VPCC Parents Beaming with Pride as Children Graduate

Graduation is a special time of year, but for four employees at Virginia Peninsula Community College, it is extra special this year because they have a child walking across the stage May 14 at the Hampton Coliseum.

Here’s a closer look at those employees and their graduating child:

Belinda Baker & graduate

Belinda Baker, the public relations and marketing coordinator, joined the College in October 2005 as a temp, became part-time and was hired full time in October 2009. Her daughter Madison enrolled in the College in 2022 and will be receiving an associate degree in visual arts.

Madison has been accepted to Old Dominion University and Radford University and is waiting to hear from VCU’s School of the Arts. She would like a career in interior design. Madison was a dual-enrolled student while at Kecoughtan High School, and earned a Finish What You Started scholarship.

Belinda’s other daughter, Jailyn, graduated from VPCC in 2015 with an associate degree in social science, and her husband completed classes at the College after retiring from the military and before earning a degree elsewhere.

Belinda said Madison would have chosen the College even despite the family connection.

“During her freshman year in high school, she'd made her choice saying she wasn’t ready to leave home for college. She also chose VPCC because she wanted a flexible schedule that would allow her to work part time,” Belinda said.

“The program she chose, friends she made and all she's experienced here have given her what she needed for the next chapter. I am proud of her.”

Salih & Graduate

Mohamedsaied Salih has been an information technology specialist at VPCC since 2014. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture. His son Ahmed Elamin Salih is graduating with an associate degree in computer science and will transfer to the University of Virginia for the fall semester.

Mohamed is proud his son has earned a degree from VPCC.

“It means a lot to me and adds to the value and significance of my contribution to the institute,” he said.

Patric & Graduate

Patrick Smith is a psychology professor who joined VPCC in December 2005. He has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Capella University. His son, Shane Smith, is graduating with an associate degree in Human Services. Shane will be transferring to Old Dominion University to continue his study of psychology with the goal of becoming a therapist in the field of grief and palliative care.

While at VPCC, Shane was involved in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, serving as its vice president. He earned Coca-Cola Silver Scholar recognition and was named to the PTK All-Virginia Academic Team.

There was no grand plan for Shane to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I always tried to encourage Shane to do his own thing and find his own place,” Patrick said. “He loves being with me, though, and sharing the same interests (psychology and therapy). That is cool with me because I really love him and consider him my best friend.”

Kelly & Graduate

Dr. Kelly Tanner is the program chair of the dental hygiene program. She rejoined the College in 2022 after a stint from 2010-16. She has a Master of Science in dental hygiene, and a Ph.D. in organizational leadership and business. Carter Gale Williams, her daughter, will be receiving an associate degree in science and then transferring to Mary Washington to study environmental science. Carter is graduating magna cum laude.

Tanner enjoyed having her daughter on campus.

“It was endearing to have her come by to say hello and to share what she was learning in class when she was on campus,” Tanner said.