“Boundless horizons” await the newly minted graduates of Northen Virginia Community College, the institution’s president told them during May 15 ceremonies at EagleBank Arena on the campus of George Mason University.
“Your commitment to your goals to getting here today has been unwavering,” Anne Kress said as degrees and certificates were awarded at Virginia’s largest public institution of higher education. The president urged the “amazing, inspiring, bold and brilliant” class to remember that while rights and privileges came with a college degree, so did responsibilities.
It was the 56th commencement exercise for the college, beginning after a 14-minute processional of students, who were greeted by thousands of well-wishers.
NVCC (or NOVA, as it alternately is known) is “the college businesses look to for building the future workforce,” said Zuzana Steen, who chairs the college’s governing body.
Steen reminded the new graduates that they didn’t get to this moment on their own. “Turn around and applaud your family members and friends,” she requested.
Michelle Brown-Nevers, the college’s vice president for enrollment management and student success, noted the wide array of students represented in the Class of 2022. Among them: first in their family to graduate; those in the military or veterans; those who worked while earning their degrees; and those juggling raising children with their studies.
“Rise and say, ‘I am NOVA,’” she exhorted each group.
Cybersecurity expert Arfa Syed, a graduate of the institution and its 2022 commencement speaker, told students that she and her twin sister had excelled in high school, but there wasn’t money available to immediately pursue college.
“So we waited – for two long years,” she said, before embarking on “a voyage that I dreamed of and had prayed for.”
Taking one or two classes per semester, it sometimes seemed as if a degree was out of reach. “Dreams were delayed, but always pursued,” she noted.
“Hold your head up high; go from here boldly,” she told the new graduates. “Find people willing to take a chance on you, and give them a reason to. You deserve a seat at the table.”