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Snapshots of the Class of 2017

E. Geovany Chavarría
Associate of Science, Business Administration

Geovany Chavarria

“Immediately upon entering Tyler, I was valued. I was given many extracurricular opportunities. And, the fact that I’ve met so many intelligent individuals helped me overcome negative feelings I had about my abilities.”


Geovany Chavarría is passionate about business and has been since he was a child. When he was little, he’d gather up his play money and pretend he owned his own restaurant or market. As he grew up, his desire to learn the intricacies of business planning and operation expanded. He wasn’t, however, sure he’d be able to pursue his dream because he didn’t think college was possible for him. That changed when some of his high school teachers suggested he go to a community college. Geovany researched John Tyler Community College and liked what he saw. The business-minded part of his personality appreciated the cost savings afforded by a community college education. And, as a first-generation college student, he also liked the idea of living at home. Geovany remembers being nervous his first day of classes but says that feeling quickly faded as he met new people and immersed himself in college life. “Immediately upon entering Tyler, I was valued. I was given many extracurricular opportunities.” He became a student ambassador, president of the Latin American Cultural Club, member of the Phi Beta Lambda student organization, and member of Student Council. He joined Tyler’s 50th Anniversary Scholarship Work Group, participated in student trips to the General Assembly, and attended the VCCS Student Leadership Conference. In addition, Geovany became the first John Tyler student to be named to the prestigious Valley Protein Fellows Program, which helps promising second-year students pursue their academic goals by providing them with scholarships, as well as professional development, travel and cultural opportunities. Through the Fellows Program, Geovany took part in leadership and public speaking workshops; attended the VCCS 50th Anniversary Gala; met other VCCS students from around the Commonwealth; and much more. When talking about his graduation from John Tyler, Geovany says he feels joyful. “I am the first one in my family to graduate. My mother only finished primary school. None of my uncles finished high school, most of them just have primary school. My grandparents didn’t even finish primary school. My great grandparents didn’t complete secondary school either. So graduating from John Tyler is a big deal for my family and me. I was the first one in my family to finish secondary school, and now, I will be the first one to have a college degree.” After celebrating his graduation, Geovany, will be making his final decision as to which four-year university he will be attending.


Emma Ford
Associate of Science, General Studies, Music

Emma Ford

“I love JTCC’s music program. I really learned a lot.”


Emma Ford grew up surrounded by music. Melodies filled the air in her home as her father played piano, and she found herself drawn to the sounds. In elementary school, Emma began taking piano lessons, and by 6th grade, she got her first guitar. Eventually, she stopped taking formal lessons for both instruments and began teaching herself how to play. Along the way, she found her voice, singing whenever she had the opportunity. She was part of a choir, which helped her exercise her voice, learned to read music, and began studying music theory. So, as she prepared to graduate from high school and look toward her future, she had no doubt that music would be involved. She decided to enroll at John Tyler because she didn’t like the idea of going into debt. She also wanted to stay at home and be able to work while taking classes. Soon after starting Tyler’s music program, she made an unexpected discovery – the college’s formation of a new a cappella group, The Freeways. Emma went to the first meeting of the student group and never looked back, performing at VCCS conferences and JTCC events and eventually becoming the group’s president. She’s also had the opportunity to perform on her own at college events such as Fool for Art. As she talks about graduation, she expresses her happiness at having completed her classes. “A lot of tension and stress is now off my back. I’m relieved to have finished my degree, but I’m also nervous, as well as excited about what’s next.” Emma says she plans to work over the summer, so she can build up her savings, and at the same time, continue networking with those involved in the local music scene. Her dream is to be paid to sing, so she is looking for a band to join and hopes to find internship opportunities so she can continue refining her skills.

Tiffany Longest
Career Studies Certificate, Welding

Tiffany Longest

“John Tyler is giving me the opportunity to build a better life for myself and for my family.”


Tiffany Longest believes that when you start something, you need to be committed to seeing it through, to be ready to work hard, and to stay focused on the goal – success. After 22 years as a hair stylist, Tiffany, a single mother, decided she needed to change. She wanted to find a career that provided a steady paycheck and benefits. “I’ve never had a week of paid vacation, and I wanted stability for me and my family.” So, Tiffany began researching careers, focusing on technical programs. “I knew I wanted to be hands on, and that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk at a computer.” So, she visited John Tyler Community College’s Chester Campus, which is close to her home and provided financial aid opportunities. After touring the labs in Godwin Hall, talking to college staff, doing some additional research, and talking to her family, she realized her interest was in welding. She was intrigued with the many directions a career in welding could take, plus, when she was a young child, her father had taken welding classes at John Tyler. Tiffany says she was a bit nervous at first, but after her first four weeks, she knew she made the right decision. Throughout the program, she worked hard to maintain a 4.0 grade point average, while being a mother, and continuing to work. Tiffany says the journey was stressful at times, and she had to learn new time management skills, but she’s thankful for the support she received from her family and friends and for the education she received at Tyler. “I am graduating with a career studies certificate in welding, plus an industry certification. I plan to take one more class at Tyler this summer, which will give me the opportunity to learn more skillsets.” As she reflects on her time at John Tyler, Tiffany says she is grateful. “John Tyler is giving me the opportunity to build a better life for myself and for my family. It’s giving me the opportunity to get a job with benefits. It’s giving me a new lease on my life.” Tiffany is now submitting applications to area companies and hopes to begin her new career in the coming months.

Marshall Mahoney
Associate of Applied Science, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechatronics Technician

Marshall Mahoney

“Tyler’s staff and faculty pushed me to do my best and never give up. They’ve stayed by my side since I started here.”


