Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation Day at PVCC

Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) held its 37th annual commencement exercises on Friday, May 14.  Nearly 500 students became alumni at a hilltop ceremony that ended just in time for a harsh thunderstorm to blow across the Charlottesville area; the first raindrops fell within minutes of the end of the recessional and the beginning of the punch-and-pinwheel reception under tents near the college's main academic building.

Virginia's new secretary of education, Gerard Robinson, was the featured graduation speaker.  Robinson is himself an alumnus of a community college (El Camino Community College in California) and he also has a bachelor's degree from Howard University and a master's degree in education from Harvard.  Before taking on his responsibilities as a member of Governor Bob McDonnell's cabinet, Robinson was president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), a national organization advocating family choice in education.

The student speaker at the ceremony was Joshua Robert Mlcoch of Lovingston in Nelson County, who earned two degrees from PVCC -- one in liberal arts, the other in computer science.  Acknowledging the threatening weather, Mlcoch began his remarks by saying, "I come with thunder and lightning."

The commencement ceremony began with the national anthem, sung by PVCC student James A. Tubbs:
Secretary Robinson was introduced by J. Walter Levering, chair o the Piedmont Virginia Community College Board. Robinson was an ideal graduation speaker, as his remarks lasted only about 8 minutes.
Joshua Mlcoch was introduced by Dr. John R. Donnelly, PVCC's vice president for instruction and student services. Donnelly noted how impressed he was by Mlcoch's ubiquity on the PVCC campus and remarked upon similarities between himself and the student speaker. Mlcoch also kept his speech short, a model for such addresses, regardless of whether the weather is threatening or not:
NBC29 has a short report on the PVCC commencement here. Saturday's Daily Progress report is here, and the Newsplex report, including video, is here.

UPDATE, June 2:  My interview with Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson is now available for reading on

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