HCC's Largest Graduating Class Celebrates Commencement
Howard Community College celebrated its 45th annual commencement ceremony on May 24, with college faculty and staff, elected officials, friends, and family of the graduates in attendance.
It was a record-breaking year for Howard Community College (HCC), with a total of 1,472 students who were candidates for graduation during this academic year. It is the highest graduating class in HCC’s history. Dr. Kate Hetherington, president of HCC, congratulated everyone who helped accomplish this achievement.
“What makes me most proud is that, over the past seven years, through lots of hard work, HCC has seen a 92 percent increase in the number of graduates,” said Dr. Kate Hetherington, followed by a round of applause.
The ceremony, which took place at UMBC’s Retriever Activities Center, featured several speakers, including Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Howard County Council Chair Calvin Ball and Edmund Coale III, chair of the HCC Board of Trustees.
Coale told the Class of 2016 that Howard County will be better and stronger because of them.
“Just as you built a new future at HCC, I am confident you will build a brighter tomorrow,” Coale said. “When you started at HCC, we promised you can ‘get there from here.’ And you have. You are leading the way for others. Take pride in your achievement.”
Kittleman applauded the graduates’ academic accomplishments, adding that he was certain they will have promising futures.
“Each of you has a unique story to tell,” Kittleman said. “What you share in common is that you persevered, and today, you will receive your degrees. This is more than a piece of paper. It is a tangible symbol of your achievement, as well as the many successes to come in the future.”
Dr. Ball commended Tuesday’s graduates for overcoming any obstacles to get where they are today.
“I know that each one of you had a unique journey to Howard Community College,” he said. “No matter what brought you to HCC, you all have faced challenges. With the support of family, friends, faculty and staff, you overcame these challenges, and you succeeded.”
Student speaker Anthony Coyne faced challenges of his own. About three years ago, he dropped out of high school at the age of 16. At the time he was working at McDonalds and was not motivated to be in school. He first attempted college in the fall of 2013 at HCC, but he failed his first two college classes.
One year later Coyne watched as his friends graduated high school and went to college, and he continued to work full time on a minimum wage salary. He finally recognized that he needed a college education to move ahead, and he returned to HCC again.
“HCC gave me the resources I needed,” Coyne recalled. “I just had to make use of them.”
Coyne graduated with an associate degree in network security and, after taking his first classes over again, he earned a 4.0 grade point average. He will transfer to the University of Maryland University College to work toward a bachelor’s degree in computer networks and cybersecurity.
Dr. Philip Rous, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UMBC, served as this year’s keynote speaker and shared the following wish for each graduate.
“May you enjoy a life rich in the knowledge that each day your work and your relationships have truly made a difference.”
Before the tassels were turned, Bernadene Hallinan-Smith and Ronald Roberson were recognized with honorary degrees. Hallinan-Smith started the nursing program at HCC and was its first director. Roberson has served HCC for 21 years as a faculty and staff member and continues to support students through the Ronald X. Roberson Scholarship.
HCC also recognized graduating students Kyle Sutton and Elizabeth Von Buhr, who each received the Award for Academic Excellence, a $1,000 award provided by the HCC Educational Foundation.
As the graduating students moved their tassels and picked up their diplomas, they smiled to applause from their families and celebrated their own pathways to success. The ceremony concluded with Dr. Hetherington welcoming all the graduates as the newest alumni of HCC.
View the Storify below to relive all the commencement excitement, as seen through the eyes of the graduates, family, friends and HCC faculty and staff in attendance.