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VGCC connects students to careers in Biotech


With the biotechnology industry booming in North Carolina, Vance-Granville Community College is offering a number of training program options, while focusing on helping students land jobs and, if they choose, transfer to partnering universities.

“According to NCBIO and the N.C. Biotechnology Center, thousands of new jobs in biotech and life sciences are coming to central North Carolina in the next few years,” said Stewart Lyon, who heads VGCC’s Biotech programs, based at the college’s Franklin County Campus. “Vance-Granville can help you enter a rewarding career in biotech or pharmaceutical manufacturing or a science lab position in as little as six months.”

In Bioprocess Technology, the college offers a certificate, which can be completed in six months; a diploma program, which takes about one year, and the two-year Associate in Applied Science degree. All these options are eligible for federal financial aid to qualified students. In addition, there is a BioWork Process Technician continuing education course offered periodically, in a format that takes less than one semester to complete.

Lyon, who has experience in the biotechnology industry and was VGCC’s Faculty Member of the Year for 2018-19, provides students not only with education but also resources and connections to obtain employment. In addition to emailing leads on job opportunities to a distribution list containing current and former students, Lyon is planning special events.

“We’re holding a resume event for current and former students of VGCC’s Biotechnology programs at the Franklin Campus on Monday, March 23, from 5:30-8 p.m.,” he said. “A biotech resume expert will visit from the NC BioNetwork to help students cater their resumes for entry into the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.”

Then, on April 16, current and former students are invited to attend a special career fair at the N.C. Biotechnology Center in the Research Triangle Park. Only students who participate in the March 23 resume clinic can attend the career fair.

The growing biotech field encompasses a wide variety of employers, including companies that are on the front lines of developing tests and treatments for diseases. Everything from pharmaceutical manufacturing to research, testing and medical labs, agricultural feedstock and industrial biosciences businesses are included in the broad sector, which are represented in the Triangle as well as VGCC’s service area.

“We have students and alumni employed at several companies in the area, including Novozymes in Franklinton, Grifols in Clayton, Isolera Extracts in Oxford, Revlon in Oxford, and Scientific Calibration in Cary,” Lyon said. To increase his students’ knowledge of the industry, he regularly takes them on field trips to some of these locations.

Lyon also points out that students have options to continue their education beyond VGCC, particularly through new transfer opportunities. Graduates with the Bioprocess Technology degree may transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences program at North Carolina Central University.

“A summer internship is available at NCCU’s research labs, which gives students professionals experience and can count for credit toward the VGCC degree,” Lyon added.

NCCU also offers master’s degrees in both Drug Discovery and Biomanufacturing, and a Ph.D. program is under development. Since VGCC’s Bioprocess Technology certificate is also a Career & College Promise (CCP) option for current high school students, the partnership with NCCU means that a pathway from high school training through advanced graduate degrees is possible.

Meanwhile, through the new “Pirate Promise” program, students from VGCC can transfer to East Carolina University to complete a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology, with a concentration in Bioprocess Manufacturing. ECU’s degree can be completed entirely online or in-person.

Anyone interested in learning more about studying biotechnology at VGCC is invited to visit the Franklin Campus open house on Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. until noon. The campus is located at 8100 N.C. 56, just west of Louisburg.

For more information on VGCC’s biotech programs, contact Mr. Lyon at or 252-738-3632.


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