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Public service, leadership fuel dreams for VFCCE scholarship recipients


Graciela Billingsley is one of 65 scholarship recipients through the VFCCE this year.


Graciela Billingsley is looking for a lifetime of public service. So it’s only fitting that this high-achieving sophomore at Northern Virginia Community College is the recipient of the Eva Teig Hardy Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship.

Named for the retired Dominion public policy executive who also had an extensive career in state government, the Eva Tieg Hardy Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship is among $350,000 in scholarship funds to be distributed by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education this year. The funds will benefit more than 65 students from Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Graciela, who took a “service gap” year to serve with the AmeriCorps Civilian Community Corp before attending NOVA, now serves as SGA president at her campus as well as in countless other service club and volunteer roles throughout the community. “Because of my AmeriCorps experience, I want to continue to give back no matter what stage in life I am in. I want to dedicate my life in service to others,” she said in a thank you letter to Ms. Hardy. “Because of this generous scholarship in your honor, I will be able to do just that.” She receives $3,900 to pay for community college tuition and fees for one year.

In addition to named scholarships, the more than 65 recipients this year include nine Valley Proteins Fellows, who will each receive $5,000 in tuition and fees and access to programs to enhance their leadership skills, thanks to support from Valley Proteins, Inc., and at least one Commonwealth Legacy Scholar at each of the 23 community colleges, thanks to support from Wells Fargo.

Valley Proteins Fellows

  • Elaina Schweiker, Eastern Shore Community College
  • Anna Bailey, Germanna Community College
  • Kristin Schaefer, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
  • Tiffany Riggs, Lord Fairfax Community College
  • Augusto “Gus” Infantas, Northern Virginia Community College
  • Patrick Fritz, Piedmont Virginia Community College
  • Fintan Horan, Piedmont Virginia Community College
  • Joshua Justus, Southwest Virginia Community College
  • Pascal Shukuru, Thomas Nelson Community College


Named Scholarships

  • Eva T. Hardy Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Graciela Billingsley, Northern Virginia; Jameson Cockram, New River; and Sydney Wiles, Germanna
  • ACG Richmond Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: James L. Brent, John Tyler Community College.
  • John Casteen Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Hunter Newton-Meade, Southwest Virginia; and Laurel Elayne Burdette, Dabney Lancaster and Virginia Western community colleges.
  • Michael A. Smith Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Aric Porter, Wytheville; Kenley Meredith, Wytheville; and Kennedi Boyd, New River.
  • Kathy Camper Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Gabriela Jordan Ferrufino, Northern Virginia
  • Central Virginia Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management Scholarship: Janice Rinker, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
  • Laurens Sartoris Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Rachel Lyle, Dabney S. Lancaster; and Jennifer McConnell, Northern Virginia.
  • Jonathan Alje Toxopeus Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Lucia Resendiz Garcia, Lord Fairfax Community College.
  • Gerald L. Baliles Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Emilee Janney and Jordan Brady, Patrick Henry Community College.
  • The Florence Berman Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: James B. Davis, Rappahannock Community College.
  • The Eleanor Saslaw Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship: Sara K. Gregory, Rappahannock Community College.

A few scholarships have yet to be awarded, including a Potomac Health Fellowship program for students in the Fredericksburg area. Each individual community college will select their own Commonwealth Legacy Scholar for the Wells Fargo program.

About the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education:  Working hand in hand with Virginia’s 23 community colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education seeks to guarantee financial assistance to all students who dream of attending college. For more information, please visit

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 400,000 students each year in both academic and workforce training programs. For more information, please visit