“Be proud of yourself for recognizing the importance of education and take heart in the fact that the hard work, struggles, and hours of studying have resulted in a degree that will open a world of opportunity for you.”
MARIETTA, OHIO— Washington State Community College (WSCC) held its 49th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday to celebrate the achievements of its graduates. The ceremony also included the conferring of the institution’s first honorary degree.
The class of 2022 was composed of 352 graduates, 37 of whom were College Credit Plus high school students, 86 honors graduates, 13 Veterans, and 74 Phi Theta Kappa members, the national honor society of two-year community colleges. In total, the college awarded 294 associate degrees and 101 certificates.
Commencement speaker Dave Archer reminded the graduates that graduation is not the finish line, but the starting line. He challenged them to make a commitment to themselves to “always show up with the right attitude. Put your loyalty and eagerness to learn on display so that no one has reason to question your intentions. Be proud of yourself for recognizing the importance of education and take heart in the fact that the hard work, struggles, and hours of studying have resulted in a degree that will open a world of opportunity for you.”
Following his address, Archer was asked by WSCC President Dr. Vicky Wood to remain on stage as she surprised him with the announcement that the college was presenting him with an honorary degree. Archer, who is the Chairman of the Board of Pioneer Group, has been a “lifelong friend, supporter, and advocate for WSCC,” acknowledged President Wood. She shared with the audience that Archer was involved in building not only the institution’s very first building back when it was known as Washington Technical College, but also buildings on its current campus. Additionally, he has served on advisory committees and the WSCC Foundation Board. “We want to honor the impact you’ve made on Washington State Community College,” Wood told Archer. “Your support and dedication have changed the lives of countless numbers of students. You are a pillar of the college.”
In her address, President Wood identified the graduates as Champions of Change. “You, more than any Washington State graduating class in the college’s 50-year history, have endured the most significant event of our lifetimes—The Covid-19 pandemic,” Wood said. “This dramatically changed your lives and without question, your college experience. You endured two years of your academic experience in a state of change.” She concluded her message by urging the students as they go forward with their lives to utilize the grit and persistence that got them to graduation. “I encourage you to continue to be champions of change and never let anything or anyone derail you from achieving your dreams.”
Prior to the culmination of the ceremony with students crossing the stage to receive their diplomas, Associate Degree Nursing student Abby Crock addressed her class. She reminded them that it’s “important to keep your fire burning. Only then can you share your flame with those around you, lighting the way for others while having a bright view of the path ahead of yourself. So, when you start to feel tired, step back. Give yourself grace. Evaluate your life and make sure that you are not smothering the fire that burns inside of you.”