Marshall Maloney is inquisitive – especially when it comes to machinery. He not only wants to know the purpose of a piece of equipment, he wants to know how it is designed and built; how it works; how it can be repaired; and how it can be improved. Most of all, he wants to be hands-on, to experience what it is like to actually work with and on the equipment found in manufacturing settings. So, when the retired U.S. Marine discovered John Tyler Community College could put him on a path to a career that aligned with his interests, Marshall enrolled in the college’s Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechatronics Specialization Program. He said that decision was a good one. Not only did it allow him to build new and refine existing skills through hands-on learning, Marshall says it gave him the opportunity to network and build connections thanks to his instructors who have worked or still are working in the field. “Tyler’s staff and faculty pushed me to do my best and never give up.” In addition to his coursework, Marshall became heavily involved in student life at Tyler as president of the Student Veterans Organization, executive secretary to Student Council, and an officer for the Tau Rho chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. When asked how it feels to be graduating, Marshall says, “I never thought this was going to be a possibility. To also graduate as an officer in Phi Theta Kappa is also something I never thought would be achievable. I am completely thrilled beyond words to graduate from college and to have a plan to continue his education at a four-year university.”  After celebrating his graduation from John Tyler, Marshall says he’s going to take a couple of additional classes at the college before transferring to Old Dominion University’s mechanical engineering program.

Qu’Tashia Malika Muhammad
Associate of Applied Science, Human Services, Pre-Social Work

Malika Muhammad

“Just three years ago, I was in high school trying to fit in. Now, I am about to walk across the stage with honors. I can feel the change within myself that John Tyler has produced.”


Malika Muhammad wants to offer support to those facing challenges in their lives. Her passion for helping others began when she was in the eighth grade and her mother became ill. Malika suddenly found herself dealing with heartache and new responsibilities, but she discovered she was not alone. She received support from a counselor, and she said that assistance proved to be crucial. That’s when she realized she wanted to give back by helping teens who are facing challenges in their lives. So, she decided to explore a career in human services. She heard about John Tyler Community College while a student at Matoaca High School. Not yet ready to leave home and realizing Tyler offered a Human Services major, Malika decided to enroll. She says she is glad she did. At John Tyler, Malika says she’s found professors who truly connect with and care about their students. The encouragement they provided, the compassion they showed her when her mother passed away, and the confidence they had in her, made Malika want to work even harder in her classes. “To be graduating feels like I have beat all odds. It makes me proud to be completing a degree and knowing that I am one step closer to becoming the woman I am meant to be. Also, in a way, it feels surreal. Just three years ago, I was in high school trying to fit in. Now, I am about to walk across the stage with honors. I can feel the change within myself that John Tyler has produced.” After graduation, Malika plans to relocate to Mississippi so she can transfer to Jackson State University, where she’s received a full scholarship. She plans to major in social work and minor in psychology. Her goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker and to work with adolescents who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. 

Marilyn Powell 
Associate of Applied Science, Human Services

Marilyn Powell

“Graduation is 47 years overdue, but it is still very sweet.”


Marilyn Powell knew she wanted to do something different with her life after retiring from her career as a sales operations manager. She began examining her options and found herself circling back to one idea in particular – working with senior citizens and helping them live full lives. For Marilyn that means encouraging mental, physical and emotional well-being, as well as inspiring people to remain engaged, to explore their interests and to be active. Marilyn decided to pursue her goal of launching a new career by enrolling in John Tyler Community College’s Human Services Program. She says she chose Tyler because of its location, size and reputation. And although going back to school was a bit daunting at first, Marilyn says she didn’t mind being an older student at John Tyler. “I was treated very well at JTCC by staff and fellow students. I always felt that I was in the right place.” Marilyn clearly left an impression on those she met at John Tyler. At the college’s Student Awards Ceremony in April, she was presented with the Theresa Windham Award, which is given annually to a student who inspires other through service, kindness and selflessness. As for what’s next – Marilyn is exploring part-time job opportunities. While in Tyler’s Human Services Program, she got a summer internship through Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation that gave her the opportunity to work with seniors. She enjoyed the experience so much that she hopes to end up working with the county or with another organization that offers similar senior programs. In the meantime, Marilyn says she’s going to celebrate her achievements. “Graduation is 47 years overdue, but it is still very sweet. I am so excited.”

Takura Zingoni
Associate of Science, Information Systems

Takura Zingoni

“JTCC has imparted me with the knowledge, skills and abilities that I would never have gained anywhere else at such an affordable price.”


For Takura Zingoni, information is power. He understands how vital it is for data to be accurate, analyzed and understood, and he embraces the need to keep pace with changing technology. These converging interests put Takura on a path to an education in information systems. After moving to Chesterfield County, Takura began exploring his college options, and found out about John Tyler Community College from his sister and brother-in-law, both of whom had attended the college. Tyler’s proximity to his home was a plus, but it was the college’s lower tuition, facilities and campus environment that drove Takura's decision. Plus, he liked the guaranteed admissions agreements Tyler has with four-year colleges and universities. After starting at Tyler, Takura says he was inspired to get more involved at the college. He became a student ambassador, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and a member of the Men of Distinction Club. As he thinks about graduation, Takura says he feels “a sense of accomplishment and achievement” and “well prepared for the next challenge that lies ahead.” “JTCC has imparted me with the knowledge, skills and abilities that I would never have gained anywhere else at such an affordable price.” Takura next step is Virginia Commonwealth University, where he’s been accepted into the School of Business where he will continue to study information systems. After that, he hopes to pursue his master’s and Ph.D. At the same time, Takura is considering his career options. He says, initially, he’d like to work at a leading information technology company. Eventually, he wants to launch his own global IT solutions company that will focus on health systems applications and software. 

View Class Snapshots Archive for previous class snapshots.


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