Rappahannock Community College will celebrate the Class of 2017 at the 45th annual commencement exercises Friday, May 12, at the Warsaw Campus, 52 College Drive, Warsaw.
Degrees and certificates will be awarded to 821 students, which is an all-time high number, reported president Dr. Elizabeth Crowther.
The commencement speaker will be Jane G. Watkins, former president and chief executive officer of Virginia Credit Union, who presided over a period of remarkable growth for the Richmond-based credit union and a dramatic expansion of service to its members.
Watkins is also known throughout Central Virginia for championing business ethics and for her work with Bon Secours Richmond Health System, the Community Foundation of Richmond and Central Virginia, and the Virginia Council on Economic Education.
Student speaker Evon Cobb attended RCC classes at the King George Site. She started her education after 15 years of service to the state of Maryland Juvenile Justice System.
The next stop in her educational journey will be George Mason University, where she plans to complete her bachelor’s and ultimately earn a master’s in Islamic studies.
Longtime RCC employee, counselor and assistant professor Sandy Darnell will carry the ceremonial mace. She was chosen to carry the mace in recognition of her 25-years of service to the college.
Westmoreland County resident Helen Turner Murphy will be recognized as an honorary graduate of the college. She is a founding local board member of Rappahannock Community College in 1969.
Originally from Richmond, she graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1956 magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Shortly after graduation, she married Northern Neck native, the Hon. W. Tayloe Murphy Jr. The couple moved back to the area in the mid-1960s, where he practiced law and later represented the Northern Neck in the Virginia House of Delegates (1982-2000). He also served as Secretary of Natural Resources from 2002-2008.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Murphy dove into community activities with her characteristic energy and capability and she would soon earn a beloved place in the hearts of her neighbors and among civic organizations for which she volunteered.
Along with Helen’s appointment to the founding RCC local board in 1969, she served when RCC held its first graduation in June 1973; 40 degrees and 11 certificates were conferred. She served on the board until 1982 and was an active member and local advocate of the college.
She was a founding member of The Garden Club of the Northern Neck and served as the President of the Garden Club of Virginia from 1992 to 1994. She served as president of the Menokin Foundation. She also has served on a staggering number of boards, including those of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Virginia Historical Society, The Virginia Nature Conservancy, Saint Margaret’s School, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Preservation Alliance of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
In 1999, Mrs. Murphy was awarded Volunteer of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Central Virginia Chapter for her nonprofit work across the Commonwealth. The Garden Club of Virginia awarded both Mr. and Mrs. Murphy the Massie Medal in 2002 for their efforts in environmental protection and conservation.