2018 President's Distinguished Graduate

May 16, 2018

A dream deferred is not a dream denied

CCBC student Tonya D. Green is the 2018 President’s Distinguished Graduate. Given annually to a student who has shown exemplary leadership and commitment to others, Green will be bestowed with this honor as well as deliver the commencement address at CCBC’s 2018 Commencement ceremony.

Returning to college after more than 30 years, Tonya is proof that a dream deferred is not a dream denied. This year she is graduating with honors and a degree in Human Services.

Following high school, finances prevented Tonya from earning a college degree. With seven siblings, being raised by a single mother, money was often stretched. Although Tonya initially enrolled in what was then Villa Julie College, the cost of college was too much for her family to bear.

“I had a $900 scholarship,” said Tonya, “and that didn’t get me very far.”

Tonya entered the Marine Corps and went on to have a family of her own. As a mom, she put her dream of college on hold to put her children’s needs first.

But the thought of college was always on her mind. She developed what she called a “one day” mentality which kept her dream alive.

“I kept saying, ‘one day’ it will happen for me. ‘One day’ I’ll accomplish that goal.”

After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and with her children now grown with successful careers, Tonya decided her “one day” had finally come. She enrolled at the Community College of Baltimore County.

Pursing her dream was exciting, but the college experience was not without its challenges. It had been 30 years since she had been in a classroom.

“After being out of college for so long, I lacked confidence and didn’t think I could do it. I was ‘quitting’ every semester,” Tonya said jokingly. “But I wouldn’t allow myself to give up.”

In the end, the discipline and tenacity she practiced in the military served her well. She became involved on campus through the Student Veterans of America Club, connected and engaged with other military-connected and student veterans and began to flourish academically. Her 3.87 GPA gave her entry into Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for community colleges as well as into SALUTE, the national honor society for student veterans. And, she managed to do all this while volunteering in her community by working with the homeless, advocating for children and serving as a chaplain.

Today, Tonya’s deferred dream is a reality. She completed her CCBC degree in Fall 2017 and is already pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Gerontology at Towson University.

“It is never too late to pursue your dreams,” said Tonya. “Persistence is the key.”