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Haroleen Ray, Sam Coppage, Jason Elliott


SOUTH HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (March 31, 2009) – Celebrating the dream and life of Martin Luther King Jr., Tidewater Community College has given awards to three individuals who exemplify the civil rights leader’s goals.

The award recipients are:

~ Portsmouth resident Haroleen Ray, dean of student services/TCC Portsmouth Campus – TCC Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Distinguished Service Award

~ Norfolk resident Samuel F. Coppage Jr., associate professor of information technology/Old Dominion University – TCC Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Distinguished Service Award

~ Chesapeake resident, student Jason Elliott – TCC Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship recipient

Haroleen Ray joined TCC in 1970 as the first African American psychology instructor and soon became the college’s first African American female counselor, beginning her advancement through the ranks of the Student Services division at the Portsmouth Campus to become its dean of student services. Among her many successes, she began TCC’s Dual Enrollment Program with Portsmouth Public Schools in 1996 and has been devoted to her community, serving on numerous boards and civic organizations. As president of the Portsmouth Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she led award-winning efforts to register new voters. She helped found the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast and she serves on the governing board of Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia and on the advisory board of the Portsmouth Department of Social Services.

Haroleen Ray with plaque, flanked by President DiCroce, far right, TCC Board Chair Dorcas Helfant-Browning, left, and student presenter Michael Hill

Samuel Coppage followed a stint in the New York business world with a return to Norfolk to join the faculty of Old Dominion University where he directs the graduate program in computer science-information technology. He has contributed to the welfare of his community and society in many ways including helping to preserve and edit the papers of his father, Dr. Samuel F. Coppage Sr., a prominent Norfolk dentist and community and civil rights leader. The papers are part of the Virginia Black History Archives held at Virginia Commonwealth University; the collection covers his father’s civic and professional activities in Norfolk from the 1920s to the 1970s. He is working to enhance the ability to search ODU’s collection of artifacts from Virginia’s Massive Resistance period. A member of the Broad Creek Civic League, he served as a liaison with the federally-funded Hope VI Project. He has been a governing board member of the Feldman Chamber Music Society, the Tidewater AIDS Task Force and the Norfolk Sister City Association. He was one of the first life-members of the Youth Branch of the NAACP. Today, he represents the city of Norfolk on the Tidewater Community College Board.

Sam Coppage with plaque flanked by President DiCroce, far right, TCC Board Chair Dorcas Helfant-Browning, left, and student presenter Michael Hill

Jason Elliott, a 2007 high-honors graduate from Portsmouth Christian School, has risen to student leadership roles at TCC. In October 2008, he was selected to serve as a Virginia Community College System representative on the Student Advisory Committee for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. At the first meeting, he was elected by his peers to serve as the first-ever committee chair from a community college. Active in student life at TCC, he has served as a senator and treasurer of the Chesapeake Campus Student Government Association (SGA) and, in May, he will become SGA president. He serves in many student clubs including the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, and Circle K International. In addition to being an honor student he has worked on campus for the provost since January 2008.

Jason Elliott with his parents

TCC presented the awards at a dinner held March 27. With music, a multimedia montage and speakers, the evening celebrated Dr. King’s teachings, the success in electing the first African American president of the United States and the three exemplary citizens who embody King’s principles.


Laurie White
Media Relations

Celebrating its 40th year, Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of higher education and Workforce Solutions services in Hampton Roads - enrolls nearly 40,000 students and has the second largest undergraduate student body in Virginia. The 23rd highest producer of associate degrees in the nation, and the 35th largest community college, TCC is among the 20 fastest-growing large two-year institutions in the United States. Founded in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System, the college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk’s theater district, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth and a regional Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-six percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information, visit