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First STIHL Scholar found more than he expected at TCC

Thomas “Tommy” Floyd Babcock has a solid future, thanks to STIHL Inc.

As the first STIHL Scholar, Babcock received a $5,000 award to cover tuition and books for his second year at TCC. “It means a lot to me to be recognized by a company like STIHL,” he said.

Virginia Beach-based STIHL Inc., which manufactures an array of outdoor power equipment, established the scholarship this year.

Babcock, a 2013 graduate of Great Bridge High School, is a second-year engineering student at TCC’s Chesapeake Campus. He holds a 4.0 GPA and credits TCC engineering faculty members Stephen Ezzell and William Simmons, as well as Doug Thiele, English professor, for his academic success.

“I came to TCC because of finances, but I’ve gained so much more,” Babcock said. “Being able to talk with my professors after class and becoming part of this tight-knit community have been so beneficial. I don’t think I would have found this anywhere else.”

Babcock has always enjoyed higher level math and engineering concepts, but his high school GPA did not reflect his academic abilities.

“I didn’t apply myself in history, English and the classes that didn’t interest me,” he said. “My professors at TCC have made these subjects come alive and even taught me to write essays, like the one that helped me land the STIHL Scholarship.”

During his time at the college, Babcock became a member of the Engineering Club on the Virginia Beach Campus. “I enjoyed the activities and camaraderie, but found it difficult to get to meetings at the Beach and then back to Chesapeake for class,” he said. “I’m proud to say that beginning this fall, we have a club of our own.”

Babcock is the founding president of the Science and Technology Club at Chesapeake Campus. “It’s a great group, and we are planning a lot of interesting hands-on activities,” he said.

He also serves as a senator for the Student Government Association at the Chesapeake Campus and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for students at two-year colleges. He works in the Learning Assistance Center, tutoring peers in chemistry, physics, engineering and math.

“I really like helping people,” Babcock said. “It’s a win-win situation because when I help someone learn, I also solidify my own understanding of the concepts.”

The first in his family to go to college, Babcock said it means a lot to him to be able to make his family proud. “I’m really grateful for my time here,” he added.

After TCC, Babcock has set his sights on Stanford University or Cornell University, noting, “My time here has shown me that I have what it takes to be successful and that means everything.”

To apply for the STIHL scholarship, students must complete an application, which includes a short essay outlining their interest in advanced manufacturing and related courses of study, and reflect career goals. To apply, visit