Fifth SNAP Graduation Celebrates Largest Cohort | Thomas Nelson Community College

Fifth SNAP Graduation Celebrates Largest Cohort

June 29, 2018
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Thomas Nelson celebrated its largest cohort of the EleVAte SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP) program on Friday, June 22. The celebration recognized the accomplishments of 60 students who earned credentials in career readiness, digital literacy, welding, apartment maintenance, HVAC, trades electrician, cybersecurity/ information technology, certified medial administrative assistant and occupational safety.

Rapid Response coordinator Curtis Wray served as the keynote speaker.

“My impassioned message to you today is don’t change your pace. From this day forward, don’t change your pace,” said Wray, who has conducted Rapid Response services in Southeast Eastern Virginia for more than 11 years. Wray continued by offering short antidotes to the audience.

“Success does not come without a price, without effort or without sacrifice,” he added. “The race of life is a long game. The only way to win it is to be in it. You may not get the first job, but keep trying, keep running. You keep running hard until you decide what your success is. And don’t forget, don’t change your pace.”

Students shared a new rendition of the song “Believe,” originally written by SNAP instructor Tina Micula. The song has been performed at every SNAP graduation in a different way, including rap and a few soulful solos, allowing students to highlight their talents. Loretta Taylor, a current SNAP student, delivered a spoken word performance that can be seen at

“This program enabled us to move forward in life to take care of ourselves and our family and I just want to say thank you,” stated Nia Avery, a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant graduate.

 The EleVAte SNAP Employment and Training pilot program is a three-year grant from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service awarded to 10 states nationwide. The largest award went to the Virginia Department of Social Services, with Virginia's Community Colleges (VCCS) the primary official sub-recipient.

Thomas Nelson is one of seven VCCS schools offering the program.