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Memorial Day Closure

TCC will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

Kudos to TCC’s Fall Class of 2020

Four days before Christmas, Tidewater Community College celebrated its 71st Fall Commencement Exercises virtually.

The full stream of the ceremony is available here.

“This celebration demonstrates the tenacity and strength of our students and the TCC community,” said TCC President Marcia Conston, presiding over her second virtual commencement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Conston acknowledged the college’s military-related students, who make up one-third of enrollment and she commended the faculty and staff for their role in student success. Several faculty and staff members also recorded “shoutout” videos offering their congratulations to the 1,206 graduates.

Many applauded the resilience of the graduates to complete their journeys despite the pandemic.  Faculty members from the ESL Department congratulated the students in multiple languages.

The ceremony featured two student speakers — Grace Motley, a Women’s Center STEM Promise Program scholar, who received her Associate of Science in Computer Science and Joseph Baca, who earned his Associate of Science in Social Sciences.

“I cannot even begin to describe the many life lessons I have learned, and I am sure I am not alone,” said Motley, who thanked the professors and STEM Promise Program coordinator Jaedda Hall who helped her complete her degree.

Baca embraced the “community” part of being a TCC student, acknowledging his peers, professors and faculty members for helping him persevere. “Know there is no timetable on experience in life, but we must have the courage to face it,” he said.

Michelle Woodhouse, TCC’s vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer, presented the 1,026 graduates. President Conston conferred the degrees.

Prior to the ceremony concluding with a benediction, alumna Rickkita Taylor, recently a guest on “Ellen,” welcomed the college’s newest graduates to join an alumni network that is more than 100,000 strong.

“We are embedded in the fabric of Hampton Roads and are so proud of you for persevering and finishing strong,” she said. “I encourage you to take advantage of your achievement by attending networking events and embracing all the opportunities offered by TCC Alumni to “connect, contribute and celebrate!’ ”

All graduates had their names and corresponding degrees or certificates scroll on screen.

Northam visits Skilled Trades Academy for bill signing

Tidewater Community College’s Skilled Trade Academy was the backdrop for Gov. Ralph Northam’s visit to Hampton Roads on Wednesday morning. Northam signed two bills that enhance worker protections with measures that increase the minimum wage, ban workplace discrimination and combat worker misclassification and wage theft.

“It’s great to be back in Portsmouth,” said Northam, whose message touted the importance of workers. “When we invest in Virginians who are preparing for a job, seeking to learn a new skill for a promotion or wanting to change career paths, we’re investing in Virginia’s economy.”

The Skilled Trades Academy offers short term training in the maritime and construction industry; Northam participated in the academy’s grand opening in December 2019.

President Conston at the Skilled Trades Academy

“We are truly honored you chose TCC’s Skilled Trade Academy for your event this morning,” said TCC President Marcia Conston. “We are excited you are here.”

This wasn’t Northam’s first visit to the Skilled Trades Academy, a 20,000 square-foot facility that offers short-term training in the maritime and construction industry that opened in December 2018. In May 2019, he toured the facility, met with students and signed bill HB2020, which called for Virginia’s Community Colleges to create uniform instruction for registered apprenticeships in high-demand fields.

“I remember well when I was here just a little more than a year ago,” he said.

Several state legislators were in attendance on Wednesday to champion both bills, which include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour incrementally by 2026. Among them: Del. Cliff Hayes (D-Chesapeake), Chief Workforce Development Officer Megan Healy, Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth), Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-Dale City), Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe, Sen. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) and (Del. Jeion Ward (D-Hampton).

“Virginia’s best asset is our workers,” Healy said. “We are in a little bit of an economic slump, but I know our workers and our skilled talent is really what’s going to help this economy rebound.”

President Conston talks with Gov. Northam.

Navigating unprecedented times and uncharted waters

Dear TCC Family,

On Sunday, we remembered the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach.  While I was not here during that tragic time, I mourned the loss of those 12 individuals killed in a senseless act of violence. 

