Posted May 18, 2019
Thousands gathered at Lorain County Community College’s 55th annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 18 to celebrate the 2019 graduates’ educational journeys and the impact that reaching this educational milestone will have on themselves, their families, and their communities.
LCCC President, Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., welcomed the audience as she spoke about this year’s Impact theme.
“Each of you has embarked on a journey to reach this milestone,” Ballinger told the 620 graduates in attendance. “By being here today you are showing the world that you are ready to take a bold step toward a bright future.”
The graduating class of 1,641 earned 2,083 two-year degrees and certificates, and an additional 353 students earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the University Partnership. This graduation class marks the first to count toward the college’s new strategic plan, called 10,000 Degrees of Impact, which includes the promise of 10,000 individuals earning a degree or certificate by the year 2025.
Keynote speaker Allan Golston, president of the US Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shared his experiences meeting some of this year’s graduates, their stories of persistence and the impact their educational milestone will have on their life and the lives of those around them.
“I met Marjorie Cintron, a grandmother of five who, for decades, had dutifully raised her family, always putting everyone else first, until finally, in her 60s, she decided it was time to do something for herself,” he told the crowd.
Today, Cintron crossed the stage to earn her associate degree – the same day as her granddaughter, Eleana Cintron, a graduate of the Early College High School program and NASA Glenn Research Center intern, received both her high school diploma and two associate degrees.
Golston said the Cintron family is an example of how education can create opportunity across generations.
“Just ask Eleana why she’s reaching for the stars,” Golston said. “I bet her answer will have something to do with her grandma, Marjorie, who’s walking across the same stage as her today.”
He encouraged every graduate to realize the impact they can have on helping others in their families and communities reach educational goals – just as they have today.
Brandy Spradlin has seen that inspiration firsthand. Spradlin earned her associate of arts in May 2018 – the same time that her daughter, Ashley, earned her degree through the Early College High School program. At today’s ceremony Spradlin earned her associate degree in nursing and this time, was joined by her son, Chase, who is graduating from Early College High School with his associate of arts degree.
Ballinger told Spradlin, who has another daughter in the Early College High School program on track to graduate in 2021, that she has been an inspiration to her family and others.
Another inspirational message came from graduate Julian Colbert. Colbert earned two degrees through LCCC’s College Credit Plus program and, after graduating from Clearview High School next month, will attend The Ohio State University, where he has been awarded a full scholarship through the Morrill Scholars. The message Colbert shared in the essay that helped secure his scholarship was about the diversity he embraced growing up in Lorain and attending LCCC.
Colbert, was one of 58 high school students earning degrees through the CCP program – including 21 students from Lorain High School. And 78 more students graduated from LCCC’s Early College High School with their high school diploma and associate degree.
Like Colbert 70 percent of today’s graduates plan to transfer and continue their education—either at LCCC or by transferring to a four-year institution, including the more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the LCCC University Partnership.
One of those planning to continue their journey is Morris King. The Navy veteran spent nine years sailing the world, serving on three ships that took him to 17 countries. When King came home at the end of his duty in 1988, he began a 21-year career with the United States Postal Service in Cleveland. Even before his retirement from the post office, Morris began taking classes at LCCC, working toward a degree in electronics. Today, he earned a degree that he says is more than 40 years in the making with plans to continue for a bachelor’s degree with Cleveland State University.
Before asking all the graduates to move their tassels and congratulating them on their accomplishments Ballinger encouraged them, just as Golston had, to pay forward this and other positive experiences of their lives.
“The opportunity to impact the future never ends and so you must never stop,” she said. “Never stop believing in yourself. Never stop working for your dreams, and never stop helping others along the way.”
For more information on LCCC, visit https://www.lorainccc.edu/graduation.