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TCC alums become friends and valentines

It took more than two years for Cupid’s arrow to hit Deven Singleton and Jena Essary.

But this year the two Tidewater Community College alums are finally celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together.

The pair met in 2019 when they were STEM Promise scholars. Singleton was studying engineering and Essary computer science.

Caroline Jacobs, Kiana Brown, Seth Grieling, Jena Essary, Valerie Randall and Deven Singleton are all part of the TCC six pack.

To keep up with their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies they formed a study group with four other students including Caroline Jacobs, Valerie Randall, Kiana Brown and Seth Grieling.

“The program brought together a lot of like-minded students, so it was easy to connect and lean on each other when the going got tough,” Essary said.  

The group met weekly in the Chesapeake Campus Student Center.

“Being in a cohort, and doing our TCC degrees together, that was the best part,” Singleton said.

“The faculty support and small classes were also a plus. We were known to our teachers and each other, and that accountability kept me on track,” Essary added.

The group became the TCC six pack, doing life together, even after graduation.

“The connections we made at TCC have carried over to university and we see each other and text often,” Singleton said.

As for Singleton and Essary, friendship blossomed into a relationship in December 2020 and the pair is looking to the future together.

Both are completing their degrees at Old Dominion University and working in their fields as paid interns.

Singleton is an electrical engineer, in a salaried position with Naval Surface Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Oceana.

“It wasn’t easy to find an internship during the pandemic, so I’m super grateful for this opportunity,” Singleton said. “The exposure I’m getting doing research and development is a great way to enter the workforce.”

Essary is working in the office of public engagement at NASA Langley Research Center. She is the information technology technician for the office and working on mobile and web-based applications.

 The couple hopes to work in Hampton Roads for the next five years and then possibly move to Huntsville, Alabama, a growing area for the STEM fields.

In their free time, the couple enjoys working out and, of course, spending time with the six pack. Essary also started a side business, Jena’s Jewelry, to keep busy during the pandemic.