Alumni Spotlight

Christopher Powell

December 10, 2020
PHCC Alumni, Christopher Powell
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PHCC Alumni, Christopher Powell

Let's get to know PHCC Alumni, Chris Powell!

What year did you graduate from Patrick Henry Community College?

What was your program of study, degree or certification earned at PHCC?
Graduated with honors with an associate of arts and science in science.

Why did you choose Patrick Henry Community College?
After I graduated from Martinsville High School, I wanted to stay close to home. My parents persuaded me to go to PHCC to save money while earning an associate degree needed to pursue a bachelor’s degree. PHCC provided all the core classes and resources needed to build my confidence that I needed to attend Virginia Tech.  

How were things different when you attended PHCC?
Technology is the biggest difference I see now.  When I was at PHCC in the late 90’s there were no smart phones.  The library was a major resource as internet was just starting to become mainstream and you could go to the library and log on.

What is your current position?
Operations Project Manager at Philpott Lake

Tell me about your journey, how did you get to the career you’re in now and how did PHCC help you in that journey and prepare you for your career/profession?
I always loved the outdoors and my dream job growing up was to become a Game Warden. After graduating PHCC I attended Virginia Tech where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science. After college I found an opportunity as a Park Ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at Philpott Lake. I have been with the USACE ever since, I have served in different positions at different locations before returning to Philpott in 2017 as the Operations Project Manager of Philpott Lake.

Do you have a certain memory that stands out during your time at PHCC?
Besides basketball at the time PHCC didn’t have much of an athletics program. While I was attending PHCC, the first soccer team was established. I have many memories playing soccer with friends at PHCC. One time in particular that stands out was when PHCC hosted an indoor soccer tournament inside the gymnasium.

What advice do you have for students deciding whether to attend PHCC?
Attending PHCC was one of the best decisions I made in advancing my education. Martinsville/Henry County through PHCC has all the resources needed to fulfill your college requirements. You don’t have to move away and spend a lot of money while earning core college credits. Relationships with Professors at PHCC are personable, which is not something you get at larger Universities. 

Was there a time when someone at PHCC helped you get through some challenge or overcome some obstacle?
The students at PHCC were the ones that assisted me the most while I was enrolled at PHCC. There was a lot of camaraderie among the students, as we would all hangout in front of the main entrance between classes. My sister was enrolled there at the same time along with many friends. We all supported each other to overcome challenges to meet our goals.

“Live as if you’ll die tomorrow. Learn as if you’ll live forever.” –Old Adage

What’s the one skill you would like most to learn right now?
Learn how to play the guitar.

Tell about a time when you “lived as if you’ll die tomorrow,” what did you do?
After living away from Martinsville/Henry County for 10 years, me and my wife really wanted to get back closer to the area. At the time I had a really good position at Buggs Island Lake but transferred to a job I really didn’t want just to move back closer to home. I stuck to the advice that my grandmother always said, “that everything will work out”. Which it did! After a short time of working a job that I really didn’t like I landed my dream job that I have today, Operations Project Manager at Philpott Lake.

Tell me about your role model or someone who lives by this philosophy.
My role model is my Dad. He taught me so many life skills that I know I would not be where I am today without his knowledge and support. He never ceases to amaze me, as the older he gets the newer things he is willing to try. I am grateful for the people around him that allow for him to live as if you’ll die tomorrow and learn as if you’ll live forever!