Celebrating graduates, celebrating community colleges


Brendan Wynn, PVCC

We received an update from a previous VahigherEd.com blogger this week - Brendan Wynn, who traveled to Richmond in January with a Piedmont Virginia Community College delegation to visit the General Assembly, writes:

Hey guys, I wanted to give you an update. I was offered admission at the University of Virginia thanks to PVCC and the Virginia Community College System. This is so, so important to me and I truly value what the VCCS has allowed me to do.

I looked back to see Brendan’s original post (PVCC provides a home, support for independent student – Jan. 23, 2012), and it reminds me how important one particular contact at a community college can be for a student’s success.

For  Brendan, it was a financial aid officer, Carol Larson, who stopped to listen to the compelling story from a young man who had been removed from his home at age 16 – and had no parental support, making any kind of financial aid application almost impossible.

Tonight, Brendan graduates from PVCC – where UVa President Teresa Sullivan will be the graduation speaker. But despite a promising future, he won’t forget the role that Virginia’s Community Colleges played in his success.

I really can’t say enough how proud I am to be a VCCS graduate, he says.


Beth Turner, graduation speaker at Germanna Community College Wednesday, hasn’t forgotten either. One of the first nursing students when the college opened its doors in 1970, the 1972 graduate went on to receive a bachelor’s in nursing from UVa and a master’s in counseling from George Mason. She credits former GCC nursing director Dale Featherston with showing her the support and respect she needed as a single mother to complete her education.

As the Free-lance Star quoted, she told graduates that the degree she earned at Germanna enabled her to follow her dreams.


In Lynchburg, 1978 Central Virginia Community College Alum Raymond Pages wasn’t sure he’d even graduate from CVCC after riding a motorcycle through the dining room, he told graduates last night. But as The Lynchburg News & Advance  reports, he went on to become a NASA project director, heading the ground system development office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, working on 39 space flight missions between 1989 and 2011. 

A late bloomer, he told the crowd he went on to get a degree at Virginia Tech, but beat out 500 competitors for his first job at NASA because his community college experience gave him more hands-on experience.

Pages was one of several top NASA employees speaking at Virginia’s Community Colleges  this year.

Every Virginia Community College has graduates – and stories – like these.   Commencement ceremonies continue tonight, Saturday and Sunday, and through Wednesday, May 16.

Posted by Susan Hayden

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