TCC Recognizes Veterans at Commencement

Graduate with veteran's honor cord

TCC graduate Lindsey Gribbin proudly dons her veteran’s honor cord at Commencement.

TCC has always supported veterans and honored their sacrifices, but at this year’s Commencement Ceremony the College made an extra effort to recognize graduating veterans with a special honor cord to wear with their robes. The red-white-and-blue cords were distributed to more than 85 graduates and many faculty members who have served in the armed forces.

“It feels great that we’re being recognized and that our college is behind us,” said Sedrick Tyrone Robertson, who was graduating with an Associate of Arts degree. Robertson served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Kittyhawk and USS Dubuque.

Career Foreshadowing

Another veteran used his experience as a Navy cook as inspiration for his career after the military. Jesse De Leon earned degrees in both culinary arts and hospitality management. De Leon said he was proud to wear the cords for his commencement.

“It means the world to me,” he said. “It’s a great honor serving my country; so it’s good to be recognized by TCC. “

Inspired to Help Others

After serving in in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq from 2003-2007, and then being called back in 2008, Lindsey Gribbin said she had a tough time adjusting to life back home. Her experience inspired her to help others, and she earned a degree as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor.

Gribbin graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, which has already helped her land a job as an intern in the counseling field. Although she values her service in Iraq, she said it was difficult to leave behind her one-year-old daughter.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I missed the whole period of her being little,” she said. “So it’s a huge honor to be recognized.”

Veteran faculty members

Many TCC faculty members are also veterans.

Attend a Workshop

If you’re a veteran and you’d like to know how TCC can help you, please make plans to attend a Veterans Education Benefits Workshop later this month. TCC will host workshops on each campus May 29 through June 1 to provide information about the Veterans Education Benefits application process, TCC’s VetSuccess Counselors, and other resources available to TCC Veterans.

Register for one of the workshops at


Commencement Goes High Tech

DSC_1316How did you experience this year’s graduation? Were you there in person, receiving your certificate? Were you watching a friend or family member walking across the stage? Or maybe you were one of many who followed TCC’s livestream of the event.

Technology was out in full force at this year’s commencement ceremony in an effort by the Web Communications team to highlight TCC’s class of 2013. Students, families, and friends were encouraged to share their stories and pictures in real time with various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. As students were waiting backstage to line up, pictures of them in full regalia were posted; as students filed in, tweets were sent letting followers know the excitement had begun.

“It was exciting when the first submissions started coming in,” Barbara Prellwitz, one of the Web Communications team members, said. “Last year we were just trying it out to even see if it was possible and only received a few things from students. This year, we advertised it on the website and pushed it on social media and students listened and participated. It was great!”

Even family members or friends out of country could participate in the ceremony by watching it live via the official commencement site.   The livestream broadcast was watched by people in countries all over the world, including the US and Puerto Rico, Philippines, Mexico, Italy, Ireland, Dominica, Guatemala, Canada, and New Zealand.

“It was a great year for our web presence during commencement,” Prellwitz added.  “We wanted to engage more people and make it more accessible, and I felt that’s exactly what we did.”

To see some of the student picture submissions, visit the TCC Flickr page.

TCC Grads: A Mixed Group

Etheridge with daughters

James Etheridge, center, with daughters, Linda Pollard, left, and Karen Baker.

Recent TCC graduate James Etheridge loves to learn. Before Friday’s ceremony celebrating his second degree from TCC, Etheridge had already started on his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Houston.

His zeal for school is more notable because Etheridge is a 76-year-old retiree from Bell Helicopter, who was the inspiration for two of his daughters to also earn degrees from TCC this spring.

“I would watch him do his lesson. He was excited, inspired and motivated and it kind of rubbed off on me,” said his daughter, Linda Pollard, who earned a degree in office administration.

Karen Baker, his daughter who graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration, agreed.  “If he can do it, it should not be a problem for me,” said Baker, adding that her parents had always instilled the importance of learning into their eight children. Baker and Pollard extended the family’s TCC tradition. Two other sisters are TCC graduates and a brother has been an adjunct professor.

Baker remembers this tip from her Dad:  “You can find jobs every single day, but you can never find one worth keeping without an education.”

Reading Sparks Early Success

His strong desire to learn to read when he could barely talk has earned George Paddock the distinction of  TCC’s youngest graduate. When he turned 16 on May 16, it had already been five days since the official ceremony.

Because he learned to read so young, Paddock was able to quench his own curiosity.  “When I started asking questions, my Mom would say, ‘I don’t know, but you…can get some books so you can figure it out,’” Paddock said. “Most kids can’t do that because they don’t know how to read.”

