Richardson to RCC graduates: ‘Freedom starts between your ears’

Largest graduating class in 51-year history

By Leighton Bell
Richmond Community College

* Spring Honor lists

HAMLET — More than 300 of Richmond Community College’s 335 graduates attended commencement ceremonies held Saturday at the Cole Auditorium on RCC’s main campus in Hamlet. It was the third consecutive year the graduating class has seen growth and second year in a row that more than 300 degrees, diplomas and certificates were awarded.

Due to the record number of graduates, two ceremonies were held Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

An RCC photo

An RCC photo

“This is the largest graduating class in RCC’s 51-year history. And according to the Class of 2015, it’s also the best,” said RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis to thundering applause in his opening remarks.

McInnis provided the welcome for the ceremony and recognized the RCC Board of Trustees, faculty and staff.

Retiring Vice President of Student Services Saundra Richardson served as keynote speaker for both ceremonies, challenging graduates to carry themselves with respect and leave their mark on the world.

“I know it’s been a real journey for many of you to make it to graduation today, and in order to have gotten here, you’ve had to be persistent,” Richardson said. “And that’s the way it’s always going to be. In life, you’re going to have to continue to be persistent.”

Richardson described herself as “old school” and spoke about growing up during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.

“In life you always need to know where you’re going, but you also need to always remember where you’ve been,” she said. “I grew up in the 1960s when there were a lot of places I couldn’t go because of the color of my skin. But we’ve moved past that and risen above it. Had we not, I sure wouldn’t be allowed to stand here today addressing you as vice president of Student Services.”

An RCC photo

An RCC photo

Richardson said individuals who remember that time in America’s past realize that freedom is a product of education.

“Freedom starts between your ears,” she said. “There’s a whole lot of ignorance in the world, but I challenge everyone here to be above that. Educate yourself. And there is absolutely no excuse for you not to be able to. Richmond Community College has programs in place for everyone in this room to improve themselves.”

Richardson also stressed the importance of having and showing respect for oneself and others.

“I don’t know what’s going on in the homes these days, but we have a lot of students coming to us and acting as if they’re entitled,” she said. “You’re not entitled to anything. Everything must be earned. And as I look upon the graduating class today, I know that each of you have earned your chance to walk across this stage.”

RCC Student Government Association President Thomas McDonald also provided remarks during Saturday’s ceremonies, challenging his classmates to soar as eagles.

An RCC photo

An RCC photo

“The faculty and staff here have raised us up high where we can see our potential,” McDonald said. “Now it’s up to us go and make the most of our lives.”

Class of 2015 award recipients

Among the graduates honored Saturday were Class of 2015 award recipients. The Dodd-Moore Humanities Award, which is presented to the student who exemplifies both academic achievement in humanities and a humanitarian spirit, went to Jordin Norton. The Excellence in Science Award, going to the graduate who has demonstrated a special competency in science, was awarded to Danielle Guimaraes.

Kyle Pedley was the recipient of the Joseph D. Beam Excellence in Engineering Award, while Austin James Hunsucker received the Richmond County Historical Society Award for Excellence in History for being the graduate with the highest grade point average on all history courses taken at RCC.

An RCC photo Retiring Vice President of Student Services Saundra Richardson to graduates: “There’s a whole lot of ignorance in the world, but I challenge everyone here to be above that."

An RCC photo
Retiring Vice President of Student Services Saundra Richardson to graduates: “There’s a whole lot of ignorance in the world, but I challenge everyone here to be above that.”

Christi Miles was the recipient of the Robert D. Street Academic Excellence Award for Superior Achievement in Accounting, and John Louis Bowen received the Paul H. Many Award for Superior Performance in Electrical Electronics Technology.

 

Filed in: Education, Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Hamlet, Hoffman, Latest Headlines, News, Region, Rockingham

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