May 1, 2012
Two Student Speakers Highlight Ceremony: A 41 Year-Old Air Force Veteran Who Broke the Glass Ceiling as an Aircraft Mechanic & A Poetry/Hip Hop Performance Entrepreneur and GRAMMY Awards Intern
(Columbia, MD) --- At a time when community colleges are the fastest growing sector of higher education and are providing hope to those who cannot afford four-years of college, Howard Community College (HCC) will graduate the largest class in its 41-year history on Tuesday, May 22, at 2 p.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion. After five years, the college is returning to Merriweather Post Pavilion to accommodate an increased number of HCC graduates and their proud guests. For the 2011-2012 academic year, there are a total of 1,076 candidates for May commencement, with approximately 400+ candidates expected to participate in the annual ceremony; a total of 1,171 degrees/certificates will have been earned this year. Interestingly enough, the college graduated a total of 899 students for the 2010-2011 academic year; 942 degrees/certificates were earned.
The Arts & Humanities Division’s Inspiring Faculty of the Year for 2011-2012, Dr. Helen Buss Mitchell, professor of philosophy and director of women’s studies at HCC, will address the college’s 41st graduating class. Dr. Mitchell is sought after widely on national and regional levels as a scholar, an editor, and a speaker. She was honored in 1999 by the Howard County Commission for Women and inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Two dynamic students have been selected to address their peers during the ceremony:
US Air Force Veteran Broke the Glass Ceiling as One of Few Women Aircraft Mechanics
Forty-one year old Danielle Allison was raised by a single-mother who dropped out of 10th grade. Danielle is the first in her family to step foot in a college and graduate. Growing-up as a latch-key child on government assistance, Danielle wanted much more for herself. She received almost full-scholarship assistance to attend an art institute in Maryland, but with no guidance to help her navigate college, Danielle left six months later. After working many jobs, including as a dishwasher in a nursing home, Danielle returned to the institute two years later but left after yet another semester. She returned to her mother’s house, walked down the street, saw a recruiter’s office, and joined the Air Force.
Danielle scored perfectly on three of the four sections of the military entrance test and scored higher than most applicants in the area of mechanics. Knowing the field was especially male-dominated, she pursued the area deliberately as a purposeful and rewarding challenge. The Air force then trained her to be a C141 crew chief and dispatched her to Tacoma, Washington. As she had anticipated, Danielle was one of very few women out of 1500 men working as an aircraft mechanic for large cargo planes. She worked hard to defy the “boy’s club,” and proved herself as she worked alongside her colleagues changing 400 lb. tires, installing aerospace equipment, troubleshooting mechanical failures, and more. She broke the glass ceiling and earned their respect as one of the flight line’s most competent aircraft mechanics.
Married for 16 years and the mother of one daughter, Danielle started HCC in the fall of 2008. While her husband was deployed to South Korea for a year, she learned that she “was great at college.” Danielle is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for community college students; holds a 3.91 GPA; and will earn an associate’s degree in general studies with honors. She is a founding member of the college’s Student Veteran’s Group and outside of college is a co-host of a Web-based radio talk show. Danielle plans to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs with a concentration on East Asian countries.
Poetry/Hip Hop Performance Entrepreneur and GRAMMY Awards Intern
A talented performing artist, Zuri Chavers has been writing and performing songs and poetry as a hobby since he was five years-old. His poetry has continued to be published over the years. He has even released two studio albums that were self-written. His hobby has evolved into a passion and has become his biggest motivation. Zuri credits his mother for his inspiration. She told him, “Don’t just be another artist, OWN the label.” He has been working toward that end ever since.
While at Harper’s Choice Middle School in Columbia, Zuri conceptualized and implemented an after-school club for himself and his peers to hone their performance skills and poetic prowess. In 2010-2011, Zuri made the concept a reality for other youth, thanks to his work at HCC’s Center for Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence and the Caplan Scholars Program. As a result, Club Ambition, a hip-hop and spoken-word student group, was launched as a pilot program at the Columbia Association Teen Center in Oakland Mills (known more informally as “The Barn”).
Zuri’s poetry and songs have been heavily influenced by the opportunities he has had at HCC as a Silas Craft Collegian, a Caplan Scholar, a study abroad student in China, and an intern with the prestigious Recording Academy presenters of the annual GRAMMY Awards. Due to his work with the college’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence, Zuri is currently developing a business that will enable middle/high school students to cultivate leadership skills and good study habits while becoming published and recorded in a professional studio. Zuri will earn an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship and business technology.
Prior to the 2:00 p.m. commencement ceremony, the 2012 Nursing Recognition and Pinning Ceremony honoring HCC graduating nurses will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Merriweather Post Pavilion.