Just last week, we witnessed another tragedy in our nation, the death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis. Like many of you, I am horrified by the circumstances surrounding his death. The outrage of so many spilling into our streets, manifesting into both peaceful protests and violence, speaks to the hurt, anger and confusion in our communities.  Collectively, their voices seem as one, crying out for solace, calmness and resolution.

Mr. Floyd’s death occurred in the midst of a pandemic, COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of more than 377,000 worldwide, 104,000 nationwide, and approaching 1,400 in our own state. Along with the staggering deaths totals, this relentless virus has devastated our social, economic, political and educational systems. We are truly navigating unprecedented times and treading in unchartered waters.  

Coming to this community a mere five months ago, I was impressed by your willingness to move this college forward with new leadership and a renewed focus on student success. In mid-March, I again applauded your tenacity to transition to remote learning and teleworking in response to COVID-19. I continue to be inspired by your dedication to tirelessly serving our institution and students. Your resilience is undeniable. 

As President of Tidewater Community College – our institution – I encourage each of you to stand with one another during these difficult days. Know that I support you, and I urge you to support each other. Reach out to your colleagues, your friends and mentors. We might be physically distant, but we are together. Talk to one another, and just as important, listen to each other.  For those in need, support services are available to help. 

My message to each of you is one of profound compassion, hope and expectation for brighter days.  Change is long overdue and frustratingly slow, but I am confident that circumstances will improve. As an institution of higher education, we remain committed to dispelling bigotry and modeling inclusivity.

I stand beside you in solidarity, with an unwavering resolve to foster a learning environment that is safe, healthy and welcoming for all.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marcia Conston
President
Tidewater Community College

Governor tours Regional Health Professions Center to tout G3 initiative

On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam observed Tidewater Community College respiratory therapy student Taylor Moneypenny inflate a pig lung, which has an anatomical structure similar to that of a human. In an ambulance bay, Northam listened to a bleeding man writhing in pain while emergency medical service students tended to his injuries. He watched diagnostic medical sonography students complete sonograms on their peers using state-of-the-art equipment.

President Conston and Gov. Northam

His hour-long tour of TCC’s Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus provided an up-close glimpse of students preparing for careers in health care, one of five in-demand areas included in an initiative in his proposed budget before the General Assembly. The “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative, dubbed G3, proposes a free community college education in incentivized areas for students who meet certain income requirements.

The other fields are skilled trades, information technology, early childhood education and public safety, but health care is the primary focus.

“Health-care systems are craving for your talent,” Gov. Northam told students afterward during informal remarks before TCC President Marcia Conston; Megan Healy, chief workforce development advisor in the governor’s office; and representatives from Sentara Health and Bon Secours, two of the college’s regional partners. “There’s not enough people to fill these much-needed jobs. What we’re trying to do at the state level is to really open up what I call that classroom-to-career pipeline and train individuals for these 21st-century jobs.”

Because of the governor’s background in health care – he worked as a pediatric neurologist prior to being elected in 2017 – he was able to appreciate the hands-on learning inside the 6,500-square-foot Regional Health Professions Center. “I almost want to get in here and get my hands dirty,” he quipped. He was particularly awestruck by the scene in the ambulance bay, as authentic-looking “blood” leaked from a surgical cut suit.

But mainly Northam wanted to stress his commitment to what’s been called a gamechanger. G3 would boost funding to Virginia’s Community Colleges by $145 million over the next two budget years and enable an estimated 39,000 low- and moderate-income Virginians to enroll without cost in the targeted programs.

“We are excited about G3,” President Conston told the governor, pumping her fist. “We are poised to get students trained so they can be competitive in the workforce.”

Gov. Northam with Taylor Moneypenny

TCC offers associate and certificate programs in all of the targeted areas.

G3 eligibility would be established by students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). G3 funds would make up the difference between what financial aid pays for and the cost of tuition, fees, and books for the program.

In response to a student question, Gov. Northam stressed the importance of wraparound services, noting academics are typically not the reason students drop out of community college. “It’s because of affordability,” he said.

Healy said students who attend college full time under the G3 program and are awarded a full Pell Grant would receive an additional $1,000 grant per semester in support of expenses that include food and childcare.

