Jeff Sinclair: Army veteran thriving at Laurel Ridge, even after degree ‣ Laurel Ridge Community College
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Jeff Sinclair: Army veteran thriving at Laurel Ridge, even after degree

Jeff Sinclair
Laurel Ridge veteran academic advisor/school certifying official Sharon Painter and student Jeff Sinclair.

After serving in the U.S. Army for 15 years, Jeff Sinclair turned to Laurel Ridge when it was time to start a new chapter.

A Green Beret, Sinclair was deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan twice. He served from 2002 to 2017, retiring as a sergeant first class. With his father, grandfather and uncles in the military, Sinclair grew up knowing he would enlist, too.

He was attracted to Laurel Ridge because it was near his home in Winchester. At first, Sinclair thought he wanted to get a degree in cybersecurity, but soon realized that wasn’t for him. Instead realizing he had a strong affinity for math, he pursued an associate of science degree in science with an engineering specialization, graduating this past spring. He also earned a general education certificate.

“Professor [Sam] Dillender, my chemistry professor was amazing,” Sinclair said. “Physics Professor Ray Rogers is also amazing. I had all my engineering classes with Professor Bill Lewis. He was very thorough in the way he teaches, very personable. Laurel Ridge blows four-year universities out of the water. I really like the small class sizes.”

He has also been very appreciative of the help he has received from Laurel Ridge veteran academic advisor/school certifying official Sharon Painter, and he has enjoyed using the Veterans Center, where student veterans can do free printing, grab coffee, and receive advising.

“I’m not afraid to reach out to Mrs. Painter for anything,” Sinclair said.

While at the college, Sinclair has benefited from the Jeffery L. Ross Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

Even though he has earned his associate degree – and certificate – Sinclair isn’t done with Laurel Ridge. This fall, he is taking physics and calculus courses on the Middletown Campus while simultaneously attending the University of North Dakota online for his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. At UND, he can livestream the classes or watch the videos later. Sinclair will have to travel to North Dakota a couple of times for labs next summer.

Sinclair has chosen this remote option so he can remain close to his children, rather than moving to Blacksburg to attend Virginia Tech, or commuting to George Mason University.

“Everything that I’ve taken at Laurel Ridge has transferred 100 percent,” Sinclair said. “I’m happy to be here. It’s a great experience. I will be returning as long as I can take classes here towards my degree.”

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s veterans services at

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.