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From around the world, across the states to TCC graduate

Veteran Paul Cage traveled the world during his 22-year Navy career and then transitioned to driving a tractor-trailer across all 50 states. Weary of the travel, he longed for a future where he would be at home more, and he found it by completing his associate degree at Tidewater Community College.

Now he plans to make your home more inviting as an interior designer. Cage, student speaker for the 67th Fall Commencement Exercises, graduates with an Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design and a Career Studies Certificate in Associate Designer.

“I was at a VA seminar and the rep suggested the TCC program, and at that time I thought it was just decorating,” said Cage, who also holds career studies certificates in associate designer and truck driving. “But it’s a totally different ball of wax. I was watching a lot of those house-flipping shows and they were making places functional. That’s a lot of what we do in interior design.”

Cage, who used his GI Bill® benefits for his education, plans to launch Stylyn Creative design in Chesapeake after graduation.

His degree included a seminar class that involved working with instructor Ron Austin to complete a whole house design. “That was a definite highlight for me,” he said. “I learned that it’s important to measure, measure, measure. If you’re off even an inch, that’s a big problem.”

Cage works with classmate Sheila Land on her final project..
Cage works with classmate Sheila Land on her final project.

“Paul fully engaged himself as a career-changer, and added to classroom discussions and provided assistance to classmates as needed,” said Jennifer Hopkins, program head for interior design. “His leadership and professionalism were always on display.”

Cage graduates with his wife, Sherrilyn Olds-Cage. She earned an Associate of Science in Social Sciences and plans a career in social work. She is already at Old Dominion University, studying toward her bachelor’s in psychology.

“I really surprised myself being able to complete this degree after being out of school for 20 years,” Olds-Cage said. “Initially I was really stressed, but once I got my rhythm, I found I was a better student now than as a young adult.”

Both graduates agree that TCC instructors are invested in their students. “Interior Design is one big family,” Cage said.

Paul and his wife, Sherrilyn Olds-Cage.
Paul and his wife, Sherrilyn Olds-Cage.

The couple has a blended family with four children: Dezmen Cage, 26; Dedra Olds, 17; Solé Cage, 17; and Paul Cage Jr., 16.

In his speech, Cage will encourage his classmates to face adversity and turn it into the fuel to motivate them. He said, “Don’t think you have to have it all figured out, but change course if need be. And always measure twice!”

It’s one thing to decorate. It’s another to design. Learn how at TCC

Is your Pinterest feed flooding with the latest home design trends? Do you have an eye for color and space planning? If so, a career in interior design may be the perfect fit for you.

Complete Tidewater Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design and you’ll be ready to enter the field with an impressive portfolio and sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam.

Enhance your creative and technical skills on your time

It’s one thing to decorate. It’s another to design. TCC’s program teaches you the creative skills to design commercial and residential spaces and master the technical side using the latest computer-aided design software.

Lana Sapozhnikov chats with a student in the interior design lab on the Chesapeake Campus.
Lana Sapozhnikov (left) chats with one of her students in IDS 100.

“The best part about the program is that it is really diverse,” said Lana Sapozhnikov, interior design instructor at the Chesapeake Campus. “The introduction class really teaches students the whole process of design from start to finish. It explains to them all the things that they will encounter in the real world.”

Part of the program includes working with real clients. You won’t just read about designing. You’ll actually do it!

“A lot of students fresh out of the program – or even before they graduate – are able to start their own businesses because of the portfolio they build at TCC,” Sapozhnikov said. “We had a student who designed a plastic surgeon’s office before she graduated. There’s just a lot of options for students when they are going through the program.”

Interior Design Alumna Whitney Regan
TCC alumna Whitney Regan

“This program has opened so many doors for me,” said Whitney Regan, who earned her Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design in 2014. “I do home staging, work with design clients and even real estate.”

In addition to the two-year degree, TCC’s program offers specialized career studies certificates in associate designer, kitchen and bath design and green design for interiors.

Added bonus: Day, evening and online classes accommodate your busy schedule.

Learn from seasoned pros

TCC’s interior design faculty actually work in the field and have the scoop on transforming the spaces where we work, play and live.

TCC interior design student Stephanie Adams
Stephanie Adams, interior design student

“The professors are really helpful in terms of teaching practical skills that are used every single day in the profession,” said student and career switcher Stephanie Adams.

“I chose TCC’s interior design program because I wanted to make sure I had experience with real professionals,” Regan said. “I did my research on the professors who taught the program before enrolling and they had great reviews.”

“TCC is wonderful because the professors and instructors have a wide variety of experiences. They can give real-life examples. Student really benefit from that,” Sapozhnikov said.

Words of wisdom

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Adams advised.

If you’re interested in the program, contact Jennifer Hopkins, program head for interior design, at or 757-822-5183.