“We want to make sure that all Virginians have access to attending a community college without incurring a lot of extra debt,” Gov. Northam said. “That’s the G3 program and that’s why we’re here today.”

TCC delegation advocates for G3 at General Assembly

College Board Chair Cindy Free and President Marcia Conston led a contingent of 16 Tidewater Community College representatives to the General Assembly on Jan. 29 to press the case for G3, Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature program to put community college within reach of more Virginians.

G3 stands for “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back.” The governor’s $145 million budget proposal would provide “last-dollar” funding for low- and middle-income students who are eligible for in-state tuition, have applied for federal and state student aid, and are pursuing an education in one of five areas key to the state’s economic development: IT/computer science, health care, public safety, skilled trades and early childhood education.

“If this program is approved by the General Assembly as part of the state budget, it would be a gamechanger,” said President Conston. “We estimate eligible TCC students would number in the thousands.”

Anna Mae Taborn, a student at the Portsmouth Campus, is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology, one of the eligible programs, and she hopes to become a beneficiary. But she said the trip to Richmond benefitted her in another way.

“With the knowledge of the program, I can push it to others who should take advantage of it,” she said.

Aspen Roadcap, a Chesapeake Campus student majoring in liberal arts and business administration, told legislators that she sees her friends struggle with rent and bills while working multiple jobs to pay tuition. “This would help them concentrate on college,” she said.

Meeting with nearly 20 legislators over a few hours, members of the TCC contingent said they encountered little opposition to the budget proposal. “It’s a bipartisan issue,” said Board Chair Free.

The TCC representatives were introduced from the floor of the Senate by Sen. John Cosgrove of Chesapeake, who graduated with an engineering degree from TCC before attending Old Dominion University. “Hopefully my story truly embodies the TCC motto, ‘From Here, Go Anywhere,’ ” he said. He offered a special welcome to President Conston as she takes the helm of “my beloved institution.”

Norfolk Campus student Caroline Conlon said she went to the General Assembly not knowing what to expect. “I was interested to see the process,” she said.

For Norfolk Campus student Shaniqua Hall, “I was so honored to be meeting very important people and having them hear my story. I was happy to be here.”

Also representing TCC were board members Jerome Bynum, Bill Crow, Mark Hugel, Delceno Miles and Andy Tysinger; Educational Foundation Board member Paul Battaglia and Executive Director Steven Jones; Corey McCray, interim executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs and vice president for Workforce Solutions; Emanuel Chestnut, interim Norfolk Campus provost; and Marian Anderfuren, vice president for communications.

A Top 10 look at a year to remember at TCC

A new president, a professor gone viral and a celebration of generous donors and collaborative partnerships are among a year of highlights for Tidewater Community College in 2019.

Check out our TCC Top 10 list of storylines that made a mark.

10. The college’s Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses celebrated their first-generation students, faculty and administrators in events held in early November. The days were selected to coincide with the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Celebrating first-generation college students.

9. Thanks to a partnership between TCC and Chesapeake Public Schools, 52 high school graduates earned career and technical training credentials during May commencement in areas that range from mechatronics to pharmacy technology to welding.

8. TCC received a fifth federal grant to help train military veterans and their spouses for careers in trucking. The grant, administered by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education, allows veterans to train for in-demand careers at no cost to them.

7. A partnership among TCC, Hampton Roads Transit and Norfolk Now to prepare Hampton Roads residents for careers as bus operators launched in May and graduated its inaugural class in the fall. A second cohort is under way.

The first cohort of HRT graduates

6. Mayor Rick West joined the Nov. 18 celebration for the opening of the new robotics lab on the Chesapeake Campus. The lab contains six state-of-the-art Fuji Automatic Numerical Control robots and training stations.

5. TCC will continue to grow in the next decade thanks to several generous donors. The TCC Perry Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management received a major gift from philanthropist Jim Hixon. A $500,000 grant from TowneBank will also benefit the TCC Perry Center and help expand the Regional Automotive Center. The Hampton Roads Community Foundation gave the TCC Perry Center a $500,000 grant spread over five years. Stanley Black & Decker earned the Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy for its support of the Skilled Trades Academy. Black & Decker donated $275,000 in new industry tools and equipment, the biggest in-kind investment by the company ever in the commonwealth. The SunTrust Foundation’s $75,000 grant will support the Skilled Trades Academy. Builders & Contractors Exchange funded $5,000 in scholarships for the academy. The Don Carey REECH Foundation also gifted TCC’s Women’s Center STEM Promise Program with $2,500.

