‘Ticket to change the world’
Heads held high, walking two-by-two, Central Carolina Community College’s Class of 2014 entered the main hall of the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center Thursday to the skirl of a bagpipe — a CCCC tradition.
From teenagers to those with gray hair peeking from beneath their mortarboards, they came to receive their hard-earned credentials and be celebrated for their achievements.
“Graduation is the most joyful day on the academic calendar,” said CCCC President Dr. Bud Marchant. “It represents the culmination of all the efforts of all the divisions of the college, along with those of our graduating students.”
The college awarded 315 associate degrees and 421 diplomas and certificates, with some students receiving multiple credentials. Three commencement exercises, at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., were held to accommodate the number of graduates. That also allowed those who will complete their studies during the summer to walk in a graduation ceremony, since there will be no summer commencement exercises.
Graduating cosmetology student Vivian Smith of Harnett County was one of six commencement student speakers, two at each of the exercises. Speaking at the 3 p.m. graduation, she exemplified the variety and dedication of the members of the graduating class. Now 56, she said she had been determined to do her best in class — earning all “A’s” and becoming a member of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
“I am so, so, so, so happy!” she said, describing her feelings and those of her fellow graduates. “I give honor to God and thank him for where I am today. This graduating class has been on a long journey together. We all had the desire to obtain higher education and to excel in our field of choice. If I could accomplish what I have at my age, I can’t wait to see what [my younger fellow graduates] accomplish.”
Ashly Tyson of Chatham County, speaking at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony, urged the graduates, “Regardless of the past, be passionate about the career you choose. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be the change you want to see in the world.”
At the 9 a.m. session, graduate Leela Rao, of Lee and Wake counties, said she had both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, but found her future career in the Veterinary Medical Technology program at CCCC.
“Regardless of where life has taken us, we find ourselves here,” she told the graduating class. “Today is your day, graduates. Your degree, diploma or certificate is your ticket to change the world.”
The other graduation speakers were Scott Butcher, of Chatham County; Andrea Hyatt, of Wake County; and Guadalupe Norato, of Lee County. They spoke of his or her unique journey that brought them to the college and the impact it had had and would continue to have on their lives.
Faculty commencement speaker Lisa Key Brown, the college’s 2014 Instructor of the Year, shared with the graduates the four “Cs” for happiness and success in life: Celebration of hard work, family and milestones; confidence, which is empowering and the key to success; collaboration with others to achieve what cannot be done alone; and community, being an active participant, which would bring joy to their lives.
“Enjoy being happy,” she said. To emphasize her point, she invited the graduates and those on the stage to stand up and clap and dance in place as the music of “The Happy Song” filled the hall. Some in the audience of family and friends joined in the festivities.
On a more serious note, two students who had passed away were honored at the graduations: Breanna Tile of Moore County, who had been a paralegal student, and Jasmine Wicker of Lee County, who had been studying human services. Former instructors received Tile’s diploma on behalf of her family and Wicker’s family received her degree.
“She was waiting on this day,” said her mother, Shonda Moncrease. “I thank the college for allowing me to receive this degree on behalf of my daughter. This is a moment to cherish.”
Two administrators also were honored: Chatham Provost Dr. Karen Allen and Executive Vice President of Instruction Dr. Lisa Chapman. Chapman came to the college in 1987, and Allen in 1988. Both served in a number of capacities. Allen is retiring, and Chapman will become the senior vice president of programs and student services/ chief academic officer for the N.C. Community College System.
“They have worked long and hard to make Central Carolina Community College a better institution, and they have succeeded,” said Vice President of Student Services Ken Hoyle.
Following each commencement exercise, family and friends gathered in the Civic Center’s foyer or outside to take pictures of their graduate’s special day.
“Was it worth it? Overwhelmingly, yes!” said graduation speaker Scott Butcher of Chatham County. “When you put your mind to do something, great things happen.”
Lauren Jernigan of Harnett County received her associate in applied science degree in Veterinary Medical Technology and, afterward, hugs from her grandparents, Diane and Earl Parrish.
“I am really glad to graduate,” she said, then added happily, “It’s been super exciting. I’ve already got a job at Duke University’s Carolina Ranch Animal Hospital.”
Janet Galvez of Lee County received her Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.
“I feel excited,” she said. “This means a lot. I am the first one in my family to do this. I am so proud of myself. Now, I’m going to continue my education at Fayetteville State University.”
During the graduation exercises, students with the highest grade point averages in their divisions were recognized: Peter Hall, Karen Mauney, Aynsley McCash, Leela Rao, Hannah Smith, Koren Hailey, Brandi Hernandez, Daniel Staub, John Rhodes, Scott Butcher, Joseph Dwyer, Brittany Fann, Debbie Frizzelle, Nathan Guinn, Cena Litton, Charlene Newby, Donna Poe, David Rorick, Breanna Bernard, Amanda Garner and Vivian Smith.
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society graduates were also recognized at each commencement: Leah Dannelley, Lori Dunlap, Aynsley McCash, Leela Rao, Estrella Rodriguez, Janet Thorne, Brittany Clifton, Mary Cooper, Kathy Croce, Koren Hailey, Tanya Haley, Brandi Hernandez, Elise Janson, Hannah Lawrence, Patricia Nettles, Guadalupe Norato, Erin O’Rawe, Ronnie Ross, Cindy Smith, Nicholas Snouwaert, Yolanda Ulep, Andrianne Whitaker, Pam Staton, April Brady, Eric Buckner, Brittany Fann, Vanessa Cox, Joseph Dwyer, Amanda Eury, Debbie Frizzelle, Nathan Guinn, Phil Heath, Lauren Hill, Margaret McLeod, Donna Poe, Charonda Shelvin and Vivian Smith.
Pictures from the commencement exercises can be downloaded in a few days from www.cccc.edu. The commencement can also be viewed online at 4CNCLive.com.