TNCC’s First Honors Program Students to Graduate May 13

Published: May 13, 2008

Four Thomas Nelson Community College students scheduled to graduate on May 13 are the College’s first Honors Program graduates. The 7:00 p.m. commencement ceremony will be held at the Hampton Coliseum.

Eduardo Davila-Reyes, Shea Degruy, Thomas Dale Hill and Tyrone Norman earned Honors distinction by successfully completing 15 or more credit hours of Honors-level courses and at least one semester of the Honors colloquium series ? a sequence of seminars and themed group activities. The students also performed well in their regular courses maintaining a 3.25 or greater grade point average throughout their enrollment at TNCC, according to the College’s Honors Coordinator Dr. Linda Haugh.

“[They] are our first so needless to say, we are very proud of their accomplishments. Each one has been extremely conscientious is pursuing this accomplishment. They certainly represent the caliber of student for whom the program was designed,” says Dr. Haugh who is also a Psychology professor and department head.

About the students:

Eduardo Davila-Reyes – Davila-Reyes, 28, is set to receive Associate of Science degrees in both Social Science and Business Administration. He became a TNCC student in 2005 and established a presence through participation in several student organizations and campus activities. His memberships include Phi Theta Kappa and Science Club while he also tutored fellow students roughly 20 hours a week and was named to the All–Virginia Academic Team. The U.S. Army veteran, who has combat experience in recent U.S. military operations, also participated in student volunteer clean-up projects at local waterways.

Davila-Reyes, an aspiring pharmacist and Newport News resident, will attend the College of William and Mary to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Biology or Neuroscience. He said plans are to ultimately earn a doctoral degree in pharmacy. He believes the Honors Program aptly equipped him for the rigors of the academic challenges he’s about to face.

“It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for me and I’m glad I had a chance to be in the program. The biology component was especially helpful with the career I’m pursuing. I highly recommend it to others because it exposes you to a totally different aspect of your course work and the instructors for all of the classes are excellent,” said Davila-Reyes.

Shea Degruy – Degruy enrolled at TNCC in 2005 to pursue an Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration. The New Orleans native said returning to school at age 28 was a daunting prospect at first. He credits the Honors Program for giving him a huge surge of confidence.

“I chose a two-year school because I wanted to get my feet wet; I graduated from high school in 1998 so I was a little nervous thinking about sitting in a classroom full of 18-year-olds. Someone mentioned the Honors Program to me so I decided to try it. It was a lot easier than I’d anticipated and it really helped me get over my fear by showing me that I could do anything,” said Degruy, noting that he highly recommends the Honors Program to anyone looking for a more profound college class experience.

The U.S. Navy veteran has lived in Hampton since 2004 along with his wife, Lelani and their son, Shea Jr., age 4. Degruy aspires to a career in corporate finance upon earning a bachelor’s degree in finance (with a track in real estate) from Old Dominion University. His alternate plans involve becoming an entrepreneur.

Thomas Dale Hill – Having enrolled at TNCC in 2005, Hill is scheduled to receive an Associate of Science Degree in Biology and has applied to the College of William and Mary with plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biology. The 21-year-old juggled a schedule of attending classes, working a part time job and periodically working with his father’s construction company to arrive at graduation day and despite the challenging balancing act, he prevailed. He attributes his success to the Honors Program. “Taking Honors courses was really advantageous. It gave me a deeper understanding of the course work, a greater appreciation for my professors and teachers — who are all amazing — and it opened up an opportunity for me to be invited to the honor society,” said Hill.

Hill, a Newport News native and Gloucester resident, is aiming for a career as a researcher in the marine science field. His ideal employer is Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Tyrone Norman – Eighteen-year-old Norman will receive an Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration. This fall the Hampton resident will begin working towards a bachelor’s degree in the same field at the College of William and Mary. He lauded the Honors Program at TNCC, calling the instructors he encountered while in the program “extremely phenomenal.”

“I gained a lot of knowledge and great classroom experiences while in the program. The attention I received [as a result of] the smaller class sizes and the access I had to my professors and instructors was the greatest experience I’ve had as a student,” said Norman.

The Honors Program exists throughout Virginia Community College System’s 23 colleges with TNCC meeting the most “best practices” goals for the program, noted Dr. Haugh. “Honors programs at community colleges are definitely growing across the country … The Honors designation makes students more competitive when applying to four-year schools or for employment.” She praised the faculty’s dedication to providing the intensive work required by the program, commended the Honors Council for its guidance and thanked all TNCC staffers who ensure that qualified students are identified for participation in the program. “In the three years I have been Honors Coordinator, I have come to appreciate how many ‘hands’ is takes to make this experience available to our students.”

The Honors Programs affords its students such benefits as smaller class sizes, mentorship through greater access to faculty, and eligibility for invitation to the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa, among other advantages. Detailed information about the Honors Program at TNCC is available at

Release #08-0534

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