Accessibility Navigation:


A Message from NOVA President, Dr. Anne M. Kress on National Poetry Month and Community College Month

Dr. Kress

April is National Poetry Month, and NOVA Professor Nicole Tong, who serves as Fairfax County Poet Laureate, has been highlighting “living poets” via her Twitter account @poetryliveshere—encouraging all of us to recognize the remarkable poets whose work captures the current moments and lives around us. (By the way, one such poet is NOVA alum and Prince William County Poet Laureate Kim B. Miller.)

April is also Community College Month, which serves to elevate our students, faculty, and the work of our colleges. If you’re looking for ways to advocate for community colleges and share our stories, NOVA’s Quick Facts are available as are national data on community colleges from AACC, and ACCT offers a great toolkit.

So, today, in honor of both months, I share a poem by the first (and, thus far, only) community college faculty member ever named US Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. A Pulitzer Prize winner, MacArthur fellow, past Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, longtime California community college faculty member, and a community college alum, she used her post as Poet Laureate to raise the visibility of community colleges, our outstanding faculty, and our amazing students.

“Stardust” is one of my favorite Kay Ryan poems, and as a faculty member, I found it both comforting and poignant. It captures the desire to be understood in the face of the near impossibility of ever perfectly explaining anything to another. For “something” to be known, completely, is as ineffable as stardust.

By Kay Ryan

Stardust is
the hardest thing
to hold out for.
You must
make of yourself
a perfect plane—
something still
upon which
something settles—
something like
sugar grains
on something
metal, but with
none of the chill.
It’s hard to explain.

Submitted by:
Anne Kress, President,

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.