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TCC graduate hopes to pay it forward with a human services degree

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, William Toncray was spending a lot of time at the hospital. As a Child Life department volunteer, Toncray provides engaging activities for patients at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

“We play games and do crafts with children bedside or take them to the playroom,” he said. “There are moments when it’s really hard to see kids so sick, but it’s also very rewarding watching them light up when we paint, draw or even just play cards with them.”

The Hickory High graduate came to Tidewater Community College with no specific career goals. He graduates with an Associate of Science in General Studies on May 11 and plans to pursue a human services bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University.

William Toncray

Toncray, 20, credits his volunteer work at TCC with helping him come up with a career plan that involves helping those in need through social work and advocacy.

It all started for Toncray when a student government leader invited him to get involved on campus. “Without that one interaction, my entire TCC experience could have been very different,” he said. “As student leaders, it is important to consider what effects our actions have on other people.”

Toncray holds a 3.6 GPA and was parliamentarian for student government. He helped launch a campus chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a national group working to break the stigma and provide support for those dealing with mental health challenges.

Struggling with clinical anxiety when he first came to TCC, Toncray found help through the new NAMI group. “Having peers you can lean on and talk with has been a huge help,” he said.

Toncray also developed plans for a food pantry on Chesapeake Campus. He even presented the project at a Virginia Community College Association student leadership conference. “It was during this time that I found that I’m passionate about helping people with their basic needs and found my calling,” he said.

Toncray calls his time at TCC transformative, noting two particularly inspiring professors in Bert Fox (psychology) and Marc Wingett (biology). “They made you want to go to class and participate,” he said.

“My goal was to get my general education requirements done for a lower cost, and I did that. But I got so much more,” Toncray said.

“TCC puts the community in college. Once I got involved, I made some great lifelong friends and found my future path.”

Chesapeake Campus Mental Health Awareness Week to feature NAMI on campus

Feeling stressed? Struggling with anxiety or depression? Not sure where to turn?

Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake Campus will host Mental Health Awareness Week, March 4-7. Sponsored by TCC C.A.R.E.S. and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the week is dedicated to sharing mental health resources, support and education.

Students from all campuses and the public are welcome to attend activities, which include information sessions and talks.

The Chesapeake Campus is located at 1428 Cedar Road. For maps and directions, visit

For more information, contact Elisabeth Jakubowski at

Drop-in or Stay for a Session

March 4

Anxiety Relief

11 a.m. – Information Session – 1st Floor Commons Lounge

Get information on mental health resources, such as cell phone breathing apps, coping techniques and options for help through NAMI.

Noon – Yoga & Mindfulness – 1st Floor Chesapeake Bay Room

Paula Slagle, a Chesapeake campus faculty member, will provide instruction on mindfulness, breathing and anxiety relief through yoga.

March 5

Staying Positive Depression awareness

11 a.m. – Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Health – 1st Floor Potomac Seminar Room

Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Healthcare will present several activities centered on positive thinking and how it can improve overall mental health and well being.

12:30 p.m. – Journal Decorating & Open Share Session – 1st Floor First Year Success Lounge

Decorate journals and talk openly about introducing “NAMI on Campus,” and learn about other local resources for mental health help, coping techniques, healthy living and depression.

March 6

Working with Stress

11 a.m. – Popcorn & TED Talks – 2nd Floor Veterans Lounge

This drop-in session features free popcorn and a variety of TED Talks on stress management, making stress your friend, finding balance and more.

Noon – “Orbeez” Stress Ball Making – 2nd Floor Veterans Lounge

Engage in this free, hands-on activity creating a tool that helps manage stressors – the stress ball.

March 7

Logo for NAMI on CampusSay it Out Loud

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Outreach Fair – 1st Floor Commons Lounge

Visit the mental health awareness outreach fair for more information on a variety of services and resources available on campus and in the community.

11 a.m. – Say It Out Loud! – 3rd Floor Little Otter Room

NAMI created its “Say it Out Loud!” campaign to get teens and young adults talking about mental health. Sharing information and starting conversations about mental health are key in reducing perceptions and increasing the likelihood that people will seek mental health care when they need it. NAMI is committed to helping start those conversations. Learn from special guests who have their own stories to share in an open discussion.