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Student Receives Culinary Program Scholarship

student receiving scholarship from donor.

(LEBANON, VA) The new culinary arts program at Southwest Virginia Community College is launching this fall and is ready to serve the region. Program head, Chef Stephen Gilbert and students from the college held a reception for prospective students and community members on Wednesday May 11, 2022 at Southwest’s Lebanon Center located inside the Government Center in Lebanon, VA. 

A meal was provided to those in attendance by current students enrolled in a culinary class the college offers. Students used the event to earn a grade based on their dish presentation. The Lebanon Center will be the home to most of the culinary classes the college will offer.

An emotional part of the evening was the presentation of a student scholarship. Heather Underwood, a student currently enrolled at Southwest, is the recipient of The John P. Seymore, III Culinary Scholarship. The scholarship is funded in honor of Seymore, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident on March 22, 2020. 

John’s mother, Susan Seymore, presented the award in memory of her son. John was raised in Damascus, VA and went on to open Mojo’s Trailside Cafe and Coffee.  Within five years, he transformed a small coffee shop into a widely acclaimed fine-dining restaurant. This scholarship in his honor represents John’s contributions to the culinary world by supporting local high school graduates in culinary education. 

Southwest’s goal is to create lifelong learning opportunities that unleash the vast potential in every student. Programs and services are learner-centered, outcome-focused, and designed to provide graduates with opportunities to improve their lives, prepare for further education and advance their careers.

To learn how to setup a scholarship to benefit future students at your local Community College here in southwest Virginia, contact Susan Lowe, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Educational Foundation at or call 276-964-7304.

To learn more about Southwest’s culinary program, please contact Chef Stephen Gilbert at You can also contact an advisor for help and assistance with registering for classes and exploring financial aid and scholarship opportunities at 276-964-7300.

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