A stream of blue-clad graduates entered a packed gym at the Lamar Community College Wellness Center for the college's 79thAnnual 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 all of they have accomplished.
"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 Lope that you will go into the world and continue to make us proud."
After the Invocation given by Pastor Rory Gillespie and National Anthem sung by LCC freshman Rajae Drew, Dr. Annessa C. Stagner, Dean of Academic Services, welcomed the two student speakers to the stage. Laura Lindholm and Michelle Batista were chosen by LCC faculty to represent the student body at commencement.
Lindholm spoke of self-determination and reminded her fellow graduates that how they view the world can help better themselves, saying, "Your perspective, your decisions, your attitude, your positive outlook, will help better yourself in everything you do."
She also encouraged everyone to plan for the future, but to take large goals one day at a time, urging her classmates to be prepared to face challenges on a daily basis, but to never lose sight of that is important to them.
Lindholm graduated Magna Cum Laude with an Associate of Arts in Business. She is a native of Eads, and has been highly involved on campus as a student worker in Academic Services and as a member of DECA and Phi Theta Kappa. She was also chosen as one of LCC's members of the Phi Theta Kappa All-Colorado Academic Team.
Batista spoke of the many highlights of her two years at LCC, including making lifelong friends, meeting outstanding role models, and even listed the accomplishments of this year's athletic teams. She praised her fellow student-athletes for their ability to juggle many responsibilities and still perform well on the court or field.
"I think it's safe to say that we all raised the bar this year," Batista said. "It isn't easy - but we've earned it."
She encouraged her fellow graduates to go the extra mile, saying, "It's the little steps you take without even noticing that mean the most," and encouraged to fellow students to accept the challenges that life throws their way while knowing that they may not be able to overcome them immediately.
"Here's to us, Class of 2018! Go Lopes!"
Batista came to Lamar Community College from Johnstown, Colorado, and earned her Associate of Arts degree. She has been highly involved as a member of the volleyball team, Resident Assistant, student worker in the Wellness Center, and member of Phi Theta Kappa. She was also recently honored as one of LCC's best and brightest with the Rising Star award.
Dr. Lujan then introduced Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and the chosen keynote speaker.
"I feel pride in your work, excitement for you, and hopeful for your future," Dr. Reed said as she addressed the graduates. "You go forth from Lamar Community College, prepared to go out and improve our world."
She recognized our students for their sacrifices and hard work, as well as the importance of their accomplishment, for not only themselves and their families, but for their communities, their state, and beyond.
"We believe in education because it is transformational for our graduates but it is foundational for our democracy."
"When I look at you as our graduates today, I see you for who you are," she said. "Keepers of the dream. Architects of opportunity. Builders of bridges. Educators of children. Nurses. Leading us into our future. We see you and know that you represent the hopes and dreams of your family."
Dr. Reed even highlighted the unique student body of LCC, especially those students wearing their cowboy hats underneath their mortarboards at the ceremony.
Dr. Reed encouraged all LCC graduates to ask themselves, "What would you do if you could not fail?"
"The one certain thing in life is uncertainty," she said. "But it's up to you to decide your measure of success, whether you will embrace life with all of its uncertainty and move forward with pride and confidence even though you understand that uncertainty exists."
She reassured students that their failures do not define them, saying, "You will not be judged in this life by how you stumble or how you fall, but how you get up, how you move forward, how you reach out to others in service beyond yourself. Know that you are equipped and ready to change this world because you are graduates of this fine institution."
Dr. Reed noted that this is a trying time in the world, but that she had faith in the Class of 2018 and its ability to make positive change in the world.
"We know that you will be model citizens," she said. "That you will ensure that we are not divided into corners, us versus them, black versus white, poor versus rich. That we will come together, to focus on what we can do to improve society and improve our world. That hate and hate speech have no place here. That we are about uniting and moving this world forward."
"As emerging leaders, we know that you have great things to do, great challenges in this world," she continued. "We look to you to help solve some of our biggest challenges and problems. How will you leave your mark on this world? How will you make it better because you have been there?"
Finally, she encouraged the graduates to continue looking forward while remembering where they have been, staying, "Embrace life in all its challenges and all its uncertainty. Know that you are enriched because of all you have done and all you will continue to do."
Dr. Reed has served in her current role with the CDHE since March 2017. Immediately prior, she served in President Obama's administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education, leading postsecondary diversity and inclusion work, supporting strong student and outcomes focused policies and aggressive national outreach efforts. She also led the White House Initiative on Historically Black 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.
While not all graduates marched in the commencement ceremony, approximately 140 certificates and 180 degrees were awarded for the 2017-2018 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.