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Alumna Spotlight: Renee Vaden

Mar 11, 2024
Renee Vaden, RCC Class of 1982
Renee Vaden, who works for the Western Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, earned her Associate in Science in Business from Rockingham Community College in 1982.

MADISON – Renee Vaden sits on a comfortable sofa in the bright office of the downtown Western Rockingham Chamber of Commerce and takes a deep breath. As administrative assistant of the Chamber, she and Executive Director Mavis Dillon just returned from running their monthly coffee gathering, this time at Bojangles on N.C. 135.

Vaden has worked for the Chamber for two years.

“I keep Mavis organized, manage the office, set up window displays, do Facebook posts, organize meetings, keep minutes, keep up with member payments, and enter all the data for new members,” she said. “We work together to see how we can better promote our members.”

Vaden’s roots run deep in Western Rockingham. Born and raised on River Road in Stoneville, she has spent her entire life in Rockingham County. As she approached graduation from Madison-Mayodan High School in 1980, with her boyfriend David already enrolled in a Raleigh business school, she visited four-year colleges.

“He decided it wasn’t for him, so he came back and joined his family’s business,” she said. David proposed as soon as she graduated, so she stayed local.

“Rockingham Community College was a perfect choice. My parents didn’t go to college, and I wanted that opportunity,” Vaden said. “A lot of my classmates were going there, and we carpooled.”

During her first year at RCC, she and David married. She continued her education, earning her Associate in Applied Science in Business in 1982.

Vaden held up her right hand, where a gold ring sparkled around an oval onyx stone – her class ring from RCC, featuring the old college insignia, her degree, and her initials.

“I wore it every day for 18 years, until I started getting other jewelry,” she said. “I always get compliments on it.”

After college, Vaden worked as office manager for Emory Joyce at State Farm Insurance in Mayodan. She then spent three years working for Jefferson Pilot Insurance in Greensboro. She spent another 33 years at Energy United, during which she took night classes at RCC in the late 1990s to learn more about computers, PowerPoint and keyboarding.

“RCC’s continuing education is wonderful,” she said, adding that she also learned a hobby by taking a quilting class.

When she retired from Energy United, she joined the Chamber staff.

Even after all this time, Vaden fondly remembers her years at RCC – which echoes what current students and recent graduates say.

“It was a good fit for me. It was like an extension of high school… it was bigger, but not overwhelming. The classes were a good size for more individualized assistance,” she said. “The Student Center was a nice place to hang out between classes, and RCC had resources like the library and class materials we needed.”

And invaluable resources are just what Vaden – and Dillon – provide to the members of the Western Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.

“For the Chamber, we need to be something that’s worth being a part of. How do you become that?” Vaden said. “It’s the same thing at the College. You’ve got to be what people want. I just think community college is fantastic for the money you spend to go.

“RCC is such a great place, especially for skilled workers like electricians and HVAC… that’s where the future is. They can make over $100,000 a year easily. You just have to get your hands dirty and know what you’re doing. Community college is a great place for that, because you can’t do that at a four-year college,” Vaden said.

~By Gerri Hunt, RCC Director of Public Information


Rockingham Community College
PO Box 38
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375


Monday to Thursday:
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm


336-349-9986 (fax)