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TCC STEM Promise scholar gets the surprise of a lifetime

It was just a month ago when Jaidan Williams welcomed President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden during their stop at Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus.

“I still – even now – can’t put into words what it was like to represent TCC in that way,” she said. “At first I thought I was being asked to introduce TCC’s president. It was a shock to learn I was actually introducing President Biden.”

  • President Joe Biden

A TCC STEM Promise scholar, Williams was selected to introduce the president before he spoke to a group of legislators, as well as faculty and staff.

Williams, 20, says she was honored to be considered for the role. “To do something like this, that no one in my family has ever done, made me so proud,” she said.

Williams graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security in May. As a STEM Promise scholar, she paid nothing for tuition and fees. Williams was also part of a cohort and received specialized advising through the program.

“The STEM Promise program was a great fit for me because of the support I received and the friends I made,” she said. “Our group shared textbooks, helped with homework and got together outside of school.”

Jaidan Williams at Portsmouth Campus.

Williams is continuing her studies at Old Dominion University and is the recipient of another full scholarship. This time she earned the National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service. The scholarship includes a generous stipend, book allowance and professional development funds. When she graduates, Williams will work in a federal agency doing cyber work for up to three years.

A Granby High graduate, Williams got her start at TCC as a dual enrollment student while still in high school.

“TCC has definitely been a good starting point for me. This place has catapulted me in so many different ways,” Williams said.

While at TCC, Williams was president of Phi Theta Kappa on Portsmouth Campus. She was also involved in Women in Cyber Security and a student member of Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

Williams is paying it forward by serving as a student advisor for Future Business Leaders of America at Maury High. She is also gaining leadership skills as an intern with Butterfly Village, a youth development program.

Williams encourages classmates to find out about all that TCC has to offer.

“TCC offers so many resources, but sometimes students don’t know what’s available. I encourage everyone to network, meet with professors and advisors, use the tutoring centers and career services,” she said.

Williams also credits faculty member Joel Kirsch with teaching real-world concepts. “We focused on hot topics like the cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline. It made our class time even richer,” she said.

Williams plans a career in cyber security as an information systems auditor or in the governance, risk and compliance area.

“I got a great education at TCC, and it came with so many opportunities,” she said. “Even during the pandemic, I felt connected to my campus community.”

A proud TCC alumna, Williams is following in her mom’s footsteps by getting her start at TCC.

“My mom – Corrie Brown – earned her general studies degree at TCC and went on to earn a master’s degree,” Williams said. “She now teaches financial literacy at the high school level. I’m really proud to start in the same place that she did.”

President and Dr. Biden watch an HVAC demonstration on Portsmouth Campus.

President Biden and First Lady visit TCC’s Portsmouth Campus

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth Campus today to talk about the American Family Plan, a proposed initiative to help working families.

The plan would create four additional years of free public education and make preschool free for all 3- and 4-year-olds. In addition, the plan would cover at least two years of community college for all students.

“Every child has the capacity to learn,” President Biden said. “We are going to add two years of community college for everyone. For some that will mean earning the credits necessary to transfer to a four-year university. Others will prepare for a career.”

President Biden also talked about increasing Pell grant funding to help break down barriers for students including the cost of transportation and childcare.

President Marcia Conston with TCC Board Chair Cindy Free (left) and Board Vice Chair Lynn Clements. The group welcomed President Biden and Dr. Biden to the college.

TCC President Marcia Conston met with President Biden before he spoke to Virginia legislators, TCC board members and staff.

“This is a great day for TCC,” President Conston said. “I absolutely support this initiative because it’s good for our students and our community. Providing free community college education to everyone is a game-changer and will allow students to prepare for high demand careers without incurring any college debt.” 

TCC student Jaidan Williams introduced the president and thanked him for helping students like her and schools like TCC.

TCC cyber security student Jaidan Williams

“TCC has equipped me to become a well-rounded professional and student,” Williams said. “My time at TCC included volunteer opportunities, internships and professional development.  As a STEM Promise Scholar, I received a full scholarship, completely easing the financial burden of school.”

Williams is graduating this month with an Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Security. She currently works as a civilian employee for the U.S. Coast Guard but has set her sights on a cyber career.

During their visit to TCC, the Bidens toured a heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) laboratory and watched a demonstration led by HVAC Professor and Program Head Harlan Krepcik.

Three TCC students worked with Krepcik to connect and measure electrical current through a series of parallel circuits.

“We need skilled technicians and the challenge we face is that the public views the trades as a last choice,” Krepcik said. “Many students would do well coming to community college and getting the hands-on training necessary to enter the skilled trades.”

First Lady Jill Biden, a Northern Virginia Community College English faculty member, has been teaching for more than three decades.

Speaking of Virginia’s Community Colleges, the First Lady added, “Our schools accept everyone, and we offer classes that are flexible. We train students for real-world jobs and provide a strong foundation to those who want to transfer to a four-year school.”

The Bidens leaving TCC’s Portsmouth Campus.