PDCCC holds 48th commencement exercises

Published 7:19 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Phyllis Stoneburner received the J. Paul Councill Jr. Community Service Award from Paul D. Camp Community College President Dr. Daniel Lufkin during the graduation ceremony. — Submitted Wendy Harrison

By Wendy Harrison


Nearly 300 degrees and certificates were awarded during Paul D. Camp Community College’s 48th annual graduation ceremony held May 10 at the Regional Workforce Development Center.

Alumna Alice Adoga was the keynote speaker for the event, delivering an inspirational message titled, “Changing Your Default Settings.” Adoga had educational, language and cultural differences to adapt to after moving to the United States from West Africa, Nigeria. She referenced how she became known as the “African girl,” soon after beginning classes at Franklin High School.

“My default changed from Alice to African girl — an identity I did not predict.” Adoga said, “At some point in my journey, it was up to me to take charge of my default settings and change that narrative.”

She compared taking charge of this transformation to that of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly and spoke of what it takes to change perceptions-a positive mindset, taking on challenges that are feared, taking risks and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

“I allowed myself to see the world through my own eyes, experience new things, and changed my default,” she said. “…Twelve years ago, I was an African girl who moved to this country. Today, I am not only that, I am an American citizen, a family services specialist with the Franklin City Department of Social Services, and the director of Operations at a non-profit organization, Walk In It Inc. …The truth is, we are all capable of transforming ourselves by changing our default settings.”

In addition to the conferring of degrees and certificates, the following recognition occurred:

• Two pillars of the community were presented the 2019 J. Paul Councill Jr. Community Service Award, an honor designated for leaders who have given exemplary service to the college and community. Mac Birdsong and Phyllis Stoneburner were the recipients.

Mac Birdsong received the J. Paul Councill Jr. Community Service Award from Paul D. Camp Community College President Dr. Daniel Lufkin during the graduation ceremony. — Submitted Wendy Harrison

Birdsong has served on the PDCCC Foundation Board for six years. In addition to his individual contributions to the college, he was instrumental in securing the Birdsong Corporation’s commitment of $150,000 to build a regional LPN program; $75,000 for the Warehouse and Distribution Center opening this summer, and $50,000 from Birdsong Trust to implement the Fast Track Healthcare program in downtown Suffolk. The remodeling and renovation of the Nursing Skills Lab nor the launch of the LPN program based on the Hobbs Suffolk Campus would be in existence without his support.

Stoneburner, recently retired as Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Sentara Obici Hospital. She serves on numerous community committees and boards, including the PDCCC Nursing and Allied Health Advisory Board. As a member of this Board since 2005, she has provided insight and assisted the program with advisement in the areas of multiple program development. It is because of her relationship with PDCCC, the college has received many donations to the Nursing and Allied Health programs. She has always taken time out of her busy schedule to visit with the students and to assist or advise the Nursing and Allied Health Department.

• High School Career Coach, Academic Advisor and Adjunct Instructor Susan Stubenrauch was selected by her peers to receive the 2018-19 PDCCC Award for Excellence in Education. This annual recognition at the College is awarded to one who has made significant contributions and has shown commitment to the College and its community.  She has demonstrated that she is an exemplary liaison between the high schools and PDCCC and is unequivocally devoted to her students. Unfortunately, she was not able to attend the event.

• Omega Zeta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society President Cynthia Gurst-Seigler recognized outstanding graduates, which included those earning cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude, as well as members of the Paul D. Camp Community College Chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success and members of the Omega Zeta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Veterans and active duty members of the armed forces were asked to stand for recognition by PDCCC President Dr. Dan Lufkin.

• Dual enrollment student graduates, as well as Environment Sustainability Scholar Latisha Battle, were recognized by Dr. Tara Atkins-Brady. The sustainability program’s focus is on teaching outstanding resource stewardship and raising awareness of how green practices can be incorporated into all aspects of life. Students in this program are required to complete 15 credits of related coursework.

The Franklin High School ROTC conducted the Color Guard presentation and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Brittnee Ricks Randolph, 2010 Alumna, sang the “National Anthem.”