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Northeast celebrates student success at 49th commencement ceremonies

Northeast celebrates student success at 49th commencement ceremonies

NORFOLK, Neb. – The customary Pomp and Circumstance march became quite familiar by the end of the day Friday at Northeast Community College. Three commencement ceremonies were held to mark the 49th annual tradition at the Norfolk-based college.
Nursing graduates received their nurse pins and participated in commencement to begin the day. The second ceremony awarded credentials to graduates in Applied Technology and Health and Public Services programs, while graduates in Science, Technology, Agriculture and Math and Business and Humanities received their degrees, diplomas and certificates to conclude the day. 
Dr. Leah Barrett, president, spoke of the diversity of learners that make up the Northeast Class of 2022. She said there is a determination among the graduates to overcome any challenge with a tenacious spirit and a commitment to “living the good life.”  

“Eighty-five percent of our graduates will choose to stay in Nebraska for their first destination after Northeast and nearly 70% will choose to stay in this region – returning to their hometowns, returning to their farms, and starting to live the good life as a college graduate,” Barrett said. “We know that for many of our graduates here today they are the first in their family to earn a college degree. The college degree that we celebrate will lift-up your family in spirit and in opportunity. Congratulations to all the graduates of the Class of 2022. Your experience at Northeast has prepared you with the skills to tackle the challenges of your profession with a “can-do” spirit, a respect for others, and I hope great memories.”

Andrea Suhr, physical therapist assistant instructor, used a metaphor of a sailboat in her faculty address. She said as the graduates prepare to leave to begin the next phase of their journey, it is important to celebrate the small things. 

“Celebrate the customer you help, the patient you care for or the sales goals you reach. Do not focus your attention on the setbacks or metaphorical headwinds; focus on learning to overcome the obstacles,” Suhr said. … “You are the captain of your sailboat! So tomorrow - okay maybe next week, you might need sleep - set sail toward your next goal and remember these words by an unknown author, “Sometimes in the wind of change, we find our true direction.” 

Jacob Svitak, of Randolph, gave the student address. As a non-traditional student, he shared the struggles he faced years ago as he began his higher education journey at a four-year university, leaving college and then working in a job that wasn’t for him. He said he had a clearer “Why” and a new work-ethic after enrolling at Northeast. 

“I had to keep in mind what I wanted out of life as well as what I didn’t want. I had to stop spending my energy in places that drained me and stopped me from giving everything I could to my goals,” Svitak said. …“So, to the Class of 2022, I hope that my story of failure and success has resonated with you. You are not going to have to have all the answers right away, but I challenge you to think about what you want. What a pity it is to waste your life doing things you don’t want to do for other people if those things don’t bring you joy. Do what makes you happy and try to help others along the way. Go forward and work towards a goal every day.”

Svitak was awarded an Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy. He will soon begin work as a field service technician with Brenton Engineering in Alexandria, Minn. 

Approximately 840 graduates, including those earning more than one degree, and those who completed their studies this past summer and fall, were listed in the commencement program. The 840 students earned 956 degrees; 71 earned two degrees, 18 earned three degrees, and three earned four degrees.

All three ceremonies were broadcast live by members of the Northeast Community College Media Arts – Broadcasting, and Media Arts – Audio Recording Technology programs. Ceremonies may be viewed online at



                                                                                              PHOTO CUTLINE 

Faculty, staff, administrators and Board of Governors’ members of Northeast Community College congratulate graduates after one of three Commencement ceremonies in the Cox Activities Center on Friday. Three ceremonies were held as part of the College 49th annual Commencement.