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“Don’t take your community college experience for granted because it will help you wherever you go”

Stephen Harris could have gone directly to Old Dominion University after graduating from Ocean Lakes High in 2008.

But he made the choice that made the most sense for him both academically and financially. He earned his Associate of Science in Business Administration from Tidewater Community College before transferring to ODU.

“It was definitely better for me,” said Harris, today a developer for CACI International, Inc., a multinational professional services and information technology company with an office in downtown Norfolk. “Financially it was easier because I was able to go to school and work. And it really did help prepare me to make the transition to ODU.

The small class size and one-on-one time with professors at TCC were pluses for Harris, who admittedly said he wasn’t overly confident out of high school and could have easily imagined himself getting overwhelmed had he headed directly to a four-year university.

“I know if I had not done my first two years at TCC, I don’t think I would have been as focused,” he said. “I’ve actually gone back to visit my professors more at TCC than at ODU.”

Harris said he benefitted from having all his credits from TCC transfer to ODU, and even had a bonus when the university accepted some of his electives toward his bachelor’s in information technology. He graduated from ODU in 2014 and is now working toward a master’s in computer science.

Harris believes the mix of business and computer science classes made his degree more valuable.

Eventually he would like to become a project manager or leader developer.

Harris considers TCC one of his two alma maters and remains grateful for the foundation it laid. He advises high school graduates to strongly consider earning an associate degree first.

“When I was at TCC, I actually completed a degree and got that sense of accomplishment with finishing something,” he said. “Don’t take your community college experience for granted because it will help you wherever you go.”     

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