COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Graduates from Glen Oaks Community College turn their tassels during the 54th annual commencement ceremony at the college Friday. Over 180 graduates were honored during the ceremony, the first one with an in-person audience since 2019.COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Abby McNamara, who graduated Friday with her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree, speaks to the graduating class after winning the President’s Award during Friday’s ceremony.

Glen Oaks honors students in Class of 2022

CENTREVILLE — Glen Oaks Community College’s graduation returned to a sense of normalcy Friday night.

For the first time since 2019, Glen Oaks hosted in-person guests to its 54th annual commencement ceremonies, where they graduated 181 students of the Class of 2022. In 2021, Glen Oaks held a virtual ceremony, where graduates were in person, but guests were not allowed in, with a livestream option available.

This year’s class was honored with all of the pomp and circumstance of a traditional graduation, with GOCC President Dr. David Devier highlighting that in his address to students at the beginning of the ceremony.

“We all know that life in more than two years has been completely changed due to COVID,” Devier said. “This evening is very special for our graduates and also for their families and significant supporters. I’m sure our graduates are very appreciative of the support they’ve received.”

Devier then asked all the parents, significant others, children, and other supporters of the graduates to stand and be recognized by those in attendance at Ken Schuler Court. A thunderous applause filled the air with each group. GOCC faculty was also recognized for their support of the students during the ceremony.

Next, Devier gave some statistics for the Class of 2022. The average age of this year’s graduating class is 26 years old, with the youngest being 16 and the oldest being 61. The average GPA of the class was 3.325. There were two dual-enrollment high school students graduating from GOCC with their associate degree prior to graduating from high school, as well as 41 Early Middle College graduates.

A video was also shown to those in attendance, focusing on two graduating students that attended GOCC as part of the state’s “Futures For Frontliners” program, which gave community college scholarships to people without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the state COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020.

Following the video, the college recognized a number of award winners for staff and students. The Outstanding Service Award went to maintenance assistant and public safety officer Tom Miller, the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award went to Carmen Hochstetler, the Distinguished Alumni Award went to Jade Klingler of Revolution Health, and the Fellows Award went to Raymond and Gretchen Dresser, Dale and Phyllis Gray, and James Riley.

The E.J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence Award went to nursing professor Susan Louis. In her speech, she talked about her journey to becoming a professor at GOCC after retiring from nursing. She said she was appreciative of the award, and called her professorship a “defining element” in her life.

“What became a retirement hobby has become one of the most defining elements of my whole career,” Louis said. “I loved making connections with the students, and I’ve seen you grow. I want you to take care of me if I ever need a nurse. As I watch you go through your careers and become experts yourself, I hope you take a little piece of me with you.”

Finally, the President’s Award went to Abby McNamara, who graduated with her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree. McNamara, the daughter of communications professor Michelle McNamara, said she wanted to be a nurse since she was 5 years old. She said she was honored to receive the award, and said she couldn’t have done it without a ton of support.

“Each and every one of us have amazing people in our lives that supported us, encouraged us and cheered for us every step of the way,” McNamara said, thanking her family, the college, and the nursing faculty.

“For me, Glen Oaks has been all about transitions. Through dual enrollment and CTE programs, I was able to transition from being a high school student to a college student easily,” said McNamara, who is going to attend Northern Michigan University this fall to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing. “Regardless of where your paths take you after tonight, the education you receive and the memories made here will be with you forever.”

The presentation of the class followed, with students traversing the stage on the south end of the gymnasium to receive their diplomas. After a half hour of diploma conferrals, Interim Vice President of Academics Christine Hammond gave the direction for the graduates to turn their tassels, signifying the completion of their time at Glen Oaks.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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