Paddock originally wanted to be heart surgeon because it required the most years in school. But that was before he realized that he didn’t have in the fine motor skills needed to perform heart surgery. He still plans to be a doctor and wants to initially continue his education at The University of Dallas.

His advice to students entering college: “You should not decide on your major before you go to college. You should go to college with an open mind. You don’t want to make a decision too early and decide something before you experience it.”

Check out more graduation stories here:


Graduate George Paddock recently turned 16.


TCC Grads: Family Celebrations

Mills family

Denise Mills, left, and daughter, Amanda

Denise Mills and her daughter, Amanda, already shared an introduction to sign language at young ages so they could communicate with non-hearing friends. Now, they both have the distinction of graduating from TCC’s American Sign Language Program.

Denise originally was going to take a few hours to complete her foreign language requirement to enter a four-year university. Since she was homeschooling her daughter, Amanda, she suggested she enter the program along with her, but as a dual credit student.

“We got into the program and really loved it,” said Amanda, who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in linguistics.  “It was a rigorous program and very challenging.”

As a part of the program, she and her mother have contributed numerous hours of service as volunteer interpreters at a camp for people with disabilities and as part of a police department arts program. Now, their next challenge is to get pass the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters. Amanda recently took her examination and Denise will take hers in July.

Proud Dad Participates
Cameron Maurice Smith is not the first in his family to graduate college,  yet his graduation was a special one for his father, Charles Smith. It was the first one where the elder Smith, Southeast Campus Learning Coordinator, donned regalia and participated with one of his offspring.

Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith in processional.

“I have always been an observer in the stadium looking down on a sea of graduates. . .and screaming to the top of my voice upon the call of my child’s name,” said Smith, the father of six.  “This time, as I sat with faculty and staff for the first time, I debated on the proper etiquette.”

The decision  was quickly made once he remembered his wife’s counsel that “you have one opportunity to go wild. . .then etiquette went out the door,” he said. “The yelling was not only for Cameron but for me, too, and the fact that I could cross through another name.”

It was enjoyed by the younger Smith as well. “Having my regalia-clad father sit next to me in the arena section and then receiving a bear hug from him immediately upon leaving the stage” made the ceremony special for him.

Following the path of older siblings armed with college hours upon high school graduation, Cameron entered TCC as a dual credit student. “Honestly, I had not a clue of what I wanted to major in when I graduated from high school.  Realizing early on that I needed more time, my parents suggested that I work toward an associate’s degree. . .so, I could give more thought to a field of study,” said the younger Smith, who will pursue a degree in computer security at Dallas Baptist University.

Check out more graduation stories here:

Lisa Hernandez

Lisa Hernandez says TCC honed her skills. Click image to see video.

Dental Hygiene Graduates

Dental Hygiene graduates are all smiles. Click image to see video.

Shuntae Davis

Shuntae Davis explains why she chose TCC. Click image to see video.

TCC Grads: From Homeless to Hope

Zipper and Rios

Heather Zipper, left, and Greg Rios

Greg Rios and Heather Zipper took different roads to stints in homeless, but shared TCC’s Visions Unlimited Program as their pathway to a better future by earning college degrees .

After losing a public service job and  a series of poor decisions, Rios landed at the Union Gospel Mission. There he learned about Visions Unlimited, a cooperative effort with homeless shelters in Tarrant County that provides the homeless access to higher education.

“It really helped me get back on my feet and get my life back together. TCC has helped me to feel like I have a purpose in life, ” said Rios, a member of Phi Theta Kappa.  He wants to study law so that he can help others in situations similar to what he has been through. “I’m hoping doors will open because I’ve always had a heart to help people.”

Zipper was living at the Salvation Army participating in its First Choice Program when she learned she could continue her education.

Greg Rios at graduation

Greg Rios shows off his graduation medals. Click image to see video.

“Honestly, I really didn’t have the  confidence in myself that I could go back to school,” Zipper said. “It really helped me out for (the program sponsor) to ask me if I did the necessary footwork. I’m grateful for those gentle suggestions.”

Zipper has overcome tremendous challenges to become the first person in her family to graduate.  And, she has done so as the recipient of several academic awards and scholarships.

It is miles from where her life headed.  “Everyone who knew me thought I’d be dead now,” Zipper said.  “When my five-year-old sees me graduate, it’s telling him he can do it.  It’s exciting!”

Check out more graduation stories here:

Visons grads w Chancellor

TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley congratulates Visions Unlimited graduates.


TCC Foundation Continues “Pin” Tradition

TCC Foundation Board Chair Ginny Tigue presents graduate with Alumni Association pin.

