NOVA’s First Winter Commencement Recognizes Continued Student Achievement

December 23, 2021

Last week, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) celebrated our Winter 2021 graduating class at our inaugural Winter Commencement. The commencement theme, “Go Boldly,” exemplified the tenacity of our NOVA Nighthawks as they embarked on the next stage of their journey, and they expressed appreciation to the faculty and staff members who guided them to success.

A winter commencement compilation

“When faced with the unexpected and unprecedented challenges of the past years, your commitment to your goals has not wavered,” said Anne M. Kress, president of NOVA. “You have pushed through the pandemic and shown the grit that becomes greatness and gets you across this stage. Your success is testimony to your dedication and talent, and we are so happy to celebrate you today.”

The college held three commencement ceremonies on Dec. 14, each featuring a notable NOVA alum addressing the graduates as the keynote speaker. Abid Mahmood, Glenda Sorto and Maggie Emblom-Callahan, who all began their educational journeys at NOVA and have returned to dedicate their careers to the college as well, gave heartwarming anecdotes about their time here. Each speaker was introduced by Tenzin Lodoe, student representative to the college board and Annandale Campus student government association president. The remarks concluded with a charge from President Kress before she conferred the degrees on the excited graduates.

For this Winter Commencement, NOVA launched a Meet the Grad series that captured stories of the amazing students who worked to ensure that they crossed the graduation stage proudly, even during challenging times.

Brianna Ontiveros, John-Albert Villanueva and Sarah Dade represent that no matter where you are in life, you can always start, finish or continue your journey at NOVA. These featured stories chronicle the many different types of students that come to NOVA. Ontiveros knew that working toward being a nurse was exactly where she wanted to be. Villanueva started at NOVA, joined the military and knew that coming back to NOVA meant being able to be competitive in the workforce.  Dade, who started her education at NOVA and went on to get her bachelors at Trinity University, returned to NOVA to progress toward a second career path.

The diligence and dedication that all NOVA Nighthawk graduates demonstrate makes it clear that each and every student can come as they are and become who they want to be.  We applaud these students.

To view the ceremonies, click the links below:  

Editor’s Note: Acknowledging the current climate and CDC guidance, as well as VCCS and NOVA policy, all graduates, staff and guests were required to wear a face covering at all times while indoors on NOVA campuses, regardless of vaccination status.


Topics: featured article