MARIETTA, OHIO— Washington State Community College (WSCC) held its commencement on Saturday, May 15, with a socially distanced ceremony that celebrated the accomplishments of its students and marked the challenges of the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her address to the graduates, WSCC President Dr. Vicky Wood acknowledged that the pandemic resulted in the most challenging year in the institution’s 50-year history. “I know many of you enrolled in college as a means to change your lives and create a more prosperous future for yourselves and your families, and the pandemic only compounded your struggles. In addition to worrying about balancing college, family, and a job, you were suddenly trying to figure out how to maintain those expectations in conjunction with a host of other demands. I want you to know that I had each of your hopes and dreams on my mind when we began developing a plan to remove as many barriers as possible and keep you moving forward.”
The commencement speaker was local businessman and entrepreneur Damian Lang. The successful businessman whose achievements include the ownership of several businesses, authoring a book, and being inducted into the Masonry Hall of Fame, encouraged students to “Make sure you act on your ideas, your thoughts, and your dreams. There will be a lot of hard times, obstacles, and rough waters on your journey, but if you never give up on your ideas and dreams, you will reach your destination.”
Student speaker Alyssa Snyder echoed his sentiment of perseverance saying, “in life, it is important to push yourself and never settle… It is my hope that each of us here today never stop pushing your boundaries and challenging yourself.”
Graduate Harmony Izaguirre celebrated the day with her mother, husband, and two small children. Her family agreed that while Izaguirre received the degree, they all made sacrifices and supported her dream to earn a degree, including her husband who took an evening shift so Izaguirre could go to school during the day. “My daughter amazed me at her determination,” Cathy Shepard said proudly. As the 44-year-old crossed the stage to receive her diploma her family erupted in loud cheers. Izaguirre said her education means “endless opportunities for me. This is a stepping stone for me to do anything.” She was among 11 graduates from the Medical Laboratory Technology program, all of whom were employed before graduation.
The Class of 2021 was comprised of 323 graduates, 49 of whom are College Credit Plus high school students, 80 honors graduates, 16 Veterans, and 51 members of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society of two-year community colleges. In total, the college conferred 267 associate degrees and 101 certificates to its graduates.