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Twelve graduates take the fast track to education

Accelerated Degree students celebrate success. Standing, from left: Jonathan Benton, Ariana Walker, Lovely Jean de Guia, Stephanie Leggett, Khari Nixon, Sophie Coates, Alek Grzegorzewski and James Pettway. Sitting from left: Beth Brosnahan, Cidney Salitore, Justin Jeffrey and Brianna Moore

Tidewater Community College’s first class of students in its Accelerated Degree program will graduate on June 27, just one year after starting. 

Twelve students will earn associate degrees with 10 receiving the Associate of Science in General Studies and two receiving the Associate of Science in Science. All are transfer degrees, which allow the graduates to enter four-year institutions as juniors. 

James Pettway
James Pettway

Held on the Norfolk Campus, the accelerated program began in July 2016. Students take classes in 11- and 12-week sessions year-round, earning the required 60 or 61 credits within 12 months. 

In addition, students receive personalized attention with a low faculty-to-student ratio and regular academic advising. 

“Our degree lets students put their education and career into high gear,” said Jeffery Boyd, provost of the Norfolk Campus. “TCC is the first community college in Virginia to launch a program like this.” 

James Pettway came to TCC after serving as a hospital corpsman in the Navy for five years. He selected the program because he wanted to get through school quickly. “I grew up poor and was the definition of, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I never even considered college before. I didn’t have the ambition or the drive. My first and only job before the Navy was at Walmart.” 

While in the Navy, Pettway discovered his passion for medicine. At TCC, he learned he could be successful in the classroom. “When I got through those first courses, I realized that I was capable. I applied the same ambition and focus I used in the Navy to be successful. I did it because I put my head down and believed I could.” 

Pettway, who holds a 3.8 GPA, plans to transfer to Old Dominion University to study health sciences. He hopes to be a physician’s assistant 

Stephanie Leggett
Stephanie Leggett

Stephanie Leggett graduated from Granby High in 2016, and while she took AP classes, she didn’t make the grades. She learned about the Accelerated Degree program from her high school guidance counselor.  

“This program has shown me that I can accomplish great things,” she said. “I can get a degree in one year and things can get better. For me, it was important to be challenged so I wouldn’t get bored. 

Leggett excelled in the classroom and jumped into campus life. “The college is really diverse and there’s a lot going on outside the classroom,” she said. “I see things differently now and believe anything is possible.” 

Leggett, who holds a 3.7 GPA, plans to transfer to Old Dominion. She wants to be an attorney to advocate for people who have no voice. 

The next class of students for the Accelerated Degree program is being recruited now. The program is open to new high school graduates as well as adult learners, including military-related students who meet certain academic requirements. 

Prospective students must complete admission requirements that are specific to this degree. The first steps are to apply for TCC admission and contact Cassandra Small, program coordinator. Small can be reached at 757-822-1723 or   

The application deadline is June 20, and classes begin July 5. Visit for details.