Jack Bowden and Jasmane Ormond, who both began their college careers at Thomas Nelson in 2013, are set to graduate from the College of William & Mary in May.
Jasmane Ormond is majoring in accounting with a concentration in finance and has accepted a tax associate job with KPMG in Richmond. Jack Bowden is a computer science major who is mulling multiple offers to become a software developer. She is a 30-year-old from Newport News and has two children. He’s a 23-year-old from Williamsburg.
As for their similarities, they both will graduate in May from the College of William & Mary (W&M). They both began their higher education journeys six years ago in fall 2013 at Thomas Nelson Community College. And both give a lot of credit for their success to the college where it all began.
“This is a non-starter without Thomas Nelson. I couldn’t even imagine being here without Thomas Nelson,” Bowden said. “They were directly and indirectly responsible for everything leading me to come to William & Mary.”
Ormond relayed similar thoughts.
“I don’t think I would have ever touched this place (W&M) if I didn’t go to Thomas Nelson,” she said.
Ormond was working as a waitress at a Williamsburg restaurant when she decided to go back to school. Her daughter was entering kindergarten, and Ormond always told herself she would go back to school once her daughter started school. Her plan was to go through a computer arts program to earn a workforce certificate.
“I was going to do just the two-year program and be on my way. But that didn’t happen,” she said. “Two (years) turned into six real quick.”
She said during her first semester at Thomas Nelson, her professors discovered some of her strengths. She soon became interested in law school, and thought about W&M. She did co-enrollment, taking four semesters of Latin at W&M and the rest of her courses at Thomas Nelson. After graduating from Thomas Nelson with a GPA of nearly 4.0 and multiple academic honors, she was accepted at W&M.
Three years later, she’s preparing for another graduation ceremony. Reflecting on everything, she realizes her time at Thomas Nelson wasn’t all about the classroom.
“Thomas Nelson gave me confidence, too,” she said. “They taught me how to use my voice and be more confident.”
Practical reasons led Bowden to Thomas Nelson. While in high school, he got an internship with York County School Division's information technology department. He said he was told he could stay on the job if he remained in the area.
“I said if I went to Thomas Nelson, I could make this happen,” he said. “It would give me a (leg) up on the career of my choice.”
So he entered Thomas Nelson in fall 2013 and earned an associate degree in Social Science in summer 2016, taking classes at both campuses. More than 5½ years will have passed from the time he began at Thomas Nelson to the time he graduates from W&M. But he has never forgotten where the journey began.
“One hundred percent, I would say that Thomas Nelson played a big role,” he said. “I underestimated Thomas Nelson’s ability to propel me to where I am right now. I don’t think I could convince a former self of mine that this was going to happen.”
A SHARED PASSION
Both count involvement in Thomas Nelson's Student Government Association (SGA) among their most memorable experiences at the College. As a matter of fact, Ormond was the SGA president and Bowden was vice president in 2015-16, their last year at Thomas Nelson.
Ormond got involved almost by accident. She noticed a call out for students to participate in the school’s annual trip to the General Assembly in Richmond for meetings with lawmakers who represent Thomas Nelson's service area. She thought it would be interesting to meet politicians, so she signed up for the trip.
“I joined the senate (at Thomas Nelson) after the trip,” she said. “It just took off from there. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I learned to do it while I was there.”
Although not involved in student government at W&M, Ormond is a president's aide. So, she is involved in student issues, just not in a formal way.
Bowden’s passion for politics has continued at W&M, where one of his many roles is as a senator on the senior class’s delegation to the student assembly senate.
“It stems largely from how I served at Thomas Nelson and the experiences I had there,” he said.
Brian Croteau, an adjunct faculty at Thomas Nelson who had Bowden in Western Civilization, isn’t surprised by Bowden’s continued interest and success in politics.
“He seems to have learned well the political balance of catering to your constituency while pleasing the power structure at the same time,” Croteau wrote in an email.
FROM 2013 TO 2019
When their higher educational aspirations began six years ago, neither imagined they would be where they are now. However, they have enjoyed all aspects of it.
“The journey in itself is what matters,” Ormond said.
“It’s been a really long process,” Bowden said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about it, though.”
Neither one has forgotten the role Thomas Nelson has played.
“That school took such good care of me,” Ormond said.
“Me, too,” Bowden added.