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Howard Community College Celebrates Graduates at 48th Commencement Ceremony

Students at the 2019 HCC Commencement Ceremonies.

Students, their friends and families, college faculty and staff, and elected officials gathered at UMBC’s Event Center on Friday, May 24, 2019, for Howard Community College’s (HCC) 48th commencement ceremony. Dr. Kate Hetherington, president of HCC, congratulated the students for their achievements.

“Together, you have earned 1,479 degrees and certificates,” she said. “You’ve certainly achieved success and I’m sure it’s only the beginning. Congratulations!”

The ceremony featured several speakers and special guests, including Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Howard Council Chair Christiana Mercer Rigby, and Kevin Doyle, chair of the HCC Board of Trustees.

Doyle said he is confident the graduates’ education and experience at HCC have prepared them well for success.

“When you started at HCC, we promised you can ‘get there from here.’ And you have,” he said. “Take pride in your accomplishments. Continue to embrace the HCC mission of providing pathways to success, and remember to lead the way for others.”

Ball said while commencement is a very special time for graduates, it’s also a time of celebration for the entire Howard County community.

“With diplomas in hand, you will take on new roles – whether you enter the workforce or continue in academia to pursue a four-year degree,” he said. “I’m confident you will continue to make important and valuable contributions that will enrich Howard County, the state of Maryland, and the nation.” 

This year’s graduate speaker, Steven Hollies, studied English at HCC and plans to move to the United Kingdom to attend Aberystwyth University in Wales. Hollies suffered depression for 25 years before seeking professional help. He decided to attend HCC to grow his passions and self-love.

“For most of my life I didn’t realize I had power over my own story,” he said. “Everyone here is part of HCC’s story; the HCC story is part of you. That story doesn’t end here. We are at commencement. A beginning. A start.”

Dr. Ralph Semmel, director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, served as this year’s commencement speaker and offered the following advice to the crowd. 

“You must stretch yourselves and build on the gifts and uniqueness that you have and that you have sharpened through your education and life’s journey,” he said.

Following his words, HCC recognized Semmel with an honorary degree. Also recognized were students Julianna Henneberg and Eli Vogel, who each graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and received the Award for Academic Excellence, a $1,000 award provided by the Howard Community College Educational Foundation (HCCEF).

After turning their tassels and receiving their degrees and certificates, this year’s graduates hugged, danced, and cheered as music played and confetti fell from the ceiling onto their caps and gowns. As the newest HCC alumni, they will continue their own pathways to success.

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