Alumni Awards

2022 Distinguished Alumni Award

Craig EarlsCraig Allan Earls has been named the Southwest Virginia Community College 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon outstanding graduates from Southwest Virginia Community College.  Since the establishment of the award in 1980, forty-one graduates of Southwest have been selected by a committee to receive the award.  This honored tradition is to acknowledge the achievements of exceptional alumni whose personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the vision of Southwest which is to transform lives, strengthen communities and inspire excellence.

Craig Earls is a native of Tazewell County, and graduated from Tazewell High School in 1999. He went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Southwest Virginia Community College in 2001 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer & Electrical Internetworking, and was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa.  Mr. Earls continued his technical education at SWCC as part of a “Fast Track” program and earned a Career Studies Certificate in Advanced Software Development in 2007 with highest honors.  Craig also graduated Magna Cum Laude from King University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Administration. He also holds multiple IT industry certifications.

Growing up, Craig developed an interest in computer repair, which was challenging as he had no computer of his own. So, he got creative and worked on friends’ computers using a repair manual he’d asked for one Christmas. As a young professional, Craig worked at Bluefield College and AT&T where he was able to continue to grow and hone his technology skills.  Mr. Earls returned to SWCC to participate in the first “Fast Track” program for advanced computer science in 2006, which was developed learning Graduating with honors, he was hired by CGI, and continues as a Manager of Consulting Services for the company.

Giving back to the community is an important part of Craig’s life.  He previously served as a board member & President for the Richlands Little League for many years and has coached several youth and high school sports teams.  Mr. Earls currently serves on the Richlands Industrial Development Authority and Richlands Recreation Commission, and has several hobbies, including: fishing, Nascar races, concerts and cryptocurrency mining.  Craig and his wife Sabrina, have been married for 19 years, and have 2 children - Lauren and CJ.


Hall of Fame

At Southwest, we are proud of our alumni.  Many have achieved notable success and are serving their local communities, state, and country through good deeds and extraordinary contributions.  The Southwest Alumni Hall of Fame inducts the most distinguished of these individuals for their outstanding achievement, community service, and commitment to Southwest Virginia Community College. With these awards, we aim to acknowledge and honor them, share their stories, and inspire the entire Southwest community.



Distinguished Alumni Award

Our highest-esteemed award.  Presented at commencement, the Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the distinctive accomplishments of a Southwest Virginia Community College alumni for their overall achievements, honors, leadership and innovation, impact, mentoring, service, and commitment to their community, as well as their loyalty to their alma mater.

Outstanding Community Service Award

The Outstanding Community Service Award is presented to alumni who have shown outstanding commitment and dedication to a community service or humanitarian cause and have made a significant contribution of leadership or service which has improved or enriched the lives of others and their community.

Outstanding Achievement Award

The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishment and exemplary contributions to their chosen profession or discipline.

Rising Alumni Award

The Rising Alumni Award is given to current or recent students of the last 5 years who have demonstrated early career and/or exceptional community service achievement. Who also regularly demonstrate their Flying Eagle pride through recruiting potential students, representing Southwest in a positive manner, attending Southwest events, and encouraging active support of Southwest Virginia Community College among their peer groups.



To nominate an individual for an alumni award, we ask that you complete our online nomination form below. Before doing so, please review the award categories above, as this will help guide you in submitting your nomination.

Unless otherwise noted, nominations will be accepted from community members as well as Southwest faculty and staff who are interested in recognizing a person of notable achievement. Nominees should not be related to the person making the nomination. Self-nominations are not accepted.

Four total awards will be made each year. The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented annually at commencement; a Southwest employee cannot be nominated for this award.  All other categories will be awarded annually provided that sufficient quality nominations are received. All awards are bestowed at the discretion of the Southwest Alumni Association Committee and the Vice President of Institutional Advancement.  Individuals may be awarded in a category other than originally nominated, if deemed appropriate by the committee.

Nominations are accepted via online submission year-round. Those not chosen for awards will be kept on file for consideration for the next year. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted.  You may be contacted for additional information if necessary.

All award recipients must be willing to work collaboratively with Southwest in our efforts to properly recognize honorees, by providing photographs, biographies, and other information.

Nominees should be responsible, respectable citizens of good character and in good standing with the community.


Use this form to make your nominations for the Annual Distinguished Alumni Award and/or Hall of Fame Honors. You may nominate more than one person for each type of recognition.Thank you!
  • Your Contact Information
  • Your Nominee: Please include as much of this information as possible about the person you nominate .