Leadership the Focus of WCCC Graduation

June 2, 2016

Students in graduation gownsThe importance of becoming an effective leader was echoed throughout the 47th annual graduation ceremony for Washington County Community College, held on Friday, May 13th.  Graduates received their Associate’s degrees in sixteen fields, and many others received certificates for completing work in related fields, as hundreds of friends, family, classmates and WCCC faculty and staff looked on.

“Whether you choose to be, or whether you have it thrust upon you, you will be a leader,” instructor Rose Binda said to the graduates during the Distinguished Faculty address. “You do not need a title or to hold a position to be a leader. The titles they hold are often ordinary: Mom, Dad, friend, and neighbor.” She shared a story about her grandparents and their restaurant and how they held the neighborhood together during the Great Depression, and implored the graduates to keep their personal relationships strong. “The bond leaders build in community with others is an enduring gift sown in hope and with love, for it is love that makes all things possible.”

Appropriately, the graduation ceremony was opened with a performance by drummers from the Passamaquoddy tribe. Passamaquoddy member and WCCC student Alberta (Bowe) Lewey explained that the song was a joyous song about coming of age. “It’s about honoring all the people in the house,” she said. “The children, the women, and the men.”

Many graduates relayed their experience at WCCC as one of coming of age, of finding oneself as a strong, independent person strengthened by their community bonds. Kimberly Stuart, in her address as Student of the Year, shared her story of overcoming personal and financial struggles to complete her degree. “Between the stress of school and the stress of my personal life, I didn’t feel like I could go to classes,” she said. When a friend told her she was “too smart to give up,” she pushed herself forward and made it through. “Through this experience, I learned that there are people out there to help pick me back up when it’s needed. You too know those people. They are the ones you can rely on—the ones who challenge you to be a better you.”

WCCC proved to be the ideal place for some graduates to discover their potential. For Gordon Cameron, who graduated with a degree in mechanical technology on Friday, the journey began when he came to WCCC to find work in the Career Center. Instead, he wound up taking an aptitude test, and based on his results, he was encouraged to enroll in classes. “I’m so glad I did,” Cameron said. Last week, Cameron received the Instructor’s Choice award, and was nominated to be Student of the Year. “It makes me feel really good that someone would recognize me. I tried really hard.”

Effort makes all the difference, as each of the other speakers at graduation emphasized. President Emeritus Dr. Bill Cassidy began his education at the Northern Maine Community College, starting in a manner exactly similar to Friday’s graduates. He called their graduation “an accomplishment that affirms that Maine people are willing to work hard to achieve their dreams.”

By working toward their dreams, the graduates of Friday’s ceremony have already made an impact on those around them, Joyce Maker emphasized. “You don’t have to be in politics to make a difference in your community. Each of you have already made a difference in someone’s life just by graduating today.”