The rousing applause from capped-and-gowned graduates and the families and friends there to celebrate them at the Ted Constant Convocation Center provided her answer.
“You have completed an academic journey,” Baehre-Kolovani said. “For many of you, TCC was the first leg of a journey that will take you to a four-year school, and for many of you, it’s the final leg that will advance your career. I am proud of you and your achievements.”
Baehre-Kolovani lauded all 1,772 graduates – of whom more than 850 were in attendance – and acknowledged TCC’s youngest graduates, 18-year-olds Jonathan Zeigler, Alex Mayes and Alexandra Clements, and the oldest, “Gloria Myers, who is a young 84.”
“I spoke to her a couple of days ago,” Baehre-Kolovani said. “She’s already signed up for summer and fall classes.”
Marcus Baker spoke on behalf of the students, and Curtis L. Coy delivered the commencement address.
Baker, who earned his Associate of Science in Social Sciences, will attend Norfolk State University as a Links Scholar to pursue a master’s in social work. He talked about refusing to become another disheartening statistic despite growing up in public housing in Portsmouth.
“I even heard notions that children from the projects do not go to college,” said Baker, sporting a brilliant red bow tie. “Today I silence those voices as I stand here a strong man, a responsible father, a trusting mentor, an innovative leader and most of all, a graduate of Tidewater Community College.”
Baker encouraged his fellow graduates to remain focused on their goals, to understand their self-worth and to let their individuality and worth ethic define them, not their credentials.
Coy, deputy under secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, congratulated the graduates for achieving a significant milestone and recognized the military veterans and their families in the audience, noting, “Out of the 44,000 who attend TCC, almost 14,000 of them have a relationship to the military.”
Military-affiliated graduates for the first time donned red, white and blue honor cords as part of their regalia.
Saying that with freedom comes responsibility, Coy reminded the graduates that throughout their journey in life they will find several invitations to responsibility, whether they would be caring for a sick family member, helping a mistreated co-worker, volunteering at a shelter or serving their country.
“How we respond to those invitations is a personal choice,” he said. “There will always be a wrong that needs to be righted.”
He added, “You might not be the next Mother Teresa, but my hope is that you will begin this next chapter in your lives with your eyes wide open to the invitation being addressed to you every single day.”
After the conferring of degrees, the TCC graduates received alumni pins upon exiting the stage. Garrett Berger, Alumni Association Board vice president, welcomed TCC’s newest alums into the fold.
“Tonight you join nearly 120,000 alumni worldwide who share a common TCC bond. We hope you will embrace this bond by giving back to those students who will come after you,” he said. “Remember: A commencement is a beginning, not an end. We are confident that you will be successful going forward as Tidewater Community College graduates.”
58th Commencement Exercises May 16, 2014
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Grad Images was on hand to capture graduates’ portraits as they received their diplomas.
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Graduates: Don’t lose touch with Tidewater Community College! Stay connected with the college and your fellow alums.