American Psychiatric Nurses Association on assessing risk and intervention for suicide prevention. Recently, I participated in updating the clinical practice guideline for the prevention of seclusion and restraint (APNA). And I serve as a peer reviewer for a variety of psychiatric mental periodicals.
What is one experience you’ve had with a patient that has always stuck with you?
When I worked as an LPN in the burn unit in Buffalo, NY, I met a 7-year-old who attempted suicide by going to Niagara Falls and grabbing a live electric wire. He sustained a 90 percent full-thickness burn. He taught me how to touch him in a therapeutic way when giving care. I really had to think about his care based on his age and needs for a 7-year-old. The work I have done with suicide prevention is in memory of this young boy.
This year marks your 50th as a nurse! What an achievement. How do you feel, and do you plan to celebrate?
I am enjoying bringing new nurses into the world as part of the nursing faculty at Prince George’s Community College. I have had the opportunity to plan the Pinning Ceremony for the graduating nurses over the last several years. This ceremony gives me pleasure and is a celebration of nursing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an immeasurably challenging time for nurses and front-line workers. Do you envision more positive changes in the nursing practice environment that will benefit nurses and their patients?
My hope is that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped nurses think about perseverance, grit, and what each nurse needs to do for self-care. I discuss this with my students and nurses that I know. COVID-19 has caused exhaustion among nursing staff and educators. It is important for the profession to evaluate optimum staffing patterns and patient-nurse ratios to prevent burnout.
How has the pandemic changed the way that nursing programs are being taught?
Two events have impacted nursing education. One was the pandemic, and the second was a change in the national board exam geared towards critical thinking, similar to how the nurse functions at the bedside. The pandemic helped me to distill what the student needs to understand about the psychiatric nursing principles they will use in all areas of nursing.
I have simulations, documentaries, and reflection papers to highlight the lived experience of individuals with mental illness. It has been a creative time for me; I enjoy thinking about patients and the needs nurses must recognize and address while providing care.
What has been your experience teaching at PGCC? How long have you been a faculty member?
I have taught at PGCC for 24 years. I enjoy teaching nursing, although sometimes it is challenging. Watching my students grow to understand the patient experiencing mental illness while they think of how to provide care for the individual is very important to me. Students progress from being frightened of going to an inpatient behavioral health unit to understanding how competent nursing care can provide support and hope for the patient.
Is there any advice that you’d like to give to those interested in pursuing a career in nursing and health care?
I want future nurses to learn the skills of perseverance and grit. I teach my students to take 10 deep breaths to physiologically reduce their anxiety prior to taking a test. Throughout the semester, I have asked the students what they are doing to replenish their reserves to prevent burnout.
TaSharie Avery is a nursing student at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC). In this interview, learn about TaSharie’s background, her biggest influences, how she became interested in the nursing field, and her advice to new students on the campus. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us about your background and where you are from. Where is home for you?
I am a high school graduate from Eleanor Roosevelt High School. I am a military baby, so I have moved around a lot. This is the longest amount of time that I have stayed in one state. But I was born in North Carolina on the Fort Bragg Military Base. Home is where I feel happy and safe.
I live with my parents and consider that a happy and safe environment. Anywhere I can get safe sleep surrounded by people I know who care for my well-being is considered home for me.
What attracted you to PGCC?
Who are your biggest influences? What inspired you to study nursing and health care?
My biggest influences are my parents. We bump heads often, but without them pushing me forward, I would not be as confident in my career choice as I am now. My chronic illness inspired me to pursue health care and nursing. Most of my middle and high school career was spent in and out of the Children’s National Hospital due to Chron’s Disease. In high school, I was feeling really down because I was supposed to go to China for my school trip, but I could not go because I had a flare-up.
I do not remember my nurse’s name, but I know her face. She opened up to me and said she had Chron’s too. She said, “Right now, it seems like you will never live a normal life, but once we find a way to get you into remission, you will be able to eat the things you want and live the life you want.”
