Family, achievement and helping others were themes at Northampton Community College's (NCC) 45th spring commencement, on May 23 at the Spartan Center. Eight hundred and forty-six graduates, ranging in age from 18 to 82 received associate degrees, certificates and diplomas at the ceremony.
Karl A. Stackhouse, chair of the board of trustees, opened the event by praising the graduates for being persistent and remaining focused. He compared educational attainment to climbing a ladder and reminded the graduates to look up and also down, to help others who are making their way along the rungs.
Dr. Jeffrey Focht, vice president for academic affairs, called upon the graduates to thank their families, professors and college staff, who helped make their accomplishment possible. "We never achieve things alone," he said.
Hope Horowitz, assistant professor of sociology and social work, advised the graduates to ask themselves how they will contribute to society. "No matter what your path," she said, "I hope your memories of NCC will continue to propel you forward. "
Dr. Mark Erickson thanked the Class of 2013 for showing him the true meaning of the Northampton Way during his first year as NCC's president. "You will make an impact on your community, your country and the world," he said. "You are part of the Northampton family."
Carmen Twillie Ambar, J.D., president of Cedar Crest College, spoke about her parents, expressing her admiration and appreciation for them. "They were incredible," she said. Her father was the first in his family to go to college. Raised in a small town in Arkansas, and one of ten siblings, he worked picking cotton and plowing fields from the age of six. Knowing he wanted a different life, he enrolled, as a young man, at Philander Smith College, a historically African American college, on a football scholarship. His decision to achieve higher education, Ambar said, changed not only his life but those of his children and descendants. He went on to earn a master's degree and to become a high school principal. His three children became a college president, teacher and trauma surgeon. "Four generations from slavery, you can see the mobility of education," Ambar said. "You can see what education can do for you and your family. By pursuing education, he made an impact on his children, his children's children and their children." Ambar's mother also championed education. She has a Ph.D. and is a college professor.
Ambar emphasized the need to keep learning and shared the ten principles she wished she'd known when she was younger:
See photos of the event here.