NORFOLK, Neb. – There was a flurry of activity this weekend on the Norfolk campus of Northeast Community College as the institution marked its 48th annual commencement with six ceremonies. Three ceremonies were held Fri., May 21, and three more on Sat. May 22. The change this year was to accommodate social distancing in the Cox Activity Center.
Leah Barrett, president, told graduates at each of the ceremonies that they are leaving Northeast with the most unique higher education experience of a generation, describing the Class of 2021 as the students who thrived.
“I use the word ‘thrive’ because it is defined as growing vigorously. The pandemic will not define you. Your reaction to it is what will define you,” Barrett said. “What you have learned, how you have changed, how you have thrived – that is what will define you as a continuing student, or as a new employee. I hope all of the experiences you have taken from Northeast Community College will stay with you in the years to come. Please embrace change as you continue your life’s journey – it is an exciting adventure that is all yours.”
People often call such an event as “graduation;” however, Barrett stressed the ceremony is better defined as commencement. She said graduation marks the end, while commencement marks a beginning.
“The awards presented to you today demonstrate your resolution to succeed and obtain a degree or credential in your chosen profession. Your investment in your education will return tremendous dividends back to you as you use your skills, your knowledge and your tenacity to succeed,” she said. “The pandemic has created a class of graduates who are more eager to contribute, lift others up, show grace, and stay determined to cross the finish line.”
Anthony Beardslee, audio recording technology instructor, gave the faculty address. He congratulated the graduates for their hard work and determination over the past year. He said they came to college not only for an education, but for an experience.
“You’re here. You made it through, and you’ve earned the right to be sitting here today,” he said. “You have every reason to be proud of yourself, and to consider that degree as your badge of honor.”
Beardslee said any employer who looks at the resume of a COVID-era college graduate should sit up and pay attention.
“By getting here today, you have proven that you have all the qualities that employers are looking for: flexibility, resiliency, determination, drive, problem solving, working under pressure. In a job interview in the not-too-distant future, you will surely be asked to name a time in which you overcame a challenge. I’m sure you will be able to name several examples.”
Two graduates were selected to give the student address.
Blake Bartling, Verdigre, who received an Associate of Arts degree in Communications on Friday, said although COVID-19 made for a challenging year, he can see that it actually made most graduates stronger.
“COVID made us better. It made us more resilient,” Bartling said. “We learned to make the most of the situation, mostly because we had no choice. No other class but the Class of 2021 had to endure what we went through, which I believe made us the most resilient and hard-working graduates yet. I know that we can handle whatever life has in store for us next!”
Dara Ness, Kennebec, So. Dak., told her fellow graduates in ceremonies on Saturday to take the lessons they have learned and use them to the best of their abilities - and that includes failure. She said failure is tempered by how one plans to succeed.
“Anyone who has obtained success has undoubtedly encountered failure. The two tend to go hand in hand. Good thing it’s not the failures that define you. It’s the amount of effort and devotion you exhibit in the times of defeat,” she said. “As you go out into life and you encounter failure, remember it’s not the end of the world. Our failures are what shape us into better people; they’re what teach us the hardest lessons in life. The best-earned success comes from the hardest failures.”
Ness earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology.
Approximately 905 graduates, including those earning more than one degree, and 259 who completed their studies this past summer and fall, were listed in commencement programs. This includes two students who completed their studies in spring 2020. The 905 students earned 997 degrees; 56 students earned two degrees, 10 earned three degrees, and five earned four degrees.
All six ceremonies were broadcast live by members of the Northeast Community College Media Arts – Broadcasting, and Media Arts – Audio Recording Technology programs. The production team included instructors Brian Anderson (broadcasting), Anthony Beardslee and Timothy Miller (audio recording technology), students Ben Walker, Gibbon, and Mauricio Parra, Norfolk, and Tim Fenton, learning space technologist at Northeast.
Ceremonies may be viewed online at https://www.team1sports.com/northeastcc/
Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College, presents an Associate Arts degree diploma to Morgan Eickmeier, of Bellwood, during one of the College’s 48th Commencement ceremonies this past weekend. Six ceremonies were held Fri., May 21, and Sat. May 22, in the College’s Cox Activities Center on the Norfolk campus. Approximately 905 graduates, including those earning more than one degree, and 259 who completed their studies this past summer and fall, were listed in commencement programs. This includes two students who completed their studies in spring 2020. The 905 students earned 997 degrees; 56 students earned two degrees, 10 earned three degrees, and five earned four degrees.