She was the first nurse to tell me this, and I believe it sparked my passion to enter the nursing field. Her words sat in my head, and they inspired me to get better and become that inspiration for another sick teenager who feels alone.
What surprised you the most about being a student at PGCC?
The amount of nursing friends that I made along the way. I feel like I can talk to anyone about anything, and I would be supported. So many PGCC nursing students are understanding and supportive, and I appreciate that so much.
When will you graduate? What are your plans after that?
I will graduate on Saturday, May 20, 2023. My plans after graduation are to sleep and celebrate my achievements for one week, study for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for the next two to three weeks, then take the NCLEX so I can become an official registered nurse. Then work in the ICU unit at the University of Maryland Medical System.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Most people do not know that I am a left-handed anxiety-prone person. Even though I am always smiling and putting on a strong face, I am probably just as scared or anxious as the next person. I just hide it very well.
Do you have a piece of advice for students new to PGCC?
Join a club and go to the awesome events that are offered here! One of my favorite memories is doing an escape room with some students I didn’t know. Try not to be the student who goes to class and then goes home. Follow PGCC on Instagram and see what is happening on campus. Go to the events that interest you and make some friends!
Samantha Howard is the Coordinator for Recruitment and Community Relations at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC). In this interview, learn more about Samantha’s role at the College, Open House campus events, and how student recruitment has evolved since the pandemic. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us about your background and where you are from.
I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moved to the United States permanently in 1998. I am a proud alumna of Prince George's Community College, having graduated with a General Studies Associate of Arts Degree in communication/speech, then transferred to University of Maryland Global Campus where I received a Bachelor’s of Arts in communication studies with an art minor. As a student at Prince George’s Community College, I served as the first president of the Enrollment Services Student Ambassador Program, receiving the Outstanding Organizational Member Award for outstanding leadership and service in the ESSA program and was voted "Who’s Who" among students in American junior colleges.
Over the past 16 years at PGCC, I have had the privilege to work in partnership with Prince George's County Public Schools, private schools, community partners, and external educational programs within Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia with a focus on simplifying the high school to college transition.
What is your role as Coordinator for Recruitment and Community Relations?
As the Coordinator of Recruitment and Community Relations for Prince George's Community College, I serve as a liaison for the Enrollment Services cluster for prospective, underrepresented student populations with expertise in community partnership development, equity, diversity, and inclusion with a primary focus on Hispanic/Latino recruitment, cultural programming, foster youth, pregnant or parenting teens, and unaccompanied homeless youth. My passion for serving underrepresented and multicultural student populations in higher education has driven me to remain focused and committed to this niche industry.
PGCC held its spring Open House event on April 4. How do open houses positively impact student recruitment? What is your favorite part of Open House?
Open House serves as an opportunity for prospective students to see themselves on the Prince George’s Community College campus, and interact with current students, faculty, and staff while exploring their academic options here at PGCC. My favorite part of Open House was meeting — in person — the many new families exploring PGCC for the first time. Having the opportunity to create these fun, informative, and oftentimes transformative experiences for students and their families is an amazing part of my job!
How has recruitment at the College evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of virtual learning?
Post-pandemic recruitment is a dynamic and exciting landscape. Virtual and hybrid modalities give us a broader reach and offer even more opportunities for engagement with prospective students and their families, and provide access to students who otherwise may not have had time or an opportunity to visit us in person. We have become more flexible and accessible as an institution, all while remaining connected and supportive of student needs.
Is there anything you’d like to share about the College that new or prospective students may not be aware of?
There are so many ways to get involved at a community college! Just because we are a commuter school does not mean that we do not have a robust student life. Get involved! Create your own experience by joining a club or organization, take part in a scholarship program like the Southern Management Leadership Program, or attend college-sponsored events like athletic games or theatre productions. There is so much to explore at PGCC!
