College News

CCCC celebrates 46th Spring Commencement

Click to enlarge CCCC celebrates 46th Spring Commencement

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Graduating student Amber Clark delivered one of the addresses Thursday at Central Carolina Community ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC celebrates 46th Spring Commencement

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Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant reaches out to shake the hand of graduating ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC celebrates 46th Spring Commencement

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Amanda Matthews, of Harnett County, gets a family group hug following her Thursday graduation from ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC celebrates 46th Spring Commencement

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Holly Williams, of Chatham County, shares a smile with her boyfriend, Jay Lento, after receiving her ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC celebrates 46th Spring Commencement

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Brandy Harrington, of Lee County, gets a hug from her fiancÚ, Durrell Minter, after receiving her ... (more)


SANFORD - Jubilation broke out Thursday in the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center as Central Carolina Community College’s Class of 2009 moved the tassels on their mortarboards from the right side to the left, symbolically signaling their graduation.

Family and friends of the graduating class filled the Civic Center exhibit hall for the event. As the tassels were moved, the crowd cheered enthusiastically, waving flowers and balloons that they would present to their graduates, while cameras snapped and flashed all around the hall.

The graduating students had walked into the ceremony to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing expressions of happiness and relief, tinged for some with a shade of disbelief. They walked out to the strains of “God of Our Fathers,” heads held high, beaming smiles of pride and hard-won achievement.

“It feels wonderful!” said graduate Amanda Matthews, of Harnett County, who received her Associate in Applied Science in Office Administration.

Matthews’ husband, son and sister were on hand to celebrate her big day with her.

“I’m proud of her,” said her husband, Daniel Matthews, as he gave her a hug.

Matthews, who works for Campbell University, is already an online student at East Carolina University, working on a degree in information technology. She smiled and said that her Central Carolina associate degree now gives her ranking as a junior at ECU.

Two graduation ceremonies were held due to the large number of graduates and the family and friends who wanted to be there for their big day. The degree program took place at 1 p.m. and the diploma and certificate, at 4 p.m.

Biology instructor Jessica Brown gave the commencement address at both programs. In 2008, Brown was chosen by her peers at the college as the Instructor of the Year. The North Carolina Community College System also selected her as the recipient of its prestigious R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award.  It is given annually to the instructor chosen as the best at the System’s 58 member colleges.

“During our lifetimes, not many of us will have the opportunity to change the world, but we all have the opportunity to change our world every day,” Brown told the graduating class. “Education is your empowerment to change your world. You have been given the opportunity to each day change your world, so give your best. You never know how you may empower someone just by passing on your knowledge.”

Brown noted the graduation was a particularly special day for the college because the first class of students in its dental hygiene and latent evidence programs were graduating.

Student speakers were from each of the college’s three-county service area: Sarah Mangum, of Harnett, and Amber Clark, of Lee, spoke at the 1 p.m. program; Wesley Seawell, of Chatham, at the 4 p.m. program. Mangum received her Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Clark and Seawell both received Associate in Arts-University Transfer degrees.

Mangum shared a thought from a greeting card she had received about imagining, dreaming and creating the reality of one’s goal.

“We have imagined it, we have dreamed it and we have created it,” she told the graduating students. “Today proves every one of us has remained strong and persevered.”

Clark spoke of the diversity of the graduating class, saying she was thankful that the college’s curriculum is so diverse there is something for everyone. She brought laughter from the crowd by quoting from former president George W. Bush’s commencement address at his alma mater, Yale University: “To the honor students - well done! To the ‘C’ students, you too can be president of the United States!”

Seawell reminded the students that this graduation was “but one victory that is the prelude to many more. Never accept anything short of your dreams as your reality.”

Seawell, an Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq, urged the students to “live the American dream.” That dream, he said, is not a big house and flashy car, but “the faith and hope that if you work hard and never give up, your goals can be reached and your dreams made reality. In truth, the American dream is the universal dream of humanity. As for me, I will not stop, and with the help of the Lord God Almighty, I will not slacken my resolve until my dreams are reality.”

Students graduating with the highest academic averages were recognized during the programs: Associate in Arts degree students Jackie Dawn Brooks, of Harnett, and Melody Renee Hamilton, of Lee County; Associate in Applied Science degree students Brenda Jean Reilly, of Lee County, and Holly Lynn Williams, of Chatham County; and Diploma student Ben Kelly McCall III, of McDowell County.

Graduates had completed their studies for 284 Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees. In addition, 107 diplomas and 348 certificates were also earned, with some students earning more than one. About 250 students walked in the graduation programs.

“This is an exciting day, my favorite of the academic calendar,” College President Dr. Bud Marchant said. He took the helm at the college in August, following the retirement of former president Matt Garrett. Thursday was Marchant’s first Spring Commencement.

“This is the realization of these people’s dreams and aspirations,” he added. “It’s something they have worked hard for and their families have worked hard for. It’s the start to a whole new life.”