Whether it’s entering the workforce or continuing on with their education, the 343 graduates recognized at Northeastern Junior College’s 79th annual commencement ceremony Friday are bound to do great things.
In order to avoid overcrowding in the Bank of Colorado Event Center, the college held two ceremonies this year, with no attendance restrictions.
Friday’s ceremonies started with the graduates proceeding into the BCEC to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by the NJC Concert Band under the direction of Lee Lippstrew. Students were led into the ceremony by Faculty/Staff Marshal Kevin Stump and Alumni Mace Bearer William H. St. John, from the class of 1952.
Following a performance of the “National Anthem” by the NJC Contemporary Choir, under the direction of Celeste Delgado-Pelton and an invocation by graduates Maya McQuigg and Talon Glanz, NJC President Mike White gave the welcome.
“This is a significant accomplishment, and I’m sure one of many for these talented young men and women,” he said, congratulating the graduates for succeeding despite enduring many disruptions to their education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “They were not deterred, they demonstrated perseverance, determination and grit and they have merged successfully, they have set an example for many to follow and I’m incredibly proud of every one of them, as is the entire Northeastern Junior College faculty and staff.”
Following his remarks, the graduates heard from Associated Student Government President Brandon MeInikoff, who asked them to re-imagine what the letters N-J-C stand for, “what I think Northeastern does best is that NJC is a campus and is community that creates a place of nurturing, justification and conviction.”
He pointed out that a class that was told for two-plus years to stay home and away from each other, because of COVID, has “learned to go out, to work together and paint the picture of the world that they want to be in.”
MeInikoff told his fellow graduates as they move on they will experience both success and failure and encouraged them “in all of this good and bad surround yourself with people who care, love and inspire you like you’ve experienced here at Northeastern.”
After his speech, MeInikoff invited his fellow ASG officers Kathleen Marty and Jayce Maker to present the Joel Mack Award, which goes to outstanding teachers selected by the student body, to Larry Pollart, animal science professor, and Kevin Stump, physics/math instructor.
Prior to presenting the awards, Maker noted how nice it was to be able to have a traditional in-person commencement ceremony after only getting to experience a drive-in ceremony for his high school graduation.
Next, the students heard from Mark Kokes, president of the NJC Alumni Association. Instead of the traditional Pride in Association Award, he spoke about efforts underway to revamp and reboot the association, by adding more benefits to being an alumni member and updating their communication efforts, among other changes.
A new opportunity that the Alumni Association is starting is a sponsorship program, where alumni can consider sponsoring a student to attend NJC. Those who participate are asked to give a gift of $250 or more and the Alumni Association with match contributions up to $500, giving sponsored students up to $1,000 to start their journey at NJC. If you don’t know a student but still want to contribute, you can donate to the matching funds to help future NJC students enjoy the positive collegiate experience NJC is known to foster.
“To the class of 2022, share your story of NJC and encourage friends and family to be a part of something great,” Kokes said.
Later, White recognized several student award winners. The Charles F. Poole Award, given to scholastic class leaders who attend only NJC and continuously contribute to campus life, went to Kierra Ehnes, from Julesburg, Riley Grauberger, from Iliff, Oliver Lemily, from Sterling, Akayla Mahaffey, from Sterling, and Dylan Viebrantz-Zavatini, from Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Additionally, the Armilda R. Dowis Award, given to an outstanding graduate in an occupational program, went to Chase Hume, from Sterling, and Brian Riggle, from Sterling.
Following the awards, Dr. Linda Merkl, vice president of academic affairs, presented the class of 2022 to President White and students were invited on stage to receive their degrees and/or certificate.
After a benediction by Ainsley Fischer and Kaylee Soule, the new graduates receded out of the gym and on to the next chapter in their lives, as a special version of “Pomp and Circumstance,” arranged and performed by Northeastern Alumnus Bowen Brandt, played.