On a breezy Friday evening at Kelso’s Schroeder Field, about 375 Lower Columbia College students of varying ages and backgrounds were honored for their tenacity at the college’s 82nd annual commencement.
“I have never seen a group of individuals … with such a complete determination to better themselves,” Associated Students of LCC President Clinton Howard said in his speech. “The determination of my peers is unmatched.”
LCC President Christopher Bailey echoed Howard’s appreciation.
“I’d like to recognize our incredible students for their hard work, late nights and persistence that led to this celebration today,” he said. “You are amazing and inspiring each and every day.”
According to an LCC press release, the college awarded 531 associate degrees, 113 high school diplomas and 15 GED certificates in the 2017-18 school year. 149 of those associate degrees were received by Running Start students, who earned high school diplomas at the same time.
The evening’s commencement speaker, LCC alumnus and Longview investment adviser Max Anderson, told the graduating students that they had made the college a better place. He gave a special shout-out to the local grads.
“By staying local for your education, you’ve strengthened your roots that are part of the appreciation and perhaps even love that you have for this community,” he said.
He also implored the graduates who were transferring to other schools to return to Cowlitz County afterwards.
“Please, don’t forget that you have established strong roots in the community,” he said. “Trust me on this: If you choose someday to return, having attended LCC will only make that much easier to quickly and successfully integrate.”
The evening’s optimistic, energetic spirit was best encapsulated by Clinton Howard’s opening quote.
“Christopher Reeve once stated, ‘So many of our dreams at first seem impossible. Then they seem improbable. Then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.’ ”