Central Carolina Community College Class of 2008 graduates
Erica Scott (right), of Bear Creek, gets a big hug from her dad, Larry Scott, following her graduation ... (more)
Jennifer Marano (right), of Sanford, receives a congratulatory hug from Central Carolina Community ... (more)
Central Carolina Community College’s graduation Friday at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center ... (more)
Trey Bowden (left), of Sanford, looks proudly at his wife, Tiana Murchison, following her graduation ... (more)
SANFORD - Cheers filled the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center Friday as members of Central Carolina Community College's Class of 2008 walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
Family and friends greeted the announcement of each name with enthusiastic cheers, applause and the snapping of lots of photos of the memorable occasion.
The joy and excitement were two-fold as the college held two ceremonies. The Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, and Associate in Applied Science students received their degrees at a 1 p.m. commencement; diplomas and certificates were awarded at a 4 p.m. commencement.
Those who completed their coursework during the first semester were included in the exercises, because the college does not have a fall graduation. A total of 56 A.A., 12 A.S., and 151 AAS degrees, were earned, with 173 attending the graduation. A total of 115 diplomas and 358 certificates were earned, with some students earning multiple degrees and certificates.
"It's taken me a while," graduate Jose Hernandez, of Sanford, said following the degree ceremony. He earned an AAS in Industrial Systems Technology and will now attend East Carolina University. "I'm the first in my family to graduate college. Without the help of God, I couldn't have done it."
Kennon Briggs, Vice President for Business and Finance for the North Carolina Community College System, delivered the commencement address at both exercises. Dr. Scott Ralls, who became the NCCCS president on May 1, was originally scheduled to speak, but unforeseen circumstances prevented his attending.
Briggs, whose parents were from Harnett County, told the graduating class of the impact of community colleges on his life. His mother married at 17, but later divorced and was left with two sons to support. She graduated from a community college, then went on to further education, creating a successful life for herself and her children.
"It's not where you begin, but where you end," he said, mentioning several students who had overcome challenges to achieve their educational goals. He challenged the graduates to go on and become contributing members of their communities, adding, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."
Jennifer Marano, of Sanford, graduated from high school 19 years ago. She finally returned and earned her AAS in Paralegal Technology. Marano served as spokesperson for the 2008 degree graduates.
"It is never too early or too late to get your education," she said. "Remember the greatness that lies within you - and the magic of your childhood dreams."
M. Steven Garrett Jr., President Garrett's son, received his degree in Industrial Systems Technology. The president warmly congratulated his son onstage with a hug. The 2008 spring graduation also held a poignancy for President Garrett because he retires in September after 21 years at the college.
"This is my last spring graduation," he told the graduates and guests. "It's a very special day for me." He then added, "Graduation is always a very special day for the college because it's the culmination of months and years of hard work on the part of the students. It's been a very good year, largely because of the contributions your class has made. As you walk across the stage, we know you are proud of your achievements. We are probably even more proud of you, because you are our finished product. You are why this college exists. Teaching will always be what the heart of this college is about."
During the ceremonies, students with the highest academic averages were recognized: AA/AS programs - Daniel Melvin Smith, Brittany Elizabeth Beckwith, and Orbie Gwinn Etheridge; AAS programs - Sharon Batson Johnson, Nancy Jane King Whalen, Orbie Gwinn Etheridge, and Louise Diane Panatoski; and Diplomas - Raymond Lacy Braxton, James Benjamin Godbee, James Owen Johnson Jr., and Cathy Lynne Holland.
Erica Scott, of Bear Creek, earned her AAS in Early Childhood/Teacher Associate. After the 1 p.m. ceremony, she hugged her proud dad, Larry Scott. With a big smile, she then summed up her feelings and those of all the graduates: "I'm happy!"
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