Judge addresses VGCC Adult Basic Skills graduates

VGCC GED graduate Jacqueline Davis of Oxford speaks at her commencement exercises on May 3. (VGCC photo)

Vance-Granville Community College held commencement exercises honoring graduates of the college’s Adult Basic Skills programs on May 3 in the VGCC Civic Center. Those participating in the ceremony were among the approximately 460 students who have completed either the Adult High School Diploma program or the General Educational Development (GED) High School Equivalency program in the past year.

VGCC Vice President of Community and Economic Development Vanessa Jones welcomed graduates, family and friends to an occasion “of joy and celebration.” She commended the graduates for persevering to reach the first of what she hoped would be many educational milestones. She invited graduates to continue their education and “to seize the opportunities that come before you, because you, and only you, are in control of your destiny.”

GED graduate Jacqueline I. Davis of Oxford spoke on behalf of her fellow students. Davis, a mother of four, dropped out of high school to go to work. After many years in the workforce, she completed her GED at VGCC in late 2011 and then enrolled in the college’s Medical Office Administration degree program. “I love every minute I’m in school, and I’m making good grades,” Davis said. “I am headed in a very positive and prosperous direction!” She emphasized that a high school diploma would not be sufficient to “get a great job” in today’s economy, which is why she enrolled in a college program.

A VGCC Adult Basic Skills graduate (left) walks across the stage, having been congratulated by commencement speaker and District Court Judge Quon Bridges and (at right) VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams. (VGCC photo)

The Honorable S. Quon Bridges, a district court judge for the state’s Ninth Judicial District (Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties), was the principal commencement speaker. In a passionate speech, Bridges noted that the importance of education was instilled in him by his family from an early age. He said that the graduates had been “prepared for excellence” by VGCC basic skills programs. “You have worked hard, but you have more to do,” the judge told the graduates. “Because of your good education, I know you’re going to have a good attitude. ‘Attitude’ plus ‘Action’ equals ‘Altitude!’ Based on what you have already have accomplished, I believe that you have confidence in yourself, and the more confidence you have, the more success you will have.” He asked students to “pick courage over fear, hope over despair, opportunity over denial, and prosperity rather than poverty.”

Following the address by Bridges, Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC, told graduates, “You are able now to further your education, start your career, and become a lifelong learner.” She said that the ceremony had special meaning for her, since her first job in the community college system was as a basic skills instructor. To encourage graduates to continue their education, she announced that each would receive a voucher toward free tuition and fees for one semester of courses in curriculum programs at VGCC. “This voucher is our way of saying not only ‘congratulations on a job well done’ but also ‘keep going’ — on to new beginnings,” the president said. After VGCC Director of Adult Basic Skills Cathy Barham presented candidates for graduation, Vanessa Jones and Judge Bridges assisted President Williams in conferring diplomas.