MCCC celebrated its 45th annual commencement Friday evening, April 27.
The words of MCCC’s 2012 alumnus of the year, Alan Barron, echoed through the Welch building’s gymnasium as he addressed a gathered crowd of around 1,400 people – with countless more watching via a live television broadcast by Monroe Public Access Cable Television.
“We are here tonight at this graduation commencement to honor and celebrate your achievements, your hard work, your determination, and your success,” Barron said.
“Today, the hard part begins: your new future.”
The 2012 graduating class included 561 students. Two were selected to speak; Rhonda Haener from MCCC’s Occupational Program, and Damien Weaver from the Transfer Program.
“I grew up in the town of Newport, where the men went to work at the auto plant or on the farm and most of the women stayed home with the children,” said Haener, a married mother of four.
“That is the way I was brought up. I always dreamed of getting married, having children, and being a stay-at-home mom. I had no desire to attend college.”
Haener went on to talk about her Aunt Bev, who encouraged her to do more and get a degree from MCCC before her death to breast cancer in 1985.
“Maybe she thought I had what it took to succeed in college,” Haener said.
Haener chose to pursue her dream of starting a family instead. It was years later before she would enroll at MCCC.
“I wanted to be able to help my husband with finances and enable him to retire from working a swing shift,” Haener said. “I also knew it was time to set new goals and obtain a degree.”
Haener talked about the difficulties of balancing school with family and went on to thank her family, fellow students, the MCCC faculty, and MCCC’s Vice President of Student and Information Services Randy Daniels, for helping accomplish her new goal and earn a degree.
“I have really enjoyed taking classes and working towards this degree,” Haener said.
The second student speaker was introduced by Lisa Scarpelli, assistant professor of geosciences, who presented him with rock hammer as a gift. Weaver, from Ottawa Lake, worked as a supplemental instructor for Scarpelli and intends to transfer to Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
“The thought of attending graduation had never even crossed my mind,” Weaver said.
Weaver talked about his last year of high school and the overwhelming sense of bewilderment about what to do next.
“While everyone around me knew what they wanted to do, filling out applications and getting on with their lives, I was trying to figure out what to do for the rest of my life,” he said.
To Weaver’s surprise, his high school nominated him for MCCC Board of Trustees scholarship, which covers two years of school.
“I did not know I had been awarded the scholarship until close to my graduation. It looked like fate had decided for me,” he said.
Weaver was interested in becoming a geologist, and his time spent at MCCC cemented his decision.
“I want to thank the faculty and administration for providing all of us with an excellent education that will open doors to our future,” Weaver said.
“I’m sure all of you are wondering how your life will unfold; I know I am.”