Ross Fellow Alexia Maynard offers advice for successful online learning

Alexia Maynard

For 2019-2020 Ross Fellowship for Service and Scholarship recipient Alexia Maynard, there were no glitches when it came to the college’s pivot to all-remote classes.

“I actually enjoyed it,” she said. “When all my classes transitioned to online, I didn’t have to drive to school for a few months, so it was nice to save gas money.”

Two of the three classes she had this summer were online classes to begin with. And, as she noted, she grew up in the internet era.

In fact, Maynard, who is graduating this spring with her associate of applied science degree in cybersecurity, centered her service project she did in conjunction with her scholarship to teaching others to become comfortable with computers.

Through the Ross Fellowship, Alexia’s full-time tuition expenses were covered for this academic year. The fellowship also provides $1,000 for textbooks and $750 for a technology purchase, such as a computer or tablet. After the successful completion of a service project, fellowship recipients receive a $1,000 stipend.  

For her service project, Maynard offered free basic computer training classes to community members and fellow Laurel Ridge students. She recruited some of her classmates to help teach the classes while also gaining valuable IT experience. 

“I learned a lot from offering the classes, especially how to be a better teacher,” Maynard said. “It gave me a better understanding of what I was learning in my own classes. Hopefully, those who came to the lessons learned something from me, too.”

Maynard, a 2018 Skyline High School graduate, is transferring to George Mason University to continue her cybersecurity studies.

“My transfer degree program goes right into GMU’s program,” she said. “All of my credits will transfer.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have declared Laurel Ridge a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education.

Maynard has some advice for those who are used to attending classes in person and are now making the transition to online learning.

“I would say, ‘Be patient,’” Maynard said. “I know when using technology, sometimes people have connectivity issues. I have the most success when I make a list of all the assignments I have to do, and then make a time-management schedule to ensure I get everything done on time.

“I would also distribute assignments throughout the week. That way I didn’t overwhelm myself, yet made sure I got something done each day.”

In high school Maynard was a promising mechanic. When she was a sophomore, she passed the industry-recognized Automotive Service Excellence Exam. She was the only first-year Blue Ridge Technical Center student to do so.

While still in high school, the National Honor Society member earned 28 college credits through Laurel Ridge’s dual-enrollment program. Those dual-enrollment classes, plus the affordability and proximity of Laurel Ridge, led Alexia to choose the college after high school graduation.

At Laurel Ridge, her favorite instructor has been James Allen, who teaches computer forensics.

“Instead of like a professor, he’s more like our dad,” Maynard said of Allen. “He always tried to make us smile. PowerPoint presentations can get boring sometimes, but he always made sure we were still paying attention. He genuinely cared about our grades, and if we were struggling, he would help us.”

Not only is Laurel Ridge close and affordable, the “one-on-one learning” made her experience at the college even better, she said.

To learn more about Laurel Ridge’s cybersecurity program, visit

Are you inspired by Maynard’s story? Would you like to help other students like her? Please consider making a gift to the Laurel Ridge Educational Foundation at