Commencement weekend brings smiles, pride

SCCC Nursing students
Nursing graduates Geena Steffens and Katie Keeton pause to savor the moment before the Capping & Pinning ceremony Friday evening.

More than 300 students participated in various graduation ceremonies at Seward County Community College over the weekend, beginning with the traditional nursing capping and pinning ceremony Friday evening. First- and second-year nursing students received their honors, and expressed appreciation to friends, family, and instructors.

Commencement for students seeking associate’s degrees and certificates began at 10 a.m. Saturday. The 47th annual SCCC commencement brought alumna Sheina Fernandes to the podium as speaker, and she encouraged students to work hard, even when goals seem improbable.

SCCC commencement speaker Sheina Fernandes
SCCC Alumna Sheina Fernandes addresses the graduates during the commencement ceremony. 

“I came to SCCC and could hardly understand English,” she said. “Two years later, I graduated with academic awards and more good memories that I could have dreamed of. Anything is possible if you are willing to work hard.”

The graduation exercises also included more than 20 area high school students, some juniors, who had completed certificates or associates’ degrees before earning their high school diplomas.

“We are continuing to open doors of opportunity for students throughout our service area,” said Director of Outreach Mike Bailey. “There are concurrent classes in the schools, the SB 155 courses here on campus that are offered at no cost to students, and Outreach classes in the evenings and after school hours, so we’re offering a lot of options. It’s pretty neat to see the kids stepping up and making the most of that.”

Following the formal event, graduates, families and friends gathered in the courtyard to take selfies with SCCC Mascot Louie the Saint, snack on refreshments, and savor the lively music and dancing provided by the Cinco de Mayo committee. Folkloric dancers “Omawari Ballet” from a technical college in Delicias, Mexco, traveled to Liberal to perform for the holiday and the college’s festivities.

At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, ceremony began again as more than 50 of the 77 Colvin Adult Learning Center students who had earned their Kansas High School Diploma received their awards. Known as the “GED,” the high school equivalency certificate represents tremendous grit, said Dean of Adult Basic Education Travis Combs.

GED Graduate and daughters
Family celebrates as this mother shows off her GED certificate, following the Kansas High School Diploma graduation ceremony. 

“This is always a diverse group of students, but they share an amazing quality of determination and a desire to overcome disadvantages and be more empowered through education,” he said.

SCCC President, Dr. Ken Trzaska, described the weekend as a tremendous success and a reminder of why the team at SCCC exists.

“What we see during commencement week is just a small slice of the effort, but is the result and the motivation to continue,” he said. “The goal is not perfection, the goal is betterment, collaboration, determination, and it’s incredibly inspiring to see so many students who are doing that.”

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