Two Thomas Nelson Students Receive High Academic Honors | Thomas Nelson Community College

Two Thomas Nelson Students Receive High Academic Honors

May 7, 2021
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Congratulations Erin Davis, recipient of this year's President's Award.

Thomas Nelson Community College named Erin Davis and Britney Jolly as recipients of the 2020-2021 President’s and Vice President’s awards, respectively. In recognition of their exceptional academic performance, the awards will be presented May 13 during the College’s virtual celebration of its 52nd Commencement Exercises. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. and will be accessible at

Criteria for the President’s and Vice President’s awards include attaining a high cumulative grade point average, completing at least 60 semester hours of course work, receiving an associate degree for the current year, and more.

Davis and Jolly are among more than 1,000 students who have applied to graduate during the 2020-2021 academic year. That figure includes students who completed their curriculum requirements in summer 2020, fall 2020, and those who have applied for graduation in spring 2021. During the May 13 ceremony, students will receive associate degrees, career

Davis, who is receiving an associate of applied science degree, enrolled at Thomas Nelson in 2018 planning to make some changes. “When I decided I wanted to switch careers and wanted to work in healthcare, I chose dental hygiene. The Thomas Nelson campus was conveniently located for me and offers an associate degree in dental hygiene. It also has a great reputation for its dental hygiene program,” said Davis.

She entered the program in 2019 and is poised to take the national board exam this month for licensure as a registered dental hygienist. The Tabb High School graduate and mom of two – eight-year-old Matthew and Emily, 5 – appreciates the faculty’s guidance and support throughout her student experience which also included service learning. That component allowed her to volunteer at local dental clinics caring for underserved and in-need individuals. 

“Each one of the dental hygiene clinic faculty members was essential to my success in the program. Each one had their unique methods and perspectives which allowed me to see things from different viewpoints and learn strategies that worked best for me,” said Davis. “My experience at Thomas Nelson has left me fully prepared and confident in my ability to be a successful dental hygienist. The faculty (members) were supportive and worked hard to ensure the success of their students during this unconventional year.”

The program's emphasis on teamwork and inclusion of service learning greatly benefitted Davis. Those aspects carried over into her service as a volunteer with a local non-profit shelter that collects donations and provides food and clothes for those in need. 

“I am so grateful that those experiences were a part of my education,” said Davis, who resides in James City County with her husband, Adam.  

Jolly, a Phi Theta Kappa member since 2017, is receiving an associate of applied science degree in graphic and media design. Personal growth defines her experience at Thomas Nelson given that it allowed her re-set after her initial decision about college.

“After high school, I began attending a four-year college and found that it was not a good fit for me. Once I was able to go back to school, I knew I wanted something different,” said Jolly. “Thomas Nelson was already somewhat familiar since my father took courses there when I was in elementary school, and my grandmother worked there when I was young. It’s also smaller, which helped my anxiety and allowed for more personal contact with my professors.” 

Enrolling Thomas Nelson in 2016 paid off for the Denbigh High School graduate and Newport News resident. She gained the knowledge, training and confidence to become an independent freelance graphic designer.  Through her “B. Jolly Design,” Jolly has done photo restoration, designed logos, and is designing a website for a client this summer.

“My experience at Thomas Nelson has been one of growth. Not only have I learned many new talents in my field that will help me in my current and future career, but I have also come very far when it comes to my mental health,” said Jolly, who battles ADHD.  “I am so grateful for the constant support and encouragement from my professors, and for the services that are available through the Disability Support office. Without them, my family, and close friends, I would not be where I am today.”

The daughter of Newport News residents Jeff and Lynn Jolly, she thanked many faculty members who contributed to her higher education journey and gave special acknowledgment to professors Cece Wheeler and Janice Hathaway of the Arts, Business, Humanities and Social Sciences division.  

As for the future, Davis and Jolly both plan to stay the course of career paths in dental hygiene and graphic design, respectively. 

For details about Thomas Nelson’s May 13 virtual graduation activities, visit