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Announces new name for advisory group

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (May 10, 2010) – The Women’s Center of Tidewater Community College announces its 2010 scholarship award winners. Two students – Pashyon Blake and Atara McGill – were selected to receive the Mary Pat Liggio Student Leadership Award. Liggio, who retired in 2008, was the founding director of TCC’s Women’s Center.

Scholarship winners Atara McGill, left, and Pashyon Blake pose with former NASA astronaut Susan Kilrain, center.

Pashyon Blake of Virginia Beach credits TCC with being her support system in trying times. “TCC became a welcoming second home as I found my way through my first time in college and my first time away from family,” she says. As she received her award, Blake noted the famous quote of Isaac Newton about standing on the shoulders of giants, thanking the Women’s Center and TCC “for being my giant.”

A native of Jacksonville, N.C., she first left home after marrying husband Robert, a staff sergeant in the Marines stationed in Hampton Roads. An only child, Blake lost her mom during her time at TCC. “It was difficult and I had to return home to handle things, but I was still able to complete my degree,” she adds. Blake earns her associate degree this May and will pursue baccalaureate studies at North Carolina State University, after the couple returns to the area this summer. She plans to work toward a master’s degree in social work, to fulfill her dream of providing counseling services for military families.

Atara McGill of Norfolk, mother of three children, had a rocky start with college life. After several years on the wrong path, she found her way at the TCC Norfolk Campus. Active with the Open Door Project and the Women’s Center, McGill credits her TCC “network coaches” for helping her focus on coursework and take the steps to ensure success. “They were so encouraging to me,” McGill says. “The helped realize the value in me and others, and saw us as ‘diamonds in the rough.’”

McGill is working on her associate degree and plans to pursue a bachelor’s at Regent University. Her career goal: to stay in Norfolk and enrich young minds as a middle school math teacher. “I love children and I can definitely work with them.”

Blake and McGill received the scholarship award at the Women’s Center’s annual leadership breakfast, hosted May 4 by TCC President Deborah M. DiCroce, with an address by Susan Kilrain, commander, U.S. Navy (retired) and a former NASA astronaut.

The event also included announcement of a new name for the Women’s Center’s advisory group: Network for Empowering Women Students (NEWS). The new name better captures the evolving mission to empower all women students at TCC.

For more information about the Women’s Center, with offices on each of TCC’s four campuses, visit, or call TCC’s Information Center at 822-1122.


Laurie White

Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of higher education and Workforce Solutions services in Hampton Roads - will serve a projected 46,000 students in 2009-10. The 15th highest associate-degree producer in the nation, TCC offers more than 150 programs including business administration, culinary arts, general studies, modeling & simulation, network security, nursing, and automotive technology. Among the fastest-growing two-year institutions in the United States, TCC was founded in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System. The college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk’s theater district, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth, the Regional Automotive Center in Chesapeake, and the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-six percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information, visit