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TCC marks 70th Commencement Exercises with first-ever virtual celebration

Tidewater Community College recognized its spring graduates with a first-ever virtual commencement on May 11. The 70th Commencement Exercises were streamed for graduates, family and friends to share together on social media.

The online ceremony was the first commencement under President Marcia Conston, who became the college’s sixth president in January.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many aspects of our lives; however, it is important for us to celebrate your achievement,” President Conston said in her opening remarks. “You have reached a significant milestone, and I am very proud of you and your achievements.”

Faculty from various disciplines and staff members from every campus took turns giving shout-outs to TCC’s newest graduates.

Professor Andrea Palmisano, representing the Social Sciences pathway on the Virginia Beach Campus, advised the graduates to “stay intellectually curious, use your critical thinking skills and follow your dreams.”

“Go forth and put into practice what you have learned and never stop conquering challenges along the way,” said nursing instructor Catina Davis.

ESL faculty offered “congratulations” in multiple languages.

Military-related students received a special message from Stephanie Martinez, veteran service coordinator at TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education. More than one-third of the college’s enrollment is military-related.

“The pursuit of your academic goals in these unprecedented times is beyond commendable,” she said. “You worked through rigorous academic demands, and through it all, you graduated.

Staffer Vickie Britt recognized TCC’s dual enrollment students from Kempsville High School, the inaugural cohort to complete TCC’s Business and Entrepreneurship Academy. They are among 30 Governor’s Medallion recipients – the most ever for the college. These are high achievers who received associate degrees before their high school diplomas.

Four student speakers reflected on their TCC experiences. Jena Essary, who held 4.6 at Grassfield High School before enrolling here, was among 11 Women’s Center STEM Promise Program scholars graduating.

“Many things can be done with a community college education,” said Essary, who earned her associate in computer science and is now at Old Dominion University. “The only person who limits yourself is you.”

Kiana Brown, also a STEM scholar and active in multiple organizations on the Chesapeake Campus, agreed, “At TCC, I learned my community is more than the buildings and people around me.  I learned what matters most is what you do for others and continuing to do those things to make your community and world a better place.”

Governor’s Medallion recipient Lauryn Thompson added,  “I have learned so much and experienced so much at TCC.” Thompson, just 17, will major in mechanical engineering at Old Dominion.

“You made it!” Zaquinntia Chamblee said to her peers before offering these words from a favorite church sermon. “Your dreams and goals may be delayed but they will never be denied.”

Corey McCray, the college’s chief academic officer, presented the candidates for graduation. Each of the campus provosts preceded with calling the names of the graduates who chose to participate in the virtual event.

The entire class of 2020 is listed at the conclusion of the online ceremony.