Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello gave his first commencement speech at last night’s PVCC graduation ceremony. In his speech, Perriello emphasized his support of community colleges, the challenges of graduating, and his hope for economic rebound. The freshman congressman was calm, relating stories of his late father, Dr. Vito Perriello, and even cracking jokes (Perriello said he "wrote that $2,500 tax credit as a graduation gift"). Perriello was also sure to note that the recession was another challenge this group of grads could overcome, given how this group had “overcome odds” to become “success stories.” PVCC President Frank Friedman concurred.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Friedman had the grads repeatedly stand up if they met certain qualifications. Many grads were parents, many worked more than 30 hours a week, many were receiving their education with aid from loans or scholarships, but what was most powerful was when Friedman called out the “trifecta.” When Friedman asked how many were parents working 30 hour a week jobs, and full-time students at PVCC a large percentage stood up. As both Friedman and Perriello said, the night belonged to these success stories.
He may be still a freshman, but Tom Perriello, Fifth District Congressman, knows how to address the graduates at PVCC.