Graduates celebrate their achievements at CCCC

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

More than 250 people celebrated their long-awaited graduation Wednesday night during Central Carolina Community College's Adult High School and GED commencement ceremony.

Starting at 7 p.m. at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, graduates from CCCC's branches in Lee, Chatham and Harnett counties celebrated their achievements as friends, family members and professors cheered them on.

None of those who spoke during the ceremonies, whether they were counselors, administrators or students, shied away from the fact that many of the people in caps and gowns had to overcome significant obstacles in the personal lives and education before reaching this stage. But the fact that they were graduating, some said, was proof that they have what it takes to make Wednesday's ceremony a mere stage of a journey, not the finish line.

"You have made a positive move in the right direction," CCCC President Bud Marchant told the graduates. "My concern, my only wish for you, is that you continue your education. Continue in the right direction."

Tia Mitchell, a 16-year-old who won the college's Lee County Trustees Scholarship, said she has been to 17 different schools in her life and never found any success in the traditional high school setting most of her peers are still enrolled in, blaming her formerly negative attitude and the instability surrounding her educational career.

"It seems that I have been on a roller coaster ride for most of my life," said the student who just became qualified to be a certified nursing assistant. "... I have big dreams that I never thought to pursue, but Central Carolina has made that possible for me."

Julie Pospesel, who graduated from the Harnett County campus, said she promised herself when she dropped out of high school at age 17 to have her first baby that she would finish her education some day. Six kids and one grandkid later, she was standing on stage not only graduating, but speaking to her fellow graduates.

"There were times of tears when I feared that I couldn't do it," she said, adding that now that she finally has a GED, more career options have opened up and she's starting on a new path toward becoming a paralegal: "Yes, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up."

And Kadejah Shardee Miles, from Chatham County, said she moved to Siler City from Carrboro with no prospects and no high school diploma, saying her teachers had never been able to help or inspire her. But at CCCC, she said, she found support and now wants to become a pharmacist and advised her fellow students, by borrowing some words from Steve Jobs, to stay hungry in their pursuit of success.

"Our obstacles haven't stopped us yet," she said.