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VGCC Graduates Encouraged to Succeed and to Serve

N.C. Senator Doug Berger called the 228 members of the graduating class at Vance-Granville Community College “the hope of our region” during his remarks at the college’s summer commencement exercises, held in the VGCC Civic Center on August 8. This graduation was the second of two such ceremonies held annually at the college. In May, more than 430 graduates received degrees and diplomas.In the North Carolina General Assembly, Sen. Berger represents Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties — the same four counties in the college’s service area. Berger noted that his duty as a graduation speaker was to give advice, and to do that, he needed to relate examples from his own life, not only of the peaks, but also of the valleys in his life. “I didn’t get here just by having success after success,” Berger said. He offered three key recommendations to the VGCC graduates: “To be successful, you’ve got to be willing to take reasonable risks; second, you have to look at failure as an opportunity,” the senator said, “and third, your success isn’t defined by your job or by how much money you make — it’s also what you do for others.” He called upon the students to use their skills to create opportunities for those who are less fortunate. “You live in the midst of the greatest disparity between wealth and poverty in this state,” Berger said. “You can make a difference by giving back to your community.”Speaking on behalf of her fellow students, Carolyn C. Slade of Norlina, incoming president of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, also urged graduates to “take the knowledge you have gained, and use it to empower others and yourselves.” Slade, who was graduating with a Medical Assisting diploma and returning to complete the Associate in Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting, said that students had built up “an overwhelming reservoir of knowledge” at VGCC, but they should “not cease in the quest for knowledge and wisdom.”In a forceful address that quoted Dr. Martin Luther King and the William Ernest Henley poem “Invictus,” Slade thanked the college’s faculty and staff, as well as graduates’ families, and challenged her classmates “to live in the moment, but to think in the next.”VGCC President Randy Parker thanked the faculty, trustees, state legislators and county commissioners for their contributions, which have helped the college become “one of the premier community colleges in North Carolina, which met all 12 of the state’s performance measures this year.”After Dean of Adult Basic Education Leo Kelly, Jr. and Vice President of Instruction Dr. Angela Ballentine presented the candidates for graduation, VGCC Board of Trustees chair Donald C. Seifert, Sr. assisted President Parker in awarding degrees and diplomas.The summer graduating class consisted of 228 students. Students were awarded approximately 50 Associate in Applied Science degrees (in programs such as Criminal Justice, Information Systems and Medical Office Administration), 6 Associate in Arts degrees, 2 Associate in Science degrees, 2 Associate in General Education degrees, 115 technical and vocational diplomas (in programs such as Industrial Systems Technology, Nursing and Carpentry), 32 adult high school diplomas, and 24 high school equivalency diplomas, or GEDs.Slade led the new graduates in ceremonially turning their tassels at the conclusion of the ceremony. “I want you to let the four counties know how proud we are to be the graduating class of 2007,” Slade said, leading the graduates to erupt in thunderous applause and shouts of joy.Students serving as marshals for Summer Graduation included Adrian E. Davis and Faye B. Orr, both of Henderson; Kati Brantley Ayotte and Tina Williams Holden, both of Louisburg; Dawn Mathews Tom and John Williamson, both of Oxford; and Nichelle L. Taylor of Wake Forest.Above: Vance-Granville Community College student Carolyn C. Slade (right, at podium) speaks at VGCC’s summer graduation exercises on Aug. 8, as (left, seated) N.C. Senator Doug Berger and VGCC trustees listen. (VGCC Photo)