–by Svetla Tomanova
It’s graduation season for higher education – a proud moment for students and families, but also for faculty members and Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS). On May 9, Tidewater Community College (TCC) held its 74th commencement in front of more than 1,300 beaming graduates, including 21 dual enrollment students from Kempsville High School’s Entrepreneurship and Business Academy (EBA). The attendees gathered at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk. This was the third Academy graduation but the first one in person.
TCC Board Chair Cynthia “Cindy” Free delivered the commencement address to the 2022 graduating class of TCC, her alma mater. She advised the graduates to remember that “the walk across the stage is not the end of your path, but only the next phase of your journey.”
Allison Wilson, a dual enrollment student from Portsmouth’s Churchland High School, spoke eloquently on behalf of the graduates.
“TCC has been a place where we grew as people and scholars,” she said. “We made it through the trials and tribulations not only proving ourselves but inspiring others. We will take the lessons learned and applied them to our future endeavors.”
KHS Principal Melissa George highlighted the importance of the college connection with her school.
“We are excited to see our EBA students graduate from TCC with their associates,” she said. “We have had a strong partnership with TCC over the past several years and the graduation is a symbol of the success of that partnership.”
Caroline Myers was one of many EBA educators who came to watch their students take that walk across the stage. “(They) have the drive to take on this rigorous academic commitment and display a level of competitiveness that sets them apart when applying to four-year institutions,” she said.
TCC accounting professor Cynthia Bird was impressed with her student’s dedication to their studies. “They are diligent and work hard,” she explained, “which is why I love teaching the EBA students.”
The new graduates were equally passionate about the program, its advantages, the career paths they discovered and the meaningful connections they established between what they learned in school and its application beyond the classroom.
“I have enjoyed the freedom, independence, and experience that comes with taking college courses,” said KHS EBA student Elise Ashby. “In taking classes in order to receive an associate degree in business management, I chose subjects that I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise, and in doing so I was able to discover new interests to pursue.”
Talisa Sanchez, another EBA student, reflected on her experience, “I came into the EBA’s Corporate Finance strand because at the time I wanted to be an accountant, and the idea of graduating with an associate degree was very appealing to me. It was pretty cool to not only see but go to a college campus while still in high school.”
The EBA welcomes all students who are considering careers in the field of business or want to be exposed to multiple dual enrollment credit opportunities through TCC, including paths leading to earning an associate degree in business administration. It is a great way for students to start their college journey while still in the familiar environment of high school.
“The Academy offers an exciting opportunity to our students to earn associate degrees while they are still in the program,” said VBCPS Superintendent Aaron Spence. “This is an incredible accomplishment – one that all of our students should aspire to and we are so proud of every one of them. Congratulations to the EBA class of 2022!”