NOVA Loudoun

Sharing knowledge about Graphic Design/Marketing


At our NOVA Loudoun program, Rose Pleskow has been studying graphic design and marketing. Learning to use the design software applications, like Illustrator and Photoshop, take a lot of practice and patience. Taylor, Loudoun’s Program Coordinator, linked Rose and Kim, College Steps Community Coordinator on a Google Hangout to talk about a few struggles Rose was having using Illustrator. With a few tips and short keys recommendations, Rose practiced and quickly figured out the issue she was having! Way to go Rose. :)

Mentor of the Month: Ali El-Araby

Meet Ali El-Araby, our College Steps May/June Mentor of the Month.  Originally from Buffalo, New York, Ali recently graduated from Northern Virginia Community College and will continue his education at the University of Virginia this fall where he will study kinesiology.

College Steps Program Coordinator, Taylor Bryant, was eager to nominate Ali for this recognition, noting his professionalism. “Ali always pays great attention to detail. All of his mentor journals are turned in on time and are very well written, and he is one of the first mentors to step up if I need help covering a shift,” says Taylor.

She also noted Ali put in extra time at the end of the semester with a mentee who needed support preparing her psychology paper and studying for her final.

When asked what he most enjoyed about being a mentor, Ali says it was seeing his fellow students grow and develop both socially and academically.

"What stood out to me working with the students is the amazing transformation in character and performance that they showed as the year progressed,” he explained. “Some students were extremely shy, reserved, and seemingly overwhelmed at the start of the academic year. Others had it in them to perform well academically, but they never had the right tools to achieve that. It was heartwarming to see them get the results they put the effort for, and it's a real pleasure that they are now our friends for life. Being part of College Steps was an experience unparalleled by any other."

Thank you, Ali for going above and beyond to help your fellow students and mentors. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


College Steps Grads Hear Words of Wisdom

May and June are graduation season - a time for caps, gowns and keynote speeches.  In the last several weeks, College Steps has seen many of its students transition to community colleges and four-year institutions, including Adelphi University, George Mason University, and Norwalk Community College. Others are entering the workforce in careers such as veterinary technology, hospitality and state government. And as a right of passage, most participated in commencement ceremonies where they received words of inspiration and encouragement.

#3 Photo May 20, 11 06 21 AM.jpg


At Northern Vermont University - Lyndon Campus in Vermont May 20, students heard from 1986 alum and Weather Channel star Jim Cantore. Cantore shared fond memories of his time at Lyndon State and gave the graduates advice on how to overcome life’s obstacles while living meaningful and fullingful lives. “Find a mentor,” Cantore said. “Find someone who you admire and want to emulate.” Cantore said his mentor was John Hope, A.K.A. “The Grandfather of the Weather Channel” who passed away in 2012. Cantore called him, a “gentle, loving man that genuinely cared about people...seriously the most compassionate man I have ever seen in my life.”

Diversity was the theme of the commencement speech at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut May 18. President David Levinson began by noting that the school’s 818 graduates came from 41 different countries and spoke 26 languages. “We live in a world characterized, unfortunately, by seemingly unlimited acrimony. Yet, you, the graduating class of 2018, offer the world a promise of harmony and mutual support,” said Levinson.

At Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) May 12 commencement ceremony, students heard from fellow graduates who overcame personal adversity. Brenda Medrano-Frias, an immigrant from Bolivia who served as student representative to the school's Board of Directors, said she felt “directionless and lost” before taking classes at NOVA. “Think about the people who helped to guide you. I always found myself surrounded by true mentors and role models,” she said.

While the speakers and speeches varied, most touched on the importance of community and connection to others. Here at College Steps, we are honored to be part of the community that helped each of this year’s graduates take the next step in their personal journey.

Mentor of the Month: Nabia

As a mentor in the College Steps program at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) - Loudoun campus, Nabia is known for her positive attitude. She is currently studying psychology and plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University upon graduation from NVCC. Two of her personal strengths are organization and writing, which she uses generously to help others.

Nabia says that helping other students with things like note-taking, essay composition and general organization skills outside of the classroom has helped improve her own study habits.

When asked what she enjoys most about being mentor, Nabia says, “Watching the students improve and become better socially and academically over time and feeling like I have helped make a difference.”


Behind the Label at NOVA Loudoun

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

On November 8th, A Place to Be came to NOVA Loudoun to present Behind The Label.  This powerful show reminded us to look inside people and ourselves, and realize that we are more than just labels.

A Place to Be, a performance-based music and drama therapy program in Virginia, describes their show Behind the Label:

"40 powerful minutes filled with monologues and music that explain what it’s like to live with various challenges including Autism, Down Syndrome, ADD, Anxiety, Cerebral Palsy, Depression, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Heart conditions, Dyslexia, and many other medical and life challenges. Written by the brave young people who struggle and triumph over their challenges every day, the goal of the project is to help teach people to see beyond diagnosis, beyond labels, and into human beings. "

College Steps student, Scott Lusk photographed the event. 

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

Photo credit: Scott Lusk

Photo credit: Scott Lusk