When she graduated from Nansemond River High School in Suffolk, Morgan Washington knew she couldn’t afford a four-year university.

She wondered why more of her classmates didn’t make what seemed like the obvious choice: Tidewater Community College.

“Why would I take a bunch of prerequisites at a four-year when I can take the same classes at TCC and transfer them over?” she said of TCC’s affordability.

“Spending all that money didn’t make sense to me.”

Washington will graduate debt-free from Tidewater Community College on Dec. 19 with her Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development.

Morgan Washington at the Childhood Development Center on the Portsmouth CampusShe is already employed at Children’s Harbor in Suffolk. She will transfer to Norfolk State University to work toward her bachelor’s in the discipline.

The road to her doctorate at Virginia State University is already planned out in her mind.

“My whole mindset is different after coming to TCC,” Washington said. “I used to go through the motions to get from A to B. Now I’ve got a C, D, E, F and G.”

Washington credits Jeanne Hopkins, head of early childhood education on the Portsmouth Campus, with providing a personal level of support that has helped her succeed.

“Ms. Hopkins is phenomenal; all the teachers in my curriculum are,” Washington said.

She said she appreciates the hand-on learning the program offers, incorporating theory with practice.

“Morgan is an amazing student who has worked hard to be where she is,” Hopkins said. “She is incredibly talented in working with young children and has a true heart for it.”

In addition to being a full-time student, Washington works 35 hours a week at Children’s Harbor, a nonprofit where she completed the observation hours required for her major.

She works with infants to 4-year-olds, and no matter what her day is like, she brings an upbeat attitude.

“You have to be excited because it rubs off on the children,” she said. “If you’re not feeling it, they’re not feeling it.”

She’s all about hugs, too, so much so that the kids have come to request them.

“I never say no to a hug,” she said.

Washington’s long-range plan is to open her own child care facility that she’s already named Just Lovely Kids.

She wants to implement much of what Hopkins has taught her at TCC. Hopkins also would like Washington to return to the college as a faculty member.

“Once she attains her master’s degree, I’m going to hire her to teach in my program,” Hopkins said.

The associate degree is Washington’s first step, and she looks forward to participating in TCC’s graduation.

“I will walk in graduation because to me it’s a personal thing,” she said. “I started something here, and it’s an accomplishment to finish.”
 

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