Lastly, tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I am an artist and professional gift wrapper! I specialize in acrylics and gift wrap designs. I have had the privilege of exhibiting my work at the PGCC Center for Performing Arts Community Art Show in the spring of 2022. As a professional gift wrap artist, I create elaborate gift-wrapping designs. Through my exhibit pieces, it is my goal to reintroduce the artistry and beauty of gift wrapping. Through creative expression, I am able to articulate my feelings and thoughts while simultaneously enhancing my intellectual health. My creative expression offers me a place of healing, growth, and community — and invites others (artists) to step out into the sun.
Prince George’s Community College student Barisua Sampson is a cybersecurity major. He recently obtained a certification in Security+, the first certification that provides the core skills and framework for a successful career in cybersecurity. In this interview, Barisua shares his experience as a PGCC student and discusses the student Hacker Space Club. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us where you are from.
I was born and raised in Nigeria. I moved to the United States in 2017 and became a U.S. citizen in January 2023.
What is your classification and major?
I’m a sophomore, and my major is cybersecurity.
What attracted you to Prince George’s Community College?
What first attracted me was the technical programs that can prepare me for employment within a short time through affordable education, with a variety of financial aid to support low-income families like mine. In addition, PGCC offers a wide range of academic programs, including transferable programs for students who wish to continue their education at a four-year college or university.
I think that was a great opportunity for me to jump on since I needed a degree within a short time that was sustainable—not just a certification that will require recertification.
Tell us about the Hacker Space Club and how you became involved.
The Hacker Space Club is a student organization that gives opportunities to network with like-minded individuals to collaborate on projects that are related to the real-world industry, such as Kali, Wireshark, Installation, and configuration of Windows Defender Firewall inbound and outbound rules. Hacker Space Club holds hands-on activities regularly where different resource persons train students on these tools. For example, in March, the club had Professor Leveque Tom Andre Levec, who taught members some hacking tools like the Metasploitable framework and Metasploit.
You recently passed the Security+ certification. What advice do you have for students who are interested in cybersecurity?
My advice is to be curious and enthusiastic. Put in your time to explore all the available resources that have been provided by the school in human capacity, materials, and infrastructures. Also, connect with folks that are in the same field of study and the sky will be your starting point.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I love swimming. I swim three to four times a week, which is the only exercise I do.
What are your plans after you graduate?
My plans after graduation are to work to gain industry experience before I further my education in cloud security or information security.
Click here to learn more about PGCC’s Center for Cybersecurity.
Miriam J. Machado-Luces
Miriam “Mimi” J. Machado-Luces is a multiple award-winning television producer, writer, and filmmaker. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, and raised in a multilingual family, Miriam has a strong passion for diversity and storytelling. She has a long and successful career in media, specializing in bilingual-cross-cultural digital, film, broadcast, and radio content. This interview has been edited and condensed.
How would you best describe your role as Senior Producer for PGCC TV at Prince George’s Community College?
I am charged with telling the story of the College from each photograph we take to every video we produce. My favorite part of my role is telling the stories of the students who receive their education here in our Grad Success Series. It is my honor and privilege to share their educational journey with the rest of the planet. It’s special and inspiring to do this work, and I truly love every aspect of visual storytelling for Prince George’s Community College.
I come from a large family, and my ancestors contributed so much to this entire world, but nobody knows their names. I have had the good fortune of honing my craft in settings where I shine a light on the unseen, the marginalized, and often forgotten people. That kind of storytelling is my special sauce. So, I am proud to work here—I love the students, my team, and my job.
How did your upbringing and multilingual background influence your passion for storytelling?
My ancestors were true revolutionaries! They helped free Latin America from Spanish colonial rule. My parents were trendsetters and game-changers. My father was a computer scientist—he helped to develop things like the microchip and the technology we use to make airline reservations on our phones and computers. My mother had a hair salon in Venezuela and ran a restaurant in the U.S. After my father died, she did the heavy lifting and helped me realize my dreams by caring for my kids during the last three years of her life. I can’t fully explain all the gifts they gave me, but I try to include my upbringing in every story I tell.
