Veterans advocate to give TCC commencement address
5/6/2014, 2:49 p.m.
Curtis L. Coy, deputy under secretary for economic opportunity in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will be the keynote speaker for Tidewater Community College’s 58th commencement on May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Old Dominion University Ted Constant Convocation Center.
Marcus Baker of Portsmouth will be the student speaker. Nearly 1,800 TCC students will earn associate degrees or certificates that evening.
Coy oversees education benefits, the home loan program (helping veterans purchase, retain and adapt homes), vocational rehabilitation (for wounded warriors and disabled veterans) and employment issues. He was appointed by President Obama in May 2011.
Nearly one-third of TCC’s student population is affiliated with the military. The college opened the Center for Military and Veterans Education, a comprehensive clearinghouse for academic and student support services, in November 2012.
Previously, Coy was a senior executive at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for about 11 years. For eight of those years, he was the deputy assistant secretary for administration at the Administration for Children and Families.
Coy was a career naval officer, retiring in 1994 as a commander in the Supply Corps. He began his military career as an Air Force enlistee, and is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He has held several private and public executive-level positions and is the recipient of various awards, including the Presidential Rank Award in 1984, the Surgeon General’s Medallion in 2002 and the HHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award in 2009.
Student speaker Baker will graduate with an associate of science degree in social science and will transfer to Norfolk State University to pursue a master’s degree in social work. He was accepted into the Links Scholars Program, a partnership between TCC and NSU that assists students who transfer from community colleges to historically black colleges and universities.
The Churchland High School graduate has served as president of the Portsmouth Campus Student Government Association and as a student ambassador. He is also a member of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), a national organization that assists men of color in excelling academically, socially, culturally and professionally. Baker plans to be a social worker and ideally would like to start his own nonprofit mentoring youth.