Laurel Ridge College held its 47th commencement exercises Saturday

For Immediate Release:
May 12, 2018

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

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Laurel Ridge Community College held its 47th commencement exercises Saturday, May 12, at Skyline High School in Front Royal. The Class of 2018 has 1,184 members, including 291 area high school students who earned associate degrees or certificates through the dual-enrollment program. grad image

“Community college is a melting pot of people,” said commencement speaker Morgan Ryan, who earned her associate of arts and sciences degree with a communication specialization and plans to transfer to the University of Mary Washington. “Community college students are all juggling hardships while going to college.”

She said these hardships can come in varying forms and intensities. For Ryan, who hopes to become an English professor after being inspired by her own professors at Lord Fairfax, that hardship came when her boyfriend unexpectedly passed away on her fourth day of classes. The key to success is perseverance, she said.

“We’re conquerors, we’re fighters, and we did it,” Ryan said.

grad imageMatthew Heinrich, who graduated with an associate of science degree and is transferring to Virginia Tech, was named the Outstanding Graduate from the Fauquier Campus.

“Matt is a serious student who doesn’t take himself too seriously,” Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said. “A proven leader, Matt has been an integral part of Fauquier and Middletown campus activities.”

Samuel Snarr, who graduated with his associate of science degree in computer science, received the Outstanding Graduate Award for the Middletown Campus.

“He was always the student who volunteered to help his peers, but he did so expecting no acknowledgement or accolades, but because he is who he is,” said Blosser.

Prior to the commencement ceremony, the Laurel Ridge College Board conferred Medallions of Recognition to acknowledge leadership, scholarship and service. The honorees were:

  • Susan Cooley, who retired in January after 31 years at the college. Rising from an office services assistant position to student information systems coordinator, Cooley was active in the Virginia Community Colleges Association (VCCA) and significantly helped with the successful implementation of the integrated student information data system across the state.
  • Michael Garrand, who retired last year after 40 years as an associate math professor at Laurel Ridge, was active with the VCCA and other organizations. He made significant contributions both to student support initiatives and the college’s organizational development.
  • John W. McCarthy III, senior advisor and director of strategic partnerships at the Piedmont Environmental Council and the former longtime Rappahannock County administrator, chairs the PATH Foundation Board of Directors, which has been extremely supportive of the college’s mission in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties.
  • Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, president of Laurel Ridge from January 2009 till this past February, led the college to significantly increase its enrollment, endowment, structures, and course/degree offerings. During her tenure, the college was four times named the No. 1 community college of its size in the nation by The Center for Digital Excellence, six times named a Great College to Work for by The Chronicle of Higher Education, and received very high marks on student satisfaction surveys, among other honors.grad image
  • John Vance, who represented Warren County on the College Board for 10 years, was an exemplary advocate of the community college mission. He provided sound leadership and guidance on various expansion projects, including the Science and Health Professions Building, the Corron Community Development Center, the Student Union Building and Cornerstone Hall renovation on the Middletown Campus.

Also on Saturday, two professors who retired last year were elevated to emeritus status:  Virginia Hartman, associate professor of administrative support technology, and Rob Simpson, associate professor of natural resources management.


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.