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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion Hosts “Signing Day” Rally For College-Bound Students

By Tom Robinson

Old Dominion University's Constant Convocation Center on April 26 hosted more than 1,200 college-bound high school seniors who were guided through their decision process by mentors from ACCESS College Foundation.

Dubbed the "National Signing Day" event, the party-like rally emceed by local radio personality DJ Shaggy celebrated the college choices of students from Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore.

"We are so thrilled you are commencing on this great moment," Ellen Neufeldt, Old Dominion's vice president for student engagement and enrollment services, said in welcoming the group. All the students wore green T-shirts bearing the hashtag "CollegeIMN"

"You are among the elite in this world, to have an opportunity to have a college degree," Neufeldt continued. "It means so much to what you're going to do for our future and our community."

ACCESS College Foundation has helped guide 50,000 local students into higher education in 28 years and secured a half-billion dollars in scholarship aid for them, said Bruce Bradley, chairman of the foundation's board of directors.

"For years we've made a big deal out of signing day for athletes," said Bradley, who received an M.B.A. from Old Dominion. "Now we're making a big deal out of signing day for academics."

The students who gathered at the Ted were accepted by 127 colleges and universities around the country.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott and businessman Gilbert Bland, who formerly served on Old Dominion's Board of Visitors, were among the other speakers who congratulated the students and urged them to persevere toward their degrees.

"You're making the good choice," Scott said. "Make sure you complete college."

Also taking a turn on stage was Demetrius Stitmon, from Nansemond River High School in Suffolk. In brief remarks, Stitmon, who said he will attend Old Dominion to study mechanical engineering and to play football, praised the guidance he received from his ACCESS adviser, Adrienne Miller.

"I still go see her every day she's at my school," Stitmon said. "I want to thank ACCESS for being there for the students. I'm glad we have somewhere to get help when we need it."

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