Laurel Ridge celebrates nearly 900 graduates in the Class of 2023

For Immediate Release:
May 14, 2023

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

Commencement graduate 2023
There are about 895 students in the Class of 2023.

Laurel Ridge celebrated the Class of 2023 with two commencement ceremonies. A commencement ceremony was held for just graduates of the health professions on May 11, with a ceremony for all other graduates held on May 12.

Pinning ceremonies were held immediately following the May 11 ceremony for students graduating from the nursing, surgical technology and medical laboratory technology programs. Additionally, there was a coin ceremony for emergency medical services graduates.

It’s anticipated that 895 students are part of the Class of 2023, which also includes those who graduated in summer and fall 2022.

“It’s absolutely my favorite day of the year,” Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said during the ceremony. “This is what it’s all about – recognizing our outstanding graduates and all of the hard work that’s brought them to this point. For college personnel, this is the event that brings us our greatest satisfaction.”

Resilience and perseverance are necessary to make it to commencement, she said.

“We’re so proud of you for continuing to move forward to accomplish your goal,” said Dr. Blosser. “Many of you are the first in your family to graduate from college. Others represent the latest generation of graduates in your family.”

Registered nursing graduate Shannan Mitchell was the class speaker for the health professions ceremony.

“What is your why – what is the defining moment that inspired you to pursue a career in health care?” she asked her classmates. “Ultimately, our motivation to work in health care is driven by the honorable pursuit of helping others. I’m a first-generation college student, one of six children, and I’ve chosen nursing after experiencing the loss of my older sister to Hodgkins lymphoma in 2009.”

Several years later, Mitchell’s best friend was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, and is doing well. These experiences led to her “burning need” to become a nurse.

“Remember to come back to your why, your motivation,” Mitchell said. “A career in health care requires you to constantly put other people before yourself. A career in health care is a career in empathy. We are healers and fixers, yet we sit with people in their darkness at their most vulnerable without rushing to turn on a light.

“You’re the proof that you can do anything you want to. We have the opportunity to make very large waves. Everyone here is going to change someone’s life because you’re going to make them feel like a somebody. How lucky are we?”

Celia Cooley, who earned her associate degree in general studies, was the class speaker for Friday’s commencement ceremony. She spoke of the need for diversity when it comes to maintaining ecosystems and society.

“The diversity of species and the relationships between these species strengthen the entire ecosystem and community,” Cooley said. “I’m convinced the students at Laurel Ridge Community College fully embrace this way of thinking. Our community flourishes because of our acceptance of diversity and commitment to encouraging and supporting others.

“It’s my hope we will remain committed to supporting one another in our academic, professional and personal growth. I’m incredibly proud of the wonderful [work] the graduating Class of 2023 has done at Laurel Ridge.”

Also during the commencement ceremonies, Outstanding Graduate Awards were presented. The Outstanding Graduate for the Fauquier Campus was Theresa Akyaa, who earned her degree in surgical technology. Human services graduate Pamela Neff was named the Outstanding Graduate for the Middletown Campus.


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— 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 (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.

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.