When Frank Dixon started at Tidewater Community College, he planned to go to work or go home when his classes were over for the day.
Instead, he hung around, and he’s glad he did.
“I don’t have the capacity to just sit by,” said Dixon, who will deliver the student address at TCC’s May 16 commencement exercises at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. “I have to be involved. In order for a college student to be truly successful, they can’t be someone who just shows up to class. You miss out on 75 percent of what college is.”
Dixon, who earned his Associate of Science in Engineering last May, graduates with a Certificate in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design. For the past year, he has attended TCC and Old Dominion University concurrently. He plans to complete his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering with minors in aerospace engineering and modeling and simulation by December 2016.
A background in technical drawing made him a natural to help the TCC Engineering Club with Canstruction’s “Take a slice out of hunger” campaign. TCC’s entry, “Missing Supper,” which featured thousands of cans and dry goods depicting a resting Snoopy atop his familiar doghouse, took top honors. Dixon’s business experience led him to take over as club treasurer, then vice president and finally president.
Because he enjoyed Model United Nations in high school, he sought out TCC’s Student Government Association, advancing from senator to president pro tem of the Virginia Beach Senate and recently completed a second term as campus president. He also served as chair of the college-wide Student Government Federation Council.
In addition, Dixon has been a regular on TCC’s legislative trips to the General Assembly to advocate for increased community college funding. He is also active in the community garden near his family home in Cradock and in Create Portsmouth Now, a community group that promotes positive change in Portsmouth.
Frank Dixon in his own words
Dixon speaks of his mentors at the college fondly who range from TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani to the engineering faculty to numerous classmates who have taught him something along the way.
“Every encounter I’ve had at TCC, I try to take something from,” he said. “College is one of those unique places where you meet people from every conceivable background. You don’t get exposed to any of that if you don’t get involved on a campus. That exposure is an eye-opening and mind-opening experience. You realize the world view you had as a child doesn’t necessarily hold up.”
Dixon will share his perspective in his commencement speech that focuses on lessons learned. Among them – failing isn’t failure.
“If you try, I can guarantee you will fail at some point,” he said. “It’s what you do when you fail that determines failure.”
An aviation enthusiast who owns his own single-engine plane, Dixon hopes to work in aeronautical research or aircraft design. He celebrates his graduation with wife Carolyn and 6-year-old daughter Ella.