Smiles, waves, and tears filled the Campus Coliseum at Anne Arundel Community College last night as over 600 graduates and their friends and families celebrated the 49th Commencement at the school.
“We are not just a community college, we are our community’s college,” said President Martha Smith in her opening remarks. “Tonight we celebrate our wonderful students and their impressive success.”
Nearly 3500 degrees and associate degrees, and over 600 certificates were awarded to the Class of 2011.
In one of her last speaking engagements as State Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Grasmick, who is retiring next month, congratulated the graduates, but told them that in this advanced technological world, learning can never stop.
“By the time Americans are 39, they will have had an average of 14 jobs,” said Grasmick. “You are about to enter a workforce with promotable skills. Remember, you have the potential to be great. Keep on learning.”
Valedictorian Dysha Huggins-Hodge, U.S. Staff Sargeant at Fort Meade, began her address by sharing her struggle with how to connect all of the graduates who came about their time at AACC and their educational process in so many ways.
Huggins-Hodge was assigned to Afghanistan right after she decided to pursue her degree at AACC in transfer studies. She took her courses online.
“Many of us fought uphill battles to get where we are today,” she told the audience. “I commend you all on being an example to our community.”
Susan Koller of Millersville served as a student marshal for commencement. She had worked for years in a medical office before deciding to change careers and pursue studies in nursing.
Barry McMenamin of Severna Park also served as a student marshal. He had worked as a bike messenger and in construction before the economy’s downward spiral. He earned a degree in engineering, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and a student Supplemental Instruction leader in physics for his classmates.
The entire ceremony is being repeatedly broadcasted on the AACC channel on local cable.