Nighthawk Finds NOVA Is Best Path to Her Passions: Music and Studying Languages

June 23, 2023

As far back as Britney Phillips can remember, she could sing! She realized she had a gift after singing in front of people and seeing their reactions. This encouragement from others inspired her to start really focusing on her singing in elementary school, and eventually, she began training with voice coaches.  

Britney Phillips 

Another thing she discovered when she was younger was her love of learning a foreign language. Britney had been learning Chinese as a hobby for most of her life, and eventually, she realized it was the perfect thing to study in college. Britney received advice that she should pursue a career in an area she has a passion for, and that's why she will be getting her bachelor's in foreign languages. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background: 
My parents immigrated from Mozambique, and they speak Portuguese. Also, they speak Changana, which is native to Mozambique. In the future, I want to learn those languages, too.  

When I was younger, I attended a Chinese learning program. It was called Hope Chinese School and was held at Annandale High School on weekends. One of my friends attended the classes, and my mother decided it would also be good for me. I tried it, and to this day, I still find the Chinese language fascinating.   

In Chinese, there are different tones to most of the vowels. This was really cool to learn because it's something that we don't have in the English language. It's interesting to learn about different things that exist in other languages.  

I attended J.W. Alvey Elementary School in Haymarket, Va. and was part of the Singing Sunrays. I attended Charles J. Colgan Senior High School’s Center for the Fine and Performing Arts in Manassas. I auditioned for the voice specialty program and was excited to get in. While there, I joined the choir, which was an amazing experience. Even though Colgan was far from where I lived, it was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about singing. I also participated in the All-County Choir in elementary school and in my sophomore year of high school. 

Singing is a hobby I still enjoy, and it's what I do in my free time. If I had to describe it in three words, I'd use relaxing, fun and freeing. 

I finished high school in three years, graduating from Colgan in 2021. I finished early by taking online classes each summer. It's also why most of my NOVA classes are online. I find them convenient for my lifestyle, and I am familiar with the program. I always joke that I'm an online veteran because I've taken many online courses.   

Before NOVA, I went to Hofstra University in New York for a semester and took computer science. Although it was very interesting, I found out that it wasn't my true passion.  I did get the experience of being on campus, which was cool, and I really enjoyed living in a different state.  

But in the spring of 2022, I transferred to NOVA. I was a little homesick, and it was nice to live with my family again. I still wouldn't change the situation, however. I love to travel, and it was cool being in a big city and meeting new people. I hope to travel more in the future, especially to China, so that I can learn more about Chinese culture. 

What brought you to NOVA?  
My mother, Solinda Phillips, went to NOVA, and then to George Mason. She recommended I explore the large selection of academic programs NOVA offers. I'm not going to NOVA because my mom went there. I'm going because NOVA best suits my path toward the future I envision. 

It's funny because whenever we go to the Manassas Campus, which is the one closest to my house, there's a lady who works in the front desk area, and my mom commented that she's the same woman who worked there when she was going to NOVA. 

What are you studying at NOVA?  
I am enrolled in the ADVANCE program, which means I am both a NOVA and George Mason University student. My associate degree is in liberal arts, and I am studying foreign languages with a concentration in Chinese, one of my favorite courses at NOVA. Once I complete my associates degree at NOVA, I will continue toward getting my bachelor’s degree at George Mason University. 

Learning new languages will give me the ability to communicate with more of the world. If you only speak one language, you can only communicate with a very small percentage of the world. I will appreciate more art and music and be able to view other media by learning more languages. 

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.  
I have learned so much about the world through my courses at NOVA: Chinese with Professor Dali Tan, taking Humanities 296 with various professors, Logic with Professor Daniel Meshel, College Success Skills with Professor Monique Cowell, etc.  

At this point, I have done three semesters of Chinese with Professor Dali Tan. I've found that I have learned even more than I thought I did. She is a really good professor, and she's the kind of teacher who genuinely cares about helping her students retain knowledge and learn as much as possible.  

In addition, she has provided us with various opportunities to learn more about Chinese and Chinese Culture through events outside the classroom. Professor Tan organized field trips to the China Folk House, the Library of Congress and the State Department. I learned a lot about Chinese culture from these experiences and learned about potential jobs. I wouldn't have had those opportunities otherwise. 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?  
Try to enjoy your experience and get the most out of it. NOVA is very flexible.  

Many people may look at NOVA and say it's just a two-year community college, but I've learned so much from being here and appreciate it. NOVA offers many resources to its students, such as field trips, counseling, events and opportunities to explore career options. I'd recommend taking advantage of these resources. 

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring? 
I have about two more semesters left. Then, I'll transfer to Mason since I am in the ADVANCE program. After I finish learning Chinese, I will study more foreign languages. I hope to find a career where I can utilize my knowledge of Chinese. I'd eventually like to work at either FEMA or the State Department. 

Topics: featured article, student success