"Called To Rise"

by Heidi Butler
May 22, 2014

Commencement 2014It was a commencement that graduates of Northampton Community College will not soon forget.

Photos of memorable moments from their years at NCC flashed on the large screens in the Arthur L. Scott Spartan Center as retiring Vice President for Student Affairs Mardi McGuire-Closson shared lessons she has learned from students over the years.

"The obstacles are many for NCC students," she said, mentioning financial strains, disabilities, uncertainty in the beginning about academic goals, demanding work schedules, and periodic exhaustion. "If you see them only as obstacles, that is what they will stay," she pointed out. Instead - she said - members of the Class of 2014 set high goals for themselves and achieved them. By the end of her speech she had the students on their feet dancing to the contagious beat of Pharell Williams' "Happy." 

Karl Stackhouse, the chair of NCC's Board of Trustees spoke of the risks the graduates had taken in entering the arena of higher education.  He quoted from a famous speech Teddy Roosevelt delivered in 1910, proclaiming that "credit belongs to those are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly....who at the best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

NCC's president, Dr. Mark Erickson, praised the diversity of the Class of 2014, noting that the 794 graduates range in age from 18-69 and hail from eleven countries. Each student, he said, has a unique story. The examples he cited included Heather Cross who rode the bus to NCC for 6 years to earn her degree, serving as a role model for her children and grandchildren, and Tamikah Millen, once homeless, who earned her degree with a 3.9 average.

Earlier in the evening Dr. Precie Schroyer, assistant professor of English, spoke on behalf of the faculty, noting that their welcome was not only "a literal welcome," but also "a symbolic welcome to a new world" - a world in which the graduates have "new rights, privileges and responsibilities." Reciting part of a poem by Emily Dickinson, she said:

Commencement 2014We never know how high we are

Till we are called to rise

And then, if we are true to plan,

Our statures touch the skies

She urged the graduates to rise as they go forth into the world.

And so they commenced.

You can enjoy highlights of commencement day and share your own photos using the hashtag #nccgrad2014 on Facebook, Instagram or  Twitter.

View more photos of commencement in NCC's Flickr gallery.




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