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Starting here paved way for Norcom grad to reach her dream school

A week into her dream school, Markeil Blow realized she wasn’t ready to be there.

The Norcom High graduate missed home. She didn’t want to commit to the rigorous ROTC regimen for four years – and it was that scholarship that made attending George Washington University affordable in the first place.

Tidewater Community College was a solution that made sense academically and financially. Blow had already done well at TCC as part of the First College program. Plus it was an economical alternative that would allow her to save for her final two years of college.

Now the TCC graduate is back at GW, better equipped to handle living away from home. She has a financial plan in place to pay for the rest of college, and all of her credits from TCC transferred seamlessly.

“So I was able to start at GW as a junior,” she said. “I used to see the billboards when I was little and when I was in high school and they’d say, ‘TCC to anywhere,’ and I’d think, ‘You mean anywhere in Virginia.’ Now that I’m here, I realize they really do mean anywhere.”

Blow moved back home after that first week in Washington and stayed on track thanks to enrolling in TCC’s 12-week classes.

Early on, she struggled with the idea that she had given up on GW without giving it a chance.

Markeil Blow White House“Being on campus at TCC and getting to know other students and really getting into my classes changed my attitude quickly,” Blow said. “I took technical writing at the Beach Campus, and the class was so small. I felt like I could have a personal connection with everybody and make new relationships. These people didn’t know my past – didn’t know I had dropped out, so to speak.”

Initially, Blow planned to complete just one semester at TCC. “I put in applications at Old Dominion and William & Mary, but First College had given me such a head start, that I could do one more semester and be two years ahead.”

Blow’s second semester at TCC was especially challenging, given a Calculus II class that forced her to work directly with her professor and seek out help at the Learning Assistance Center.

“I had always been afraid to go to tutoring,” she said. “Now I’m in tutoring every day.”

Blow graduated from TCC in May with a 4.0 GPA and an Associate of Science with a Specialization in Computer Science.

The ceremony at the Ted Constant Convocation Center was special, she said.

“It felt really nice,” she said. “In high school, I graduated outside and all the other high schools graduated in the Ted. So it was nice to get that chance to walk in there.”

Blow, working on her bachelor’s in computer science, anticipates going for her master’s along with a doctorate in history and making a career in software design. She’s happy with how everything played out.

“I honestly wouldn’t trade going to TCC for anything,” she said. “I made some of my best friends there. It’s been a blessing.”

Hokie engineer with TCC roots bound for Taiwan

Kenneth Moody is a graduate of Virginia Tech’s engineering program headed for a transformative year in Taiwan.

His road started at Tidewater Community College.

Five years ago Moody was directionless until he started at TCC, where he worked his first job, met professors who remain mentors and graduated with an Associate of Science in Engineering.

“I had so much support at TCC – the support of just about every professor I had, which, if you think about it, is amazing,” Moody said. “The foundation and preparation I got were strong, without a doubt.”

Moody navigated hard times that began when his father lost his job the day after Kenneth graduated from Green Run High. The family lost their home and took refuge in a small car with little to eat beyond fast food and saltine crackers. A house in Portsmouth without heat, a refrigerator or furniture became home and the reality of an education became real when he visited the Portsmouth Campus.

Moody was a math whiz – imagine scoring a 5 on an AP calculus test – and financial aid covered his tuition. He became president of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, and reveled in tutoring struggling students at TCC’s Learning Assistance Center.

“That was the first job I ever had,” he said. “I never knew what it was like to communicate with coworkers and build that rapport and then, at the same time, I learned to communicate with students I was helping.”

Those were skills that he found immeasurably helpful at Virginia Tech, where initially he was stumped by a more formal environment with faculty than the community feel he found at TCC.

“I’m not that social and at Tech I learned I needed to take the initiative,” Moody said. “Once I started building relationships and networking, I was successful.”

Moody went to Tech with the intention of working as a mechanical engineer in automobile safety. He also pursued his love of languages by learning Mandarin Chinese, a skill he serendipitously realized could impact his career.

While completing a postgraduate summer research project in material science, he found his Mandarin skills useful in translating documents. When the opportunity arose to study Mandarin for a year at National Taiwan Normal University, Moody jumped at it. What he thought was little more than a hobby evolved into a marketable skill to potential employers with business ties abroad. A partial scholarship will help cover costs.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” Moody said.

Moody, who just arrived in Taipei, said TCC will always be special a special place for him, noting, “I definitely have TCC roots. There was so much going on around me when I was going to TCC. Going to class, I always had a cloud of doubt around me. The support TCC gives students is really invaluable.”