SARANAC LAKE - More than 300 North Country Community College students were awarded degrees and certificates during the college's 46th commencement ceremony, held in the Sparks Athletic Complex gymnasium Saturday morning.
But that wasn't all they walked out the door with. They were also granted "a gift," as college President Steve Tyrell put it.
"The gift is this," Tyrell said in his first commencement speech since he was hired to lead NCCC last year. "With this achievement comes a responsibility to lift others up who follow you. Your family, your friends, your instructors, your advisers, college staff - all of them believe in you. That was their gift to you, to believe in you, to believe in your potential, even at times when you doubted yourself.
North Country Community College graduates smile as they listen to remarks from the college’s commencement speaker, state Assemblyman Dan Stec, during Saturday’s 46th commencement ceremony at the Sparks Athletic Complex gymnasium in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"The achievement of an educational credential is a true accomplishment, but it's also a gift. It's a gift that makes a commitment to humanity, that with education, we can make humanity a bit better through one additional act of kindness, through one additional creative thought that advances humanity, through one more skill acquired that brings each of us closer together than separates us further apart."
Tyrell's remarks opened a commencement ceremony where associate degrees in arts, science and applied science were awarded to 285 students. Another 86 one-year certificates were awarded for office technology, community residence aide, practical nursing and computer graphics. A large crowd of family and friends filled the gymnasium, cheering as each graduate crossed the stage to shake Tyrell's hand and receive their degree or certificate.
"I'm pretty excited," said Nick Hanson of Saranac Lake, who was awarded a criminal justice degree. "It's been a fast two years. I can't wait to move on and broaden my horizons."
Hanson said he hasn't made up his mind about which career path he'll take although he's considering law enforcement, becoming a lawyer or working for a government agency like Border Patrol.
"Wherever I can find a job, but eventually I'd like to come back," he said.
Ian Henderson of Chateaugay graduated with a sports management degree. He said he plans to continue his education at Utica College.
"It feels pretty good to get my degree and move on," he said. "It's been tough, but all definitely worth it."
State Assemblyman Dan Stec delivered the commencement address, telling the graduates that NCCC is at the top of a world class state university system.
"Whether you are moving forward to further your academic career, or whether you're going to enter the workforce, you are well prepared for whatever you choose to do," he said.
Like Tyrell, Stec reminded the graduates that their achievements wouldn't have been possible without the support of their parents, friends, and college faculty and staff.
"You now have a responsibility as you move forward to pay it forward and remember that you didn't get here alone," Stec said. "As you move forward in your careers, give back to your communities and participate in your communities. Try to leave the world a little bit better place than you found it.
"Don't take yourself too seriously. Remember what's important. Plan for the future. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Be there for each other, and remember for those that are coming behind you what it was like to be here today."
A reception was held in the college connector after the ceremony.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.