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First generation alumna overcomes the odds to earn a second degree

A visit from a Tidewater Community College career coach resonated with Granby High student Alexis Knight.

Growing up in low-income housing, Knight didn’t plan on going to college. No one from her family ever had.

Today the 22-year-old is a TCC graduate working toward her bachelor’s in human services at Old Dominion University. She takes pride in that accomplishment, which included persevering after she became a mother during her time at TCC.

“I thought that would be the end of my education, but the people at TCC rallied around me, helped me make a plan to take a semester off, and then got me back on track with my degree,” said Knight, whose son, Kevin Jr., is 3. “My time at the college was transformative, and I grew so much. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without TCC.”

Alexis Knight
Knight enjoys helping people with her work at Sentara.

Knight’s family provided support and cared for the baby so she could continue her education. “My family rallied around me, they believed in me and encouraged me to do my very best,” she said.

Knight connected with Kia Hardy, interim dean of student services, who ensured she was on track to graduate in two years. Hardy directed Knight with support services from the Women’s Center and Learning Assistance Center.

“Ms. Hardy was pregnant at the time and seeing her working and getting ready for her child, well, that motivated me to do the same thing,” Knight said. “I’m extremely thankful to TCC for helping me grow and giving me the foundation to be successful.”

Knight, who earned her Associate of Science in Social Sciences in 2017, will graduate again in May from ODU. A social work intern for a Sentara rehabilitation center, Knight is hopeful that she will transition into a full-time patient advocate upon graduation.

Knight also works part-time at Walmart, where she promotes TCC to others. “I used to think less of myself until I found out that I could do this. No matter where you come from, or even if you have a child, you can do this.

“I feel like I’m paving the way for my son and nieces. I may have been the first in college, but I know I won’t be the last.”