On Saturday, May 4, a stream of eager graduates entered a packed gym at the Lamar Community College Wellness Center for the college’s 80th Annual Commencement ceremony. In just a short time, those students would become LCC alumni.
Dr. Linda Lujan, LCC President, opened the commencement with a brief welcoming address. She remarked on the hard work of the graduates, congratulating them on their accomplishments.
“At LCC, we have a saying and it’s our mission: we enrich lives through learning,” Dr. Lujan said. “Students, thank you for giving us the opportunity to enrich your lives. We are so proud of you and we know as a Lamar Lope that you will go into the world and continue to make us proud.”
Following the welcome, Colton Crawford offered the invocation and Morgan Reed sang the National Anthem. Dr. Annessa Stagner-Stulp, Dean of Academic Services, then introduced James Moffett and Anamarija Mikovic to the stage, two student speakers both chosen by LCC faculty to represent the student body at commencement.
Moffett graduated with an Associate of Science from LCC. He is a student athlete, and came to LCC to play basketball. He served in Student Government and played a vital role in creating student orientation content for Phi Theta Kappa. In the future, Moffett plans to continue playing basketball and to study international business or environmental science.
Mikovic came to LCC on a volleyball scholarship from Serbia. She is a dedicated student athlete, having earned a 4.0 cumulative GPA. She has worked closely alongside James Moffett to create orientation content for Phi Theta Kappa. Mikovic will continue her studies at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she will continue to play volleyball and will focus her studies to marketing and finance.
Dr. Lujan then introduced the keynote speaker Joe Garcia, Chancellor for the Colorado Community College System.
After congratulating the graduating class and their families, Chancellor Garcia explained the value of education in his own life, “I was a different person because I had that degree.”
He understood that earning a degree meant that he could face challenges and overcome them, and that he would be able to imagine a better future for himself. It was his education, he explained, that afforded him the opportunity to become a lawyer, community college president, university president, and elected official.
Garcia reminded the graduates of their immense accomplishment in reaching that day and the lesson they could carry with them – “What you don’t know, you can learn.” He urged them to believe in themselves, to try new things and to take risks.
“Don’t think this is only for you, or about you,” Chancellor Garcia challenged. “The world needs the energy, ideas and courage of the young, the educated and the motivated who know enough about the world to know what in it needs to be changed.”
“Ambition for its own sake is a hollow dream, but the ambition to help others-to serve- is always its own reward.”
Chancellor Garcia’s final piece of advice for the graduates was to “stay connected” to their family and friends, “even as you soar to new heights and travel to new worlds. It matters to them, and it will renew your spirits when you are down.”
“You have many more hills to climb, and your walk is not yet ended,” he concluded. “Keep walking. Climb that next hill.”
Chancellor Garcia has been in his current role with the CCCS since August 2018. He oversees the state’s largest system of higher education, serving 137,000 students annually at 13 colleges and 39 locations across Colorado. Prior to his current position, Garcia served two years as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He also served as the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2011 until 2016, and as president for various colleges and universities.
Dr. David Frankel, current president of LCC Faculty Senate, then certified the graduating class while Dr. Lujan granted authority to confer certificates and degrees.
Dr. Byron McClenny, chair of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education, conferred authority to President Lujan to award degrees and certificates. He also shared about his personal experience at a community college and encouraged the graduates to always keep learning.
Before certificates and degrees were awarded, Dr. Lujan acknowledged an empty chair in the front row of the student section-a gesture to honor Robert “Joe” Trimble, a student who passed away unexpectedly in his construction trades class in the fall of 2018.
“He is greatly missed by all of us because he was such a kind person and so motivated to succeed,” Dr. Lujan said. “He completed his courses with honors and has enough credit hours to satisfy the requirements for a certificate in Construction Trades Essentials.”
His construction trades instructor Mr. Tim Courkamp accepted the certificate on Trimble’s behalf.
While not all graduates chose to march in the commencement ceremony, approximately 113 certificates and 118 degrees were awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year.
After closing remarks by Dr. Lujan, graduates and their families and friends were invited to a reception held on the lawn outside the Wellness Center. Congratulations to all 2019 graduates of Lamar Community College!