TCC’s tradition of giving graduates an antique silver-finish Alumni Association lapel pin, a hearty handshake and an official “Congratulations and welcome to the Alumni Association” continued at Friday’s Commencement Ceremony.

“We are thrilled to welcome our newest alumni, congratulate them on their achievement and offer lifetime support services to help them achieve success,” said Rhonda Seyfried, scholarships and alumni specialist. “We look forward to an exciting year full of growth and opportunity for the TCC Alumni Association and welcome the involvement of our new graduates.”

Seyfried was among the TCC Alumni Association representatives who greeted graduates after they received their degrees. Also sharing in the celebration were foundation board chair Ginny Tigue and member Sean Bryan.  New alumni also were greeted by foundation staff Joe McIntosh, executive director; Liz Sisk and Gary Cumbie, donor relations officers; and Maria Maldonado, administrative assistant.

New alumni only have to wait until next month to get involved. The next alumni event is the Texas Rangers TCC Alumni, Family and Friends Night June 26 at The Ballpark in Arlington. Keep abreast of this and other alumni activities by following the Alumni Association on Facebook at Alumni questions may be directed to the dedicated alumni telephone line at 817-515-5777.

TCC Graduates Share a High-Tech Commencement

TCC commencement 2012

A smartphone is also handy for straightening your cap.

Not only did this year’s commencement feature all of the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” but it was also full of Tweets, live streaming, status updates and picture uploads, as the ceremony went high-tech.

The scene outside of the  Tarrant County Convention Center was typical — friends and family posing for pictures; flowers and balloons being given as congratulatory gifts; kids squirming in their dress clothes.  Once inside, only graduates were allowed in the staging area, which caused many of them to turn to their smartphones to see if their family found good seats, or to advise their friends where to park.

Smartphone at commencement

Graduates were encouraged to share their real-time pictures and comments.

With the pressure of arriving on time and checking in behind them, the graduates found themselves with a little time to kill before the ceremony. So they also used their cell phones to comment on the event, take pictures of fellow graduates, and share them with the outside world.

This year, TCC jumped into the picture-sharing frenzy by offering everyone at the ceremony the opportunity to email their behind-the-scenes shots to TCC’s Flickr Photostream and to post their comments about the ceremony on TCC’s Facebook Page.

TCC Graduate John Humphrey

John Humphrey’s family in England watched him graduate via live streaming.

Graduates were also invited to follow TCC’s Twitter feed  and add their own comments throughout the ceremony. Tweets included bits of advice gleaned from Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley’s speech; friends issuing congratulations; and inspiring words from commencement speaker Danielle Miles, who was also graduating that night.

Those who were unable to attend the ceremony in person could see live video streaming of the commencement online — a TCC first. TCC graduate John Humphrey, who happens to be an English major from England, said he was grateful that his family back home was able to see him graduate.

Web Team at TCC commencement

The TCC web team manages the live social-media feeds during commencement.

So during the long-held graduation tradition of the past, we were able to use the tools of today to watch our graduates step into the future. We can only imagine what next year will look like.

Storify screen capture

Click image to see a compilation of updates and pictures on

Daughter Helped Speaker Succeed

Danielle MilesSeeing her newborn daughter was just the motivation Danielle Miles needed to get her life on track. Living on her own since she was 15, Danielle was on her way to nowhere fast.  “I knew as soon as I had my daughter that the only way to give her the life that I wanted for her was to get an education.”

Danielle’s decision not only to pursue an education but to set high standards for herself is paying off this week. She will deliver the spring 2011 commencement address to her fellow graduates when they receive their degrees Friday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Her speech has multiple purposes. “I want to inspire students to plan to go on and not just stop with their associates (degree),” Danielle said. “I want to motivate those who may have lost their motivation and (anyone who has) given up on their dreams that you always have a chance to go back and make it happen.”

Danielle should know. Overcoming personal challenges, she quickly made up for the time she lost when she dropped out of high school. Danielle has had a spotless academic record while being involved in numerous college organizations. These include Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Delta Delta Vice President of Leadership, Recruitment head, and Induction Committee Head; Cornerstone Honors Program President, Vice President and Service and Learning Committee Head; and W.J. Turner Elementary School Book Drive Collector and W.J. Turner Elementary School Literacy Walk organizer and participant.

As a result of her success at the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association at Southern Methodist University, Danielle has been actively recruited by the University of North Texas coach to join their team next year.  Not only has she been accepted to UNT Honors College to complete double degrees in finance and economics, but she has earned several scholarships including the Outstanding Achievement Award and a transfer award. “I want students to know that if they work hard, their education will pay for itself, even before graduating.”

