Whiney Cassell family supports and encourages her dream of a teaching career. Her children created handmade notes of encouragement, honoring Cassell’s hard work, as well as the efforts of her classmates, (L to R): Jacklin Clark, of Patrick Springs and Casey Tucker, of Spencer. (Contributed photo)

Cassell, 28, said she started to attend Radford University after graduating from high school. She then attended Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC).

“Then, I tried to go through” classes offered by the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, she said, adding that attempt was short lived due to a number of factors, including a lengthy commute and her family.

Cassell said she realized it would be the same for most traditional programs, “especially if you don’t have the resources or the ability to go off to a four-year university, or if you’re older and have a family.”

After learning about NCI, which partners with other institutions to provide access to degrees, certificates, credentials, internships, professional development, and non-credit educational opportunities, Cassell said she decided to try again.

She enrolled in Longwood University at NCI, and…

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