TNCC to Present Special Awards During the 42nd Commencement Ceremony

Published: April 19, 2011

Thomas Nelson Community College will present several special awards during its 42nd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 14 to honor citizens who champion higher education and public service. The 10:00 a.m. ceremony takes place at the Hampton University Convocation Center with presentation of the Thomas Nelson Medallion, Dana B. Hamel Award the annual Distinguished Alumni Award and an Honorary Associate of Humane Letters Degree by TNCC President Alvin J. Schexnider.

The Thomas Nelson Medallion honors citizens who exemplify the spirit and highest ideals of Thomas Nelson – patriot, soldier-statesman and governor. The recipient is:

  • The Honorable McKinley L. Price is native of Newport News, Virginia and was elected as mayor of Newport News in 2010. Dr. Price has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Hampton University, a doctoral degree in Dental Surgery from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and completed a general anesthesia residency at Provident Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The former member and past chairman of the TNCC Board is a Fellow in the Virginia Dental Association, the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists. He has received numerous honors and awards including the President’s Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Peninsula Chapter of 100 Black Men (1994), the Presidential Citizenship Award from Hampton University (1996) and the Peninsula Chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice’s Humanitarian Award (1996). He was also recognized as “Citizen of the Year” by the Daily Press in 2005 for co-chairing People to People, an organization dedicated to improving race relations and the quality of life in Newport News.

The Dana B. Hamel Award recognizes individuals for their commitment to public service; to fostering access to higher education; and promoting an understanding of the role of workforce development as an essential part of TNCC’s mission. The award is named in honor of Dr. Dana B. Hamel, the first Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS), and an individual who personifies the attributes associated with this recognition. This year’s recipients are:

  • The Honorable Molly Joseph Ward served six years as Treasurer for the City of Hampton before being elected Mayor in 2008. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia and Juris Doctorate from the College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law. Mayor Ward also practices with McDermott and Ward, P.C., a law firm with offices in Hampton and Williamsburg. Her civic affiliations and memberships include Virginia State Bar, Fort Monroe Authority (Executive Committee and Board Member), Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (Vice Chair), Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (Board Member), Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (Vice Chair), and Peninsula Food Bank (past president and board member), to note a few. Additionally, she has several gubernatorial appointments including Virginia College Building Authority (named board member by Gov. Mark Warner), Virginia Outdoors Foundation (named trustee by Gov. Tim Kaine) and Operational Review Task Force of the Commonwealth’s Accounts Receivable, Local Government (selected as representative by Gov. Bob McDonnell).
  • Mr. John F. Biagas is owner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bay Electric Company, Inc. which serves clients throughout the Southeastern United States. The youngest of 14 children, he joined his brothers and sisters working in the family’s business, Biagas & Son’s Electric, owned and operated by his father, Alvin Biagas, Sr. After studying business management and accounting at McNeese State University, he joined three of his older brothers in Maryland forming their own electrical and general contracting business, AVA Electric. In 1997, he purchased Bay Electric Co., Inc. and moved his family to Newport News, Virginia, corporate headquarters of Bay Electric. Mr. Biagas serves on numerous boards including An Achievable Dream, Young Presidents’ Organization, Virginia Company Bank (founding member), Boys & Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula, Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council and York Foundation for Public Education, and was appointed to the Governor’s Economic Development & Job Creation Commission, the Governor’s Supplier Diversity Advisory Board and the Virginia Apprenticeship Council. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with his wife and their two daughters.

The College’s Distinguished Alumni Award acknowledges those who have displayed outstanding leadership, professional qualities and have made significant contributions to their profession, business and/or community at local, national and/or international levels. This year’s award recipient is:

  • Mr. Everett H. Jordan, Jr., keynote speaker for this year’s commencement exercises, is Director of Education for Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School. Mr. Jordan is a 1977 graduate of The Apprentice School and attended TNCC. He represents Poquoson as a member of the TNCC Board and has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Saint Leo University and a Master’s degree in Education from The George Washington University. Additionally, Mr. Jordan has a 37-year history with Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, beginning his career in 1973 as a shipfitter apprentice. He has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility ranging from foreman to trades director. As Director of Education for the company’s 91-year-old apprentice program, he is responsible for all aspects of the four- to five-year program, ensuring that qualified candidates are educated and trained to become the company’s leaders of tomorrow.

VCCS awards an Honorary Associate Degree of Humane Letters to acknowledge individuals who have achieved significant success in their personal and public lives; individuals from within the College’s service area who have contributed to the progress and development of the College; and citizens of the Commonwealth who have contributed to the progress and development of the VCCS. An Honorary Associate degree will be presented this year to:

  • Mr. Charlie Hill retired from Norfolk-based Landmark Communications, Inc. as Executive Vice President for Human Resources in 2008. A native of Newport News, Virginia, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Virginia State College, an MBA from Hampton University  and also studied at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business. Mr. Hill is co-founder and President of the Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum (HRPHF) and regularly speaks to audiences throughout Hampton Roads encouraging men to participate in prostate cancer early detection events. He collaborated with his wife, Golden Bethune-Hill, also a co-founder of the HRPHF, and other community leaders to establish the Community Free Clinic of Newport News which opened in November 2010 to provide primary and dental care for uninsured residents of the Virginia Peninsula. He enlisted the help of TNCC’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team to develop marketing plans for the HRPHF and the Free Clinic to assist in formally launching their respective awareness and education programs. His civic affiliations include HRPHF (board member), Community Free Clinic (board member), Crispus Attucks Cultural Center (board member, past president), the Corporate Advisory Board of the Darden Graduate School of Business, the INROADS Mid-Atlantic Regional Board of Directors, the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Advisory Council of Hampton Roads and the Hampton Roads Health Coalition. Additionally, he was a 2011 member of the CIVIC Leadership Institute class, the National Association of Minorities in Cable Hall of Fame, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., the NAACP (life member), the 100 Black Men of the Virginia Peninsula Chapter and an Elder at Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church, Newport News.

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