Jim Hixon provided a generous gift for the TCC Perry Center.

4. It’s never been easier to transfer from TCC to Old Dominion University or Virginia Wesleyan University. The Guaranteed Transfer Partnership Agreement, signed in September, ensures a seamless transfer to ODU for TCC graduates. The Fair Transfer Guarantee Agreement between VWU and TCC allows graduates who earn arts or science associate degrees to enter VWU as juniors.

3. TCC put into action plans to eliminate food insecurity among its students. The college and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore are new partners in a five-year initiative to eliminate the food insecurity that impedes many TCC students from completing their higher education. TowneBank’s $250,000 donation will go toward the food. A Campus-Based Pantry and Food Scholarship Program are in the works and a mobile pantry on the Norfolk and Portsmouth campuses started in the fall. In addition, a partnership between the Virginia Beach Campus and the city’s Department of Human Services gives TCC counselors and advisers a streamlined way to refer Virginia Beach students to the resources they need. Students can receive food, mental health counseling and housing support.

Physics Professor David Wright went viral.

2. Student Erica Church’s tweet on the animated teaching style of Professor David Wright made a big bang. The viral post, viewed by more than 30 million people, created headlines around the world and led to the beloved physics professor granting interviews to Yahoo, the BBC, NPR and Good Morning America. He and students Church and Kierra Brothers will appear on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on Jan. 26.

1. Welcome, President Conston! The college’s sixth permanent president, hired Oct. 15, assumed the role on Jan. 6, 2020.

Savoring milestones at the 69th Fall Commencement

The week before Christmas, Tidewater Community College celebrated its newest graduates at the 69th Fall Commencement Exercises at Chartway Arena inside Norfolk’s Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The evening graduation on Dec. 16 was the final one presided over by interim President Gregory T. DeCinque. Marcia Conston, sitting in the stands with her husband, Clidell and daughter Mahari, will assume the presidency on Jan. 6, 2020.

TCC President Gregory DeCinque with keynote speaker Scott Miller, president of Virginia Wesleyan University,

“We look forward to your leadership and dedication to TCC’s mission,” President DeCinque said.

In addition, President DeCinque asked for applause for physics Professor David Wright, a viral video sensation over the last few days thanks to a student tweet with 25 million views and counting.

“David, you clearly love what you do, and you convey that passion to your students. You are one of the many TCC faculty worth the price of admission,” DeCinque quipped.

The speaker for the graduates, Lauren Lewis, just 18, has already completed an Associate of Science in Social Sciences. Recipient of the Outstanding High School Graduate Award, she entered TCC with 16 credits thanks to taking dual enrollment classes while in high school.

“You can’t underestimate what you are capable of,” said Lewis, who graduated from Churchland High at age 16. “To me, TCC has contributed to that mindset, and I am sure that is true for most of us.

“With TCC as your foundation, you can go anywhere!”

Lewis’ “anywhere” is Norfolk State University. She plans to be a pediatric nurse.

Keynote speaker Scott Miller, the president of Virginia Wesleyan University, urged the graduates to savor the evening’s moment.

“The hours upon hours you pored over books and laptops after working all day or all night have all been worth it,” he said. “Take a deep breath and sigh of relief.”

Miller told the graduates “You’re highly motivated critical thinkers, leaders and learners. You’re generators of good ideas and perceptive insights. You love your 757 community and contribute to it in many ways. We’re inspired by your example of hard work and commitment to ambition and success.”

Miller echoed what Lewis said, “From here, you truly can go anywhere. It’s my sincere hope that I’ll see you there soon.”

As families and friends cheered and snapped photos, graduates crossed the stage and joined a TCC alumni network of 100,000 and counting.  

If you missed graduation, watch the TCC livestream here.