SANFORD — Excitement filled the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center Thursday as Central Carolina Community College held its 47th Summer Commencement Exercises.
“We did it!” Binna Lee, a graduation student speaker, told her classmates. “Let’s take this momentum and move forward to better things in life.”
Lee, of Lee County, came to the United States from Korea as a child. She dropped out of high school, but later earned a GED certificate. Eight years later, she recognized that she needed more education and enrolled at the college. She knew she had made the right decision when she saw that there were many other non-traditional, older students taking classes. With encouragement from her family and the faculty, she persevered and earned her Associate in Arts degree.
“When you think it’s too late, it’s the perfect time to start,” she said.
Many of the graduates typified her words. They were people in their thirties, forties, and older who returned to school to find new careers or fulfill a long-held dream of getting more education. Robert Jordan, 48, was one of them. Jordan worked at a grocery story in Carrboro when he decided to enroll in classes at the Chatham Campus. On Thursday, he received his Associate in Applied Science in Sustainable Agriculture
“It feels great,” he said with a smile. “Now, I hope to go on and get a university degree and go into teaching.”
During the summer semester, students completed work on 14 Associate in Arts, two Associate in Science, and 62 Associate in Applied Science degrees; 90 diplomas; and 81 certificates in a wide range of subject areas, from accounting to telecommunications. Some students earned multiple credentials. About 112 took part in the commencement exercises.
Ashley Lincoln, also a student graduation speaker, moved to Lee County from South Carolina to attend the college’s veterinary medical technology program. She received her A.A.S. in the program and now has a position as a veterinary technician at Duke University.
Lincoln said that, for her and her classmates, completing their degree, diploma or certificate work “was no walk in the park, but it was worth it.”
Six students were recognized for attaining the highest grade point averages in the graduating class: Binna Lee, Tommy Bridges Jr., Stephen Boyte Sr., Tena Glover, Andrea Johnson, and Tiffany Holloman. An additional 17 were recognized for maintaining a 3.75 or higher GPA. All were members of the college’s Alpha Theta Tau honor society.
Carl Bryan, the college’s 2010 Faculty Member of the Year, also spoke at the commencement. Drawing from his own life experiences, he advised those graduating to remember five principles: thank those who have help you, work hard, know that things won’t go as you plan, it doesn’t hurt to pray, and do something with your degree.
“You’ve got such a future ahead of you,” he said.
As the names of the graduating class members were called, they walked across the stage to receive their degrees, diplomas or certificates from college President Bud Marchant and CCCC Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Garrison. Family and friends in the audience cheered and applauded as cameras flashed, capturing the milestone moment.
“Graduation is the happiest day of the academic year for any college and the happiest day for the graduates,” Marchant said. “We are so proud of our students.”