I grew up traveling the world with my family and saw evidence of a higher power in each place we visited. I used to make up things about my background as a kid. However, once I began the research, I was astounded by our true family story—so much so that I am currently editing a documentary about my family called Trini-Vene Tribe. I hope to share this very personal yet universal story with the world soon. So, who I am is rooted in the people who made me and defines me as a person. That’s the story I aim to tell every day at the College.
Tell us about a recent PGCC TV project that you’re most proud of.
Wow, I am proud of all the work that I do. I think I am most proud of the next piece we are creating with mass communication students, Professor Holder, and Around Prince George’s by the PGCC TV team. Around Prince George’s is a news magazine show that we produce each semester with fall and spring editions. Students are anchors, reporters, editors, videographers, and writers. They are involved in every aspect of the 30-minute show’s production, and they are award-winning! We won the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Salute to Excellence Award for Best Undergraduate Broadcast in 2020.
What advice do you have for students interested in media production or broadcast journalism?
Come visit PGCC TV! We are on the third floor of Accokeek Hall. We are an inclusive teaching and learning team of consummate professionals with at least 100 years of experience in broadcast television. Let’s create good content about the College and share it with the world. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.
Professor Annette Savoy
Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) Associate Professor Annette Savoy had spent 17 years working in the health care industry, serving as a senior consultant, and a training manager responsible for thousands of employees delivering responsive care to patients. With an extensive career training doctors, nurses, front-line staff, and executive and community leaders, she realized she wanted to bring her experience into the classroom to give students the tools to become more successful in the health care industry. “This was also an opportunity to combine what I consider to be my professional gifts and give back to a community that gave me so much,” Professor Savoy says.
In 2018, she successfully pitched a specialty course geared toward students majoring in Allied Health and Nursing (AHN) programs to her department chair. The following year, Professor Savoy met and surveyed students, faculty, and staff about an AHN specialty course and received an overwhelmingly positive response. With a focus on teaching the foundations of communication, the class would allow students to interact with instructors who also worked as allied health and nursing experts. Ultimately, the goal would be to foster a learning environment that left students engaged and excited about their future.
“I wanted to ensure that course assignments and assessments would help students be successful in future required courses for allied health, nursing, and health care careers and degrees,” says Professor Savoy. From the start, she collaborated with a coordinator at the Office of Records and Registration and the Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness (RAE) Office staff to determine the best time to offer the course and ensure that students could apply their new knowledge in their future health care endeavors. More notably, AHN faculty agreed to coach and guide the professors teaching the course by including lab visits and inviting health care professionals as guest speakers to speak to the enrolled students. With full support from the AHN faculty and deans, the course launched as COM-1010: Foundations of Communication for Allied Health and Nursing.
“It was amazing and powerful to witness how much more engaged these students were compared to previous COM-1010 courses,” continues Professor Savoy. She noticed a remarkable improvement in students’ scores, particularly in communication and engagement. Engagement scores for all students increased by 100% compared to the previous COM-1010 course. “Seeing the excitement and eagerness on their faces energized me and reinforced my sense of purpose to meet this unmet need,” she says.
Students felt encouraged to network more frequently during and after class, bonding over their similar interests and career paths. At the end of the spring 2022 semester, Professor Savoy received a special email from one student who was thankful for the course improving her communication skills as she pursued a future career in nursing. It was evident that the course — which holds a capacity of 20 students — was fulfilling its purpose through the students’ increased engagement and performance in their studies.
She also remains grateful for the help from advising in enrolling students for the course. “The Allied Health and Nursing academic advisors were instrumental in recruiting and advising students to take the Foundations of Communication specialty course,” she says. “Their support was vital to my success!”
Professor Savoy’s specialty course is offered in the fall semester through the College’s Registered Nurse (RN) Program. For more information on PGCC’s other programs under Nursing and Allied Health, click here.