05/12/06 — A goal achieved: Graduates turn tassels

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A goal achieved: Graduates turn tassels

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 12, 2006 1:54 PM

Wayne Community College presented 288 students with their General Education Development degrees and 95 high school graduates with their diplomas Thursday night during ceremonies in Moffatt Auditorium.

Tonight at 6:30, the college will confer 480 associate degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduates, the highest number in five years. The graduation will be held outdoors on campus unless it rains. If it rains, the ceremonies will be held at First Assembly of God Church on U.S. 70 bypass.

On Thursday night, speakers praised the graduates for overcoming many hardships to earn their diplomas.

Desiree Zuni, who gave the salutation, said she lost her mother at an early age and experienced eight deaths in her family in one year. But she said she is not the only one of the graduates Thursday night who dealt with struggles.

"I know that some people graduating here tonight have been in and out of trouble dealing with the law," she said. "I know that some of my fellow graduates have had to work with and overcome learning disabilities that have made school even more of a challenge for them."

She said some of her fellow graduates have no family and have had to make it on their own, not to mention the single mothers who have had to raise a child while continuing their education. Some have had to overcome drugs and alcohol problems, and some, like her, have had to work multiple jobs.

"Each of us here tonight has struggled to get to where we stand now," she said. "We are some of the really lucky ones. The Adult High School and GED program at Wayne allowed us to come back to school and realize our dreams."

And the adult high schoolers helped each other, said Public Information Officer Tara Humphries. One of the high school graduates forgot his tassel while they were standing in line to start the ceremony.

"Another one had brought two," she said. "It was one of the magical things that just seem to happen. He said tonight was so special that he just bought two."

The keynote speaker, state Community College Board Member Jimmie E. Ford, told the graduates theft are empowering themselves and strengthening their community by earning their diplomas.

"Don't stop learning, don't stop achieving and don't stop growing," he admonished them.

He praised Wayne Community as "a jewel in the crown" of the state's community college system.

"I'm not saying this just because I graduated from and worked at this fine institution. I say it because there is a strength that is here. I know you have experienced it. I hope you continue here at the college to experience even more," Ford said.

College President Ed Wilson also reminded the graduates that Wayne Community College is still here for them if they decide they need to add to their education.

"Tomorrow you will start the next chapter of your life," he told the graduates.

He said he is glad the ceremony is called "commencement and not graduation. This ceremony is really a beginning point for you for the rest of your lives."