Lorain County Community College graduates celebrated life discoveries and academic success at the college’s 54th annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12.
The graduating class made history as the largest class with 2,018 students earning 2,179 two-year degrees and certificates, including 277 students who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the University Partnership.
LCCC President, Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., welcomed the audience as she spoke about this year’s Discovery theme.
“Graduates, reaching this milestone means that you made the bold decision to invest in yourself,” Ballinger told the 650 graduates in attendance. “Who you were when you started here may not be who you are today and that is the beauty of the discovery process.”
LCCC alumnus and keynote speaker Michael Brown shared his own discovery process, which brought him to Lorain County Community College nearly 40 years ago, where he began his higher education journey. Today, he is the president of Barrick Gold of North America, and a vocal advocate for community colleges.
“Community colleges are unique American institutions,” Brown told the crowd. “They are ‘Democracy’s College’ giving Americans from all walks of life the opportunity for a lifetime of education.”
Brown attended LCCC in the 1970s but transferred to The Ohio State University before earning his associate degree from LCCC. During Saturday’s commencement ceremony, Brown received his associate of arts degree that he began more than 40 years ago, joining the LCCC graduating class of 2018.
LCCC graduates represented the diversity Brown spoke about but came together as one graduating class to celebrate their accomplishments. And together they listened as one student, shared his journey in a poem.
Kenneth Glynn, a 2018 DREAM Scholar, brought his fellow graduates to their feet after reading a poem he had written for this year’s Achieving the DREAM conference. In it, he talked about where he once came from—and where he comes from now.
“I come from the courage to go back to school after losing my job at the steel mill, 20 years of back breaking work that filled my bank account but emptied my soul. I come from the mentoring of my professors and the counseling that I received from advisors. I come from the new passion they gave me to receive my 1st degree within 18 months. I come from Lorain County Community College where my dreams became a reality.”
Many students shared the discoveries they made on the LCCC campus, including the realization that they break down educational, social and economic barriers to become the first in their families to graduate from college. Nearly 50 percent of this year’s graduating class are first-generation college graduates.
“Five years ago, I never would have seen myself graduating with more than more than 70 college credits,” said Trecia Cintron, one of 65 students representing the tenth class of LCCC’s Early College High School program. “And now here I am soaring above and beyond my own goals.”
Cintron stepped onto the LCCC campus at just 15 years old—taking all her high school classes and associate degree coursework on the LCCC campus—and graduated with both a high school diploma, an associate degree, and a jumpstart on her next degree.
Like Cintron, 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.
Ballinger encouraged graduates to continue their paths of discovery even beyond achieving their educational dreams. The program ended with graduates ringing bells signifying the goals they reached and their journey into the future. “Sailing away from the shore in pursuit of discovery – what a perfect way to think of our LCCC Commodore graduates – charting new territory in their lives and finding new possibilities,” she said.