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Howard Community College Celebrates Graduates at Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Congratulations Graduates!

Howard Community College (HCC) marked 50 years of graduates at its 2021 virtual commencement ceremony May 27. The college celebrated 1,293 students who were candidates for graduation, collectively earning 1,448 associate degrees and certificates. Graduating students, families, and friends watched the ceremony through the college’s special commencement website, YouTube, or Facebook.

“This has been an academic year like no other, and I must commend each and every one of our graduates for their fortitude, and for staying focused on their end goal, even when their lives were turned upside down,” said Dr. Kate Hetherington, president of Howard Community College. “I am truly honored to be your president and to watch you achieve your degree or your certificate.”

“Graduation is a special milestone, marking that moment when you close a chapter on your life and prepare to begin another one,” said Felícita Solá-Carter, chair of the Howard Community College board of trustees. “No matter what the future brings, your community college education prepares you well for success.”

As the student speaker, Farah Alabdulrazzak shared her personal story of success at Howard Community College. Originally from Syria and Saudi Arabia, Alabdulrazzak came to the United States to earn a college degree. She started in the Howard Community College’s noncredit English Institute to improve her English skills and prepare for credit-bearing classes. She graduated with her associate degree and plans to transfer to a four-year university to become a registered clinical dietician.

“[At HCC], I learned that research is way more than a hypothesis, test, and results. It’s real life skills. It’s patience, commitment, growth, and beyond all, it’s helping others,” said Alabdulrazzak. “Scientific research is what is pulling us out of this global pandemic. We are the people who lived every single detail of this situation, and we are the next generation of scholars who will be able to eliminate outbreaks and face them with knowledge.”

Dr. Walter Bumpus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivered the commencement address. Dr. Bumphus holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin and the distinction of being one of few education leaders to receive the Association of Community College Trustees’ Marie Y. Martin CEO of the Year Award, chair the AACC Board of Directors, and receive the AACC Leadership Award.

“Community colleges are the on-ramp to the middle class. Our goal is to provide each of our students with the skills necessary to earn family-sustaining wages,” said Dr. Bumphus. “With completion of your academic credential, you have made a very big leap towards this goal. Howard Community College has prepared you to enter the job market with a grasp on technology and how it is now impacting our changing economic landscape.”

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Howard County Council Chair Liz Walsh participated in the ceremony and provided celebratory greetings.

“As we continue to navigate through this unique and challenging time, as a nation and as a community, today, we celebrate you and your family,” said County Executive Ball. “We wish our Dragons all the best as you embark on your next chapter. We are so very proud of you and full of hope in all that you will do to make our world a better place for all.”

“Through it all—a global pandemic, political turmoil, racial and social injustice—you persevered. You remained resolute in your determination to make it here today and to become graduates of Howard Community College,” said Howard County Council Chair Liz Walsh. “What you’ve endured to get here today, unprecedented. What successes we are certain you are going to bring into this work, unprecedented. You, class of 2021, are unprecedented.”

During the ceremony, the Howard Community College Board of Trustees recognized Dr. Lillian Bauder and Mr. George Doetsch with honorary associate of arts degrees. Dr. Bauder formerly served as vice president of Masco Corporation, where she led global, corporate strategic initiatives, represented the corporation in civic and charitable activities and was chairman and president of the Masco Corporation Foundation before retiring in 2007. Mr. Doetsch, Jr. is currently the chairman of Apple Ford Lincoln and sits on the boards of the Community Foundation of Howard County, the Community Action Council for Howard County, and the Howard County Police Foundation, which he helped establish.

Two Howard Community College students, Abigail Pauline Tack and Oluwasemilore Oluwagbenro, also received recognition as recipients of the Awards for Academic Excellence. The HCC Educational Foundation provides this $1,000 award to students who have excelled in their coursework for use as they continue their education.

During the ceremony, graduating students were honored with a visual image featuring their name and degree or certificate. Graduates also customized the slides to features photos, messages, and quotes. The ceremony conclude with video well-wishes from Howard Community College faculty and staff.

To view the 2021 virtual commencement, visit
Topics: Success Stories
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