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Friday, June 7, 2013
Roanoke native Toni Atkins returned to her alma mater, Emory & Henry College, as graduation speaker in May.
Atkins, a 1984 Emory & Henry graduate, is the majority leader of the California State Assembly.
Atkins recalled her life, noting that her father was a coal miner and construction worker, and her mother was a factory worker and seamstress.
Living in substandard housing without running water or a bathroom, having no access to health care, being looked down upon in school for being poor, and coming out at an early age as a lesbian "made me dream of and envision a different world," she said.
She urged the 203 graduates to envision the world in which they would like to live and then work to create it.
Atkins added that students who graduate from Emory & Henry leave with a foundation and solid skills to help them reach their dreams. Atkins is a former member of the San Diego City Council and a former interim San Diego mayor. Shortly after being elected to the California Assembly in 2010, she was named majority whip, and in 2012 she was appointed to serve as majority leader.
Much of her political reputation is built on the work she has done on behalf of disadvantaged communities in San Diego, veterans, the elderly and homeless.
Several students from the Roanoke and New River valleys were among the Emory & Henry graduates.
Roanoke: Spencer Black, Anna Davis, Rose-Marie Joseph, Mark Robertson, Brian Serway, Veronica Blankenship, Jenna Crozier and Christopher Poff.
Bedford County: James Sharp of Forest and Benjamin Stamper of Bedford.
Blacksburg: Brandon Brodkin, Amber Holdaway and Eric Houff.
Botetourt County: DaVon Ross of Glen Wilton and Corey Ware of Buchanan.
Salem: Jamie Price, Jacob Reid and Edwards Sarah.
Franklin County: Kasi Quinn of Rocky Mount.
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Hampden-Sydney College 's 2013 graduating class included several students from Bedford County and the Roanoke and New River valleys.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us