Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani, president of TCC, opened the 57th Commencement Exercises by welcoming dignitaries and also acknowledging the thousands of family and friends waiting to see “their” graduate.
“If it weren’t for your love and support of your student, we know there would have been a lot less time for studies,” she said. “Thank you for giving of yourself to help make these students successful.”
Catara Dillard spoke on behalf of the students, and TCC alumna Carol Curtis delivered the keynote address.
Dillard, graduating with an Associate of Science in Social Sciences with plans to attend Sentara College of Health Sciences to become a surgical technician, credited TCC with helping develop her confidence and independence.
“TCC means more to me than just a building, more than just a place where I went to school,” she said. “TCC became my home, and the people here became my family.”
Dillard encouraged the graduates to reach their goals with steadfastness, develop character with sacrifice, extend their reach through service and soar, “so that our school’s motto can become our personal philosophy, ‘From here you truly can go anywhere.’ ”
Curtis, who graduated from TCC with an Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology, started her own company, Noah Enterprises, in 2004. Today the $20 million operation, among the fastest growing companies in the region, is an industry leader, as is its founder.
“I challenge each of you to be exceptional,” said Curtis, who sits on the TCC Educational Foundation Board and is an active mentor with the college’s Women’s Center. “Reach out and get involved; be that good person who helps to pay it forward and makes the difference. As I tell my own children, ‘Now is your chance to go and rock the world and color outside the lines in a positive way.’ ”
John Padgett, vice chair of the TCC College Board, reflected on the passing in June of Board Chair Tom Wilson prior to introducing Curtis.
“Tom would be immensely proud of the students gathered here tonight,” Padgett said.
Graduates were awarded TCC Alumni pins as they came off the stage. Following the conferring of degrees and certificates, Alumni Association Board Chair Gerald Ortiz welcomed the newest alumni.
“Your journey as TCC alumni begins tonight,” he said. “TCC is now permanently a part of your story. And the Alumni Association and its nearly 120,000 members share your story.”
Following the singing of the alma mater and a cake-and-punch reception, the graduates and their families walked out into the warm December night, ready for the next chapter of that story.