What do you remember about your graduation day? The feeling of accomplishment? Maybe relief? The excitement or anxiety of what comes next? Or maybe just sheer joy while crossing that stage with your friends and family looking on?
This month, millions of students are creating their own graduation memories as they complete the milestone of graduating from high school or college.
I had the chance to meet a few of these students and I was so inspired by them. Like Kenneth, who lost his job at a steel mill and made the tough decision to go back to school to help jumpstart a new path. There’s also Chris, who dropped out of high school but returned to school years later to earn a degree in microelectronic manufacturing so that he could give his children more opportunities than he had growing up. And Marjorie, a grandmother of five who raised her family until her 60s and then decided it was time to pursue her own education. Last weekend, she walked across the graduation stage alongside her granddaughter Eleana.
These students all attended Lorain County Community College (LCCC), where our U.S. Program president Allan Golston spoke for commencement. LCCC is an example of transformation, building their academic and advising services and creating an early alert system to help students before they fall off track. The result? In the last eight years, LCCC has increased the percentage of students receiving a degree or certificate by nearly 80 percent. This is just the beginning of their journey and I am excited for the doors that these credentials will open for them.
These stories – and so many others – remind us that personal transformation is hard, but possible, and that institutional transformation is still needed so that there can be even more of these stories.
Let’s celebrate this year’s graduates and strive toward creating more!