Danielle already knows how she wants to help others once she completes her studies at a four-year institution. “I want to work for a non-profit and help them take the resources they receive and distribute them so they can make the biggest impact,” said Danielle, describing her long term goals.

Robe, Family Ties Make Graduation Special

It looked like any other graduation regalia. But for Delta Elizabeth Thomas, it was more than the sheen and gathers that set her robe apart. The knowledge that her mother, Delta Glynn Boyd, had worn the same article 30 years ago when she graduated summa cum laude from what was then Tarrant County Junior College made the occasion even more special.

“It was important as I’m. . .following her footsteps. She is the one who taught me about TCC, taught me how to register and always taught me the importance of the mind, intellect and  education,” said the recent TCC graduate, whose mother had worked and raised seven children before pursuing her education. “She made everything a learning experience whether going to the swimming pool or to the museum. It was always an educational experience.”

Collins and supporters

Sharee Crumbey, Carolyn Mason, graduate Jolynda Collins and Deborah Hogan

Delta, joined at graduation by her mother, son, sister, nieces, cousins, uncles and aunts, was one of many graduates whose achievement was supported by a village of loved ones.

Jolynda Collins was joined by friend, Carolyn Mason, and out-of-town relatives, Sharee Crumbey and Deborah Hogan. Deborah and her daughter came to support her niece, who had put her education on hold to care for her ill mother until after her death. “I came here because it’s family. That’s what you do for family. You are there when they need you the most,” said cousin,  Sharee.



Janice and Bob Hammond

Grandparents Janice and Bob Hammond

Grandparents Janice and Bob Hammond were beaming as they waited to see the granddaughter they raised, Natasha Hammond, graduate after working as a fast food manager to put herself through school.  Janice said her granddaughter was so excited that she often said, “If they had let me go to college before high school I would have loved it.”

Some supporters may not have known what was going on, but were there all the same including 9-month-old Michelle Semba, attending graduation with her grandmother, Zinda Semba, and aunt, Tarisha Semba,  to support the accomplishment of her mother, Myeshia Semba.

Myeshia Semba with daughter, Michelle Semba

Myeshia Semba with daughter, Michelle Semba

All Hands on Deck!

TCC employee volunteers backstage going over details of the ceremony Graduates, families, friends, faculty and staff all gathered Friday, May 13 to celebrate our 2011 graduates. This beautiful ceremony, while held in the Fort Worth Convention Center one night a year, is the not only the pinnacle of the diligence of the graduates during their studies here at TCC, but is the culmination of an entire District’s worth of work.

Throughout the year, our faculty, student service areas and campus staff serve as front-line representatives of the College,  assisting students as they work toward their goals of completing degrees or certificates. Educating our community is not small feat, and these employees that interact with our students have the honor of getting to know our students.

Dr. Joy Gates Black, interim president of South Campus When it comes to the commencement ceremony held each year, our campus communities pull together to make sure the graduation experience for our students can’t be rivaled by even the largest university. Campuses hold events for their students, faculty and staff; assist with coordinating transportation of employees to the convention center, ensure all graduates’ names are submitted for the ceremony; and all this while continuing to provide support to the students.

In addition to all the support our campuses provide students during their tenure at TCC, one campus each year serves as the host of commencement. Presiding over the ceremony this year was South Campus’s Interim President Joy Gates Black. As this year’s host, South Campus also provided the musicians and name callers for the ceremony.

The District would like to thank our faculty and campus staff as well as these other departments that make our commencement ceremony possible for their tireless efforts:

  • Police department: provides security, directions, crowd control during the event as well as support after the event
  • Human Resources: arrange shuttles to and from campuses
  • Business services: coordinates regalia and makes sure everyone gets the right gowns and hoods (faculty regalia)
  • Bookstores: distribute student regaliaCacy Barnard and Rick Garcia going over final details
  • Admissions and Records: helps with ordering items needed, secures volunteers, helps with the staging area for graduates and faculty, ensures graduates meet graduation requirements, compiles the list of eligible students, gets diploma covers in order
  • Information Center, College Access, Business Services volunteers: help with staging area, coordinate the processional and recessional flow and ensures it goes as planned, as well as assist graduates backstage with last minute hair or mortar board adjustments
  • Horticulture department at NW Campus: provides plants and mums for décor
  • PR & Marketing, Communications: create commencement website, coordinate photography before and during ceremony, coordinate VIP guest reception, help coordinate communications for graduates, work with TCC Board of Trustees members, post photos online for graduates and families to enjoy
  • Online Support: helps create commencement website
  • Graphics, Print Shop: assist with signage used at convention center and produces the ceremony program
  • Facilities: assists with deliveries and makes sure everything is in place.

Chancellor Hadley works with employees during a ceremony run-through