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News Brief

Call to Action: Portsmouth students commit to student success

Real talk.

That’s what students at TCC’s Portsmouth Campus heard during the Call to Action Rally that attracted hundreds to the Quad.

The event was part of a nationwide challenge supported by Phi Theta Kappa that promotes college completion. The initiative is seeking to increase the number of community college certificates and associate degrees by five million in the next 10 years.

“I need everybody to embrace what is being said today,” said Provost Michelle Woodhouse. “Our goal is to work with you to achieve and to commit to student success.”

Enter guest speaker Adolph Brown, in disheveled attired that included sagging pants, a do-rag and an oversized red jacket.

“I used to be dressed like this, and it would take me 20 minutes to take four steps,” he said. “If you move on up, there are some things you have to leave behind!”

Disrobing to the tune of The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ on Up,” Brown emerged in a suit and then a college robe, announcing, “I’m tired of students who participate in the classroom then flunk in life.”

The college robe, he added, is “One size fits all.”

“You’re movin’ on up!” he told the engaged students. “Real talk!”

“Real talk!” they echoed back.

The Portsmouth native emerged from a single-family welfare home – his oldest brother was killed when Brown was 11 – to being the first of his four siblings to graduate from high school and attend college.

Brown graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1991, earned a master’s the following year and a doctorate from the Virginia Consortium for Professional Psychology.

Brown stressed that it takes a village to achieve student success, and the faculty and staff at TCC are integral to that village. His own village included current Dean of Student Services Bertha Escoffrey.

“She saw something in me,” he said.

Brown stressed the importance of education, noting, “Once you get an education, it’s yours to keep.” Acknowledging that we all endure personal storms in life, he said, “When things go wrong, you don’t have to go with them.”

“This has to be the best year ever! Make this year better than last year, this month better than last month, this week better than last week, this day better than yesterday. Keep getting better!”

Students concluded the inspiring afternoon by lining up to sign a pledge promising to complete their degrees.