Lorain County Community College Graduates Unlock Opportunity at 59th Commencement Ceremony
Posted May 12, 2023
Lorain County Community College honors the graduating class of 2023 on Saturday, May 13 at its 59th annual Commencement Ceremony. The year’s theme – Unlocking Opportunity – brings an inspirational message to the proven correlation between earning a degree or credential and improving economic mobility.
“Such hope and meaning lie in our theme of unlocking opportunity,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “Opportunity, though sometimes hard to see, is always there. And while accessing that opportunity isn’t always easy, it’s always possible. And at LCCC, we will help our students make anything possible.”
This year, a grand total of 2,222 graduates are earning 2,635 degrees and credentials from LCCC. This includes 1,888 students earning 2,293 LCCC degrees and certificates – 10 of which are a Bachelor of Applied Science degree – and another 344 graduates earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the LCCC University Partnership.
With this year’s graduating class, LCCC takes a large step toward reaching a bold goal that was embedded in its recent strategic plan. By 2025, LCCC committed to helping 10,000 individuals earn an LCCC degree or credential that will impact themselves, their families, the economy and our community. As the class of 2023 crosses the stage, LCCC reaches 91% of that goal.
Among the graduates, 44% will help pave the way for future generations as the first in their families to earn a college degree or credential. One is John Trubach of Sheffield Lake. He is earning a Bachelor of Applied Science in Microelectronic Manufacturing and has already begun his career in printed circuit board design.
“For me, it was all about the cost of attending community college,” he said. “I’ve never had to take out student loans to pay for my college – I’m graduating with zero debt.”
Also crossing the stage are 160 graduates earning an associate degree or certificate at the same time or even before they complete high school. Because of LCCC’s strong K-12 partnerships, these students participated in dual enrollment programs, including Lorain County Early College High School, College Credit Plus and Career Technical Education. The programs are delivered at no cost to students and this year’s dual enrollment graduates saved their families more than $1.7 million in tuition.
Sheliya Cordero, one of the Lorain County Early College High School graduates, said taking on high school and college courses at the same time was challenging, but the experience taught her resiliency and showed her career pathways that interest her.
“The ability to choose my classes as a high school student taking college classes has helped me decide that I would like to continue to study in the fields of psychology and social work and be able to help others,” Cordero, of Lorain, said.
“Our mission has always been to provide access to high-quality, affordable education,” Ballinger said. “But it’s not about earning any degree to get any job. LCCC is laser-focused on providing equitable education opportunities that lead to careers with family-sustaining wages. And these dual enrollment programs that provide free college credits to high school students are pivotal in that process.”
LCCC’s efforts in driving students toward family-sustaining wages has been bolstered by the Aspen Institute and the Community College Research Center, which recently named LCCC as one of only 10 community colleges in the country to their selective “Unlocking Opportunity” network. The college’s involvement will amplify its impact over the next five years as it continues to meet students where they are and deliver degrees and credentials that help take them where they want to go.
The idea of transformative opportunities unlocked by education is encapsulated in the “Unlocking Opportunity” art installation dedicated to the 2023 graduating class. The 30-foot-long illuminated banners feature 12 icons with key words selected by this year’s graduates. The words resonate with their experience at LCCC and are accompanied by an augmented reality component that can be unlocked by visitors with their cell phones.
Of the featured key words, associate degree in nursing graduate Bianca Young relates most to the word ‘empower.’
“My journey was not easy, but it was definitely empowering,” Young, from Oberlin, said. “LCCC provided an opportunity to pursue a childhood dream of becoming a nurse. I’m now headed to a career that I wasn’t sure was possible.”
For Stephen McDonald, who’s earning his Master of Business Administration from Lake Erie College through LCCC’s University Partnership, the word ‘persist’ best defines his journey.
“The word commencement means ‘to begin’ and, although I experienced small, systemic achievements along the way, my career is beginning anew with this degree, at the age of 55. And persistence enabled me to continue working toward this goal.”
Ballinger, an LCCC University Partnership alumna herself, encourages this year’s graduates to embrace today with confidence in tomorrow.
“As the 2023 graduates go toward their future, I hope they do so with the confidence that comes from reaching this goal,” she said. “With their degrees, they have earned the key to unlocking opportunity. And their future story is up to them to write.”
For more 2023 graduate stories, visit commencement.lorainccc.edu/stories