Lorain County Community College Graduates Soar at 58th Commencement Ceremony

Press Release
Posted May 14, 2022

Lorain County Community College honored the graduating class of 2022 on Saturday, May 14 at its 58th annual Commencement Ceremony. As LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., welcomed the graduates, their families and their supporters, she introduced the meaning behind this year’s Soaring to New Heights theme, in which SOAR stands for Success and Opportunity Advancing the Region.

In this community, we are rooting for you, and you are never alone,” Ballinger said. “Because as you rise up, you elevate those around you. When you fly high, we all soar.”

The class of 2022 included 1,773 individuals earning 2,193 associate degrees or certificates and an additional 351 earning bachelor’s or master’s degrees from the University Partnership.

During the ceremony, Ballinger highlighted that among today’s graduates, more than 40% became the first in their families to earn a college degree. One of those first-generation college graduates was Tasha Miller. With the help and compassion of her professors Miller overcame several obstacles outside the classroom to reach her educational goals within. Inspired by her grandfather, Miller earned her associate of applied science degree in medical diagnostics sonography.

“This college is amazing and I am so grateful to have been able to attend school here,” Miller said. “The staff truly cares about their students and want them to succeed.”

Many first-generation graduates are part of the Lorain County Early College High School (ECHS) program, which provides an opportunity for students to earn a high school diploma and associate degree at the same time. This year, 127 students earned an associate degree or certificate at the same time they complete high school through ECHS or other dual enrollment programs, including College Credit Plus and Career Technical Education. These programs are delivered at no cost to students, saving families more than $1.3 million in tuition.

One ECHS graduate, Sierra Mobley of Elyria, earned her high school diploma and not just one but two associate degrees from LCCC.

“LCCC and Early College helped me to save a lot of money and it’s given me a faster start on my education,” Mobley said.

Much like Mobley, who plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing next, 70% of today’s graduates who were enrolled in a typical transfer pathway plan to continue their education at LCCC or transfer to a four-year institution.

Andrea Ortiz, who’s earning her associate of applied science in corrections, plans to continue her education to pursue a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and possibly a doctorate in criminal justice. The 32-year-old woman from Lorain chose LCCC for its low cost, convenient schedules, and student support programs.

“LCCC is very welcoming and everyone was willing to answer all my questions,” she said. “Whoever is nervous or skeptical about signing up for class should take the risk; they will be grateful in the end of the journey.”

For those looking to continue their education and remain on the LCCC campus, the University Partnership program provides an accessible next step. The innovative program was created to help increase Lorain County residents access to bachelor and master’s degrees and celebrated its 25th anniversary this academic year.

Among the graduates who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the University Partnership today, two were mother and daughter, Colette and Sarah Park of Wellington. Colette, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Cleveland State University, used her educational attainment to secure a better job. Sarah was looking to graduate college with as little debt as possible and followed LCCC’s earn and learn program, working part time while she earned her Bachelor of Applied Science in Automated Manufacturing Engineering Technology degree from The University of Akron.

“I wanted to continue on a path that wasn’t going to drive me deep into debt and that I could afford without taking out loans or minimal loans, if possible,” Sarah said. “That’s why I chose the University Partnership.”

Since 2000, Lorain County has experienced a 77% increase in the number of Lorain County residents with bachelor’s degrees. Adding to that increase are the four graduates who today earned their bachelor of applied science degrees directly from LCCC.

Paul Gonzalez, Jonathan Ellis, Cody Wootton and Kurtis Jeffries became the second class to graduate from LCCC’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Microelectronic Manufacturing (MEMS) degree program. LCCC has been training students in the field since 2013, when it became the first community college to offer an associate degree in MEMS, and made history again in 2018 as the first community college to deliver an applied bachelor’s degree in the area.

“These graduates are building a workforce pipeline that makes Lorain County and our region an important link in the production of microchips and semi-conductors,” Ballinger said.

All four MEMS bachelor’s degree graduates have been working in industry-related positions part time while in the program, which costs less than $15,000, and those positions will transition to full time with benefits after they graduate.

“I feel like I kind of cheated in a way; like it’s too good to be true,” Jeffries said. “The work that the program director and all the supporting staff have done to make this degree so palatable to local industry has really made a huge difference in all of the students’ lives.”

With the addition of this year’s graduates, LCCC has now reached 72% of its goal of 10,000 more individuals with college degrees or credentials by the year 2025 – part of the college’s 10,000 Degrees of Impact strategic plan adopted in 2019.

As Ballinger concluded today’s ceremony, she encouraged graduates and their guests to visit the SOAR outdoor display. The 200-foot-long installation of 2,022 sculpted birds was designed to celebrate the class of 2022, the University Partnership’s 25th anniversary, and LCCC’s commitment to student success and advancing Northeast Ohio, through education and career training.

“It is our hope that the class of 2022, along with the more than 46,000 alumni of both LCCC and the University Partnership, take flight and achieve the life and career of their dreams,” Ballinger said.

For more 2022 graduate stories visit commencement.lorainccc.edu/stories/