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TCC announces 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Awards

Tidewater Community College honors the life and legacy of  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by presenting annual awards to those who embody his teachings and spirit.

The 2015 recipients, announced Tuesday, are:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Distinguished Award: Ruth T. Jones, executive director of YWCA South Hampton Roads
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Distinguished Service Award: Thomas H. Lee, coordinator for faculty professional development at TCC
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award: Bryan J. Hurdle, a TCC student working toward his Associate of Science in Social Science, who lives in Norfolk

The three will be honored on Feb. 5 at a ceremony in the Joint-Use Library on TCC’s Virginia Beach Campus. The event is open to the college community. RSVP by Jan. 29.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Distinguished Service Award: Ruth T. Jones

Ruth Jones
Ruth T. Jones

Ruth T. Jones considers herself a beneficiary of the foundation laid by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As executive director of the YWCA South Hampton Roads, she is mindful of what she calls an obligation to pay it forward every day.

“Our mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice and human dignity for all. These are all things that King was an advocate for,” Jones said.

More than two decades ago, Jones needed YWCA services herself, surviving both rape and an abusive situation as a teenager. After a few weeks in a domestic violence shelter, her family grew strong enough to rebuild.

Graduating from Bayside High School with honors, Jones planned to be a pediatrician, but her desire to work with people moved her toward social work. She earned her bachelor’s in sociology from William & Mary and then a master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Jones is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in social work from The Catholic University of America.

“I made a conscious decision to serve those who are the least advantaged in our community,” Jones said. “If there weren’t people available to reach back and help me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Distinguished Service Award: Thomas H. Lee

Tom Lee
Tom Lee

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Those words of Dr. King deeply impressed Tom Lee, coordinator for faculty professional development at TCC, when he first heard them. How fitting for a man who keeps TCC forging ahead as a technological leader in higher education.

“I love working directly with faculty and showing them the possibilities and resources available to make technology work for their students,” Lee said from his office in the Batten Lab inside the Joint-Use Library on the Virginia Beach Campus.

Lee’s TCC career spans almost 30 years, starting as a guidance counselor eager to shape the lives of the students he mentored. He opened the first career center on the Virginia Beach Campus and created the first campus-wide video bulletin board there in 1995. A year later, then-President Larry Whitworth asked Lee to expand advertising college events and promoting new programs visually to all of TCC’s campuses. Over the years he had a hand in establishing TCC’s website and Information Center.

Currently, Lee mentors faculty on how to best use online resources that range from TED lectures to innovative new apps. He presents workshops on topics such as presentation skills, flipped classrooms, Google apps for educators, Open Educational Resources, video creation, podcasting, lecture capture and student learning pedagogy.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Award: Bryan J. Hurdle

Bryan Hurdle
Bryan Hurdle

Bryan J. Hurdle grew up in Chesapeake, but spent much of his time in the Berkley section of Norfolk, conscious of the drug dealing and gunfire outside his front door.

“My great aunt took care of me and kept the home free from bad influences,” Hurdle, 34, said.

Hurdle is working toward an Associate of Science in Social Sciences. He is vocal in his disdain for the media’s portrayal of race relations and what’s acceptable in African American culture.

“I’m waging a war of sorts against the media who are promoting such a negative outlook and lifestyle for our community and world,” Hurdle said. “Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting for our freedom. Fast forward and we are fighting for freedom away from a culture that accepts average, accepts failures, accepts something bad and calls it a cultural thing.”

After TCC, Hurdle plans to pursue a bachelor’s in media studies at the University of Virginia. His dream is to launch an organization that helps high school dropouts earn their GEDs and move on to higher education. “Coming to TCC has changed my perspective substantially. I did not come to college just to learn, but I came so people would learn from me, and to give something back,” he said.