This Saturday, Winchester resident Andrea Portillo will become the first person in her family to graduate from college.
She is one of about 1340 students celebrating their commencement this week. Laurel Ridge is hosting a virtual commencement ceremony Saturday afternoon, as well as drive-thru diploma walks on Thursday and Friday.
Portillo is earning an associate degree in general studies with a specialization in health and human services. She will attend George Mason University in the fall to study health administration with the goal of becoming the administrator of a nursing home.
A Salvadoran immigrant, Portillo graduated from Tuscarora High School in Leesburg in 2018. She has worked in a nursing home since she was 18.
“I just love that I can make it a better place for them,” Portillo said. “We’re the closest they have to family because we are with them every day. I enjoy making them smile.”
She came to Laurel Ridge when her family moved to Winchester from Leesburg a couple of years ago. Portillo said she formed a close bond with her academic advisor Lisa Currie.
“I was really excited about Laurel Ridge because my counselor really impressed me and gave me hope for the future,” she said. “Lisa really pushed me towards my goal. I think the college is amazing because it offers so many programs and so much flexibility. I would 100-percent recommend Laurel Ridge to others.”
Portillo said she would especially recommend Laurel Ridge to fellow members of the Hispanic community.
“It doesn’t matter your status or where your family comes from,” she said. “Anyone can pursue their goals and their dreams, and Laurel Ridge will definitely get you where you need to go.”
Explore all of the program pathways Laurel Ridge offers at www.laurelridge.edu/explore.
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.