Despite the rainy weather, hundreds gathered at Rappahannock Community College’s Warsaw Campus May 12 to watch their loved ones end a chapter and begin a new one. Thanks to hard work and dedication, over 400 became RCC alumni and will move on to their chosen careers or will transfer to a four-year school of their choice.
This marked the 45th annual commencement ceremony and by far, the largest group of certificates and degrees ever awarded.
“I’m really proud of both our student and faculty distinctions,” said president Dr. Elizabeth Crowther.
She noted RCC has the top ranked collegiate nursing program in Virginia, a number three ranking for community colleges in use of technology, and a “Best Place to Work” from the Chronicle of Higher Education for two years running.
“I’m really happy, students, that you can come out having left us better and giving us a chance to contribute to your success,” said Dr. Crowther. She also expressed gratitude to the families of the graduates for their encouragement and support.
The student representative for the Class of 2017 was Evon Cobb, who took most of her classes at the RCC King George Site. Cobb, who will continue her education at George Mason University, shared both her thoughts on graduation and her time at the College, as she held back tears.
“Thank you friends, students and faculty for being great listeners and for your attention, support and time,” said Cobb. “Congratulations to the Class of 2017 and much success to all of you.”
The college also awarded an honorary associate of arts to Helen Turner Murphy of Westmoreland County. Murphy was an original college board member who was instrumental in developing the two-campus institution in 1970. She and her husband, Tayloe, have been strong RCC supporters and are devoted to mentoring area youth.
The keynote speaker was the former president and chief executive officer of Virginia Credit Union, Jane G. Watkins. She had a pointed message to the Class of 2017, which she hoped they would remember for the days and years of work to come.
“I’m here to tell you, don’t wait until your retirement to live and have fun,” said Watkins. “Make sure you’re enjoying your work every day. Do what you love and you will love your work.”
Watkins admitted that at the start of her career, she was unsure if she wanted to be the chief executive of a large credit union. She was, after all, a CPA by training, and was not sure if she wanted to deal with office politics or all of the speeches she would have to make in the role.
She made the decision to take the job and even after 34 years with Virginia Credit Union, she still “loved the job,” thanks to the role in which she played in making financial literacy a mission of the credit union, she said.
“You need to find that worthy purpose in your everyday work, where you provide value and can make a difference,” said Watkins. “Make it your passion. That passion and vision is what will bring you fulfillment.”