“Life happens when you are making other plans. So maybe some of the unexpected demands of earning a degree grew tiresome and you had found yourself pleading, ‘Why me?’“ Andrew R. McIntosh told the group of soon-to-be college graduates at Northampton Community College’s (NCC) Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 23 at the Spartan Center.
McIntosh, a popular professor at the Monroe Campus whose name was met with cheers by students as he took to the podium, spoke about the trials and tribulations many of the students had faced. He described juggling work and school, computer problems, transportation issues, dealing with family struggles, money worries and more.
“Did any of this happen to you? And did you ask ‘Why Me?’” he questioned.
He then listed the many ways he has seen students transform into scholars in their time at NCC, as they learn persistence, dedication, how to work in a group and make new friends, de-stress techniques, collaborate with their professors, and above all learning that no one goes it alone.
“And that simple question ‘Why me?’ you had been asking, as you worked your way through every class, through each semester, through each year, obtaining grades, accumulating credits, watching your GPA, did that simple question ‘Why me?’ become ‘Why NOT me?’” he asked. “Yes, why NOT you?! You have earned it. You have developed a successful mind state in your field that you will be able to employ anywhere in your life. The same rules still apply: process, persistence, dedication, teamwork. You have gained those admirably in obtaining your degree in the midst of a myriad of challenges. Celebrate that fact and let no one tell you otherwise.”
Numbering 794, the transformed scholars McIntosh described ranged in age from 18 to 67, hailing from 15 countries. 29 graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson congratulated the graduates and told families, parents, and friends that it was also their day. “Because without you, and your support, many of these graduates would not be here.”
He then shared inspiring stories of several graduates, highlighting their triumphs in order to achieve their goals.
Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, president of Kutztown University, gave the commencement address. He understands more than most the unique journey Northampton Community College students took to reach this day.
“I was the first in my extended family to attend college. When I first arrived on the campus of Elgin Community College 42 years ago, I never imagined I’d be asked to share my story with a group of community college students,” he shared.
Working three shifts while trying to juggle school, he found the faculty and staff supportive and helpful. “Community colleges give access to students with little money and who have to work full time,” he said.
He went on to earn bachelor and master of arts degrees from Western Illinois University and a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University. Dr. Hawkinson was named president of Kutztown University in 2015, and he told the students, “We love transfer students.” Kutztown is one of the top transfer schools for NCC students.
After the graduates were each recognized by name and received their diplomas, they were welcomed into one of the oldest, continuously active community college alumni associations in the country by Rebecca C. Zavilla ’17, director of meeting and group sales at Hilton Garden Inn Allentown-Bethlehem Airport.
She encouraged the graduates to “use Northampton as a stepping stone and a home base to achieve your goals. Come back often and connect with us. Update your profile on the NCC website, connect on social media, come to alumni and college events, share advice, mentor students, and engage the classes, clubs and organizations that you were a part of and continue to solidify your legacy here.”
Graduate Michelle Tatosian was presented with the Trustee Leadership Award by Bruce Palmer ’77, vice chair of NCC’s Board of Trustees. The award, given for exceptional service and leadership qualities, is the highest student award NCC presents.
Lucille H. Keim, associate professor of radiography, served as commencement marshal. Mary Bolan sang the national anthem and the NCC alma mater.
The event concluded with joyous cheers and applause as the proud graduates and their family and friends celebrated their achievements.
Check out the NCC Student Spotlight featuring some of our Spring 2019 grads!
And here are photos from the commencement ceremony!