Almost 280 students left the bosom of Carroll Community College Wednesday to step out into the next chapter in their lives.
The students — 170 of which were in attendance ranging in age from 18 to 64 — graduated at the school’s 25th commencement ceremony.
“Graduates, I am tremendously proud of each of you,” Carroll Community College President James Ball said as the ceremony began.
Ball told the graduates they have worked with “steadfast dedication” attaining their degrees and certificates.
“I believe that the motivating factor that has guided you is the vision of creating a brilliant vision of your future,” he said. “With perseverance, despite challenges, you have reached a significant milestone in attaining your degree or certificate. May memories of your attendance here today fuel and inspire your future achievements.”
Ball said a recent survey of the graduating class found nearly 70 percent will study at transfer institutions, 58 percent plan to work full-time and of those working full-time, 60 percent plan to stay in Carroll.
No matter where they go after Carroll, Ball said they are “exceptionally well-prepared.”
The Honorable Francis X. Kelly was this year’s commencement speaker. Kelly is a former state senator and co-founder and chairman of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group. He was elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 1979 to represent parts of Carroll and Baltimore counties.
In his speech, Kelly spoke about how community college changed his life.
“Community colleges offer the best buy in higher education that I know. And you folks that are graduating today already know that,” he said.
Kelly said he can’t think of anything else in education that contributes more to the state and country. After quitting his job and trying to find a new path in life, Kelly attended two different community colleges — one to attain his real estate license and one to attain his insurance license.
He also provided four principles he’s learned over the years that have helped him in life: building a positive attitude, integrity, reliability and giving back.
“Get involved in the community, get involved in an elected office and give back,” he told graduates.
Wednesday’s ceremony included recognition of awards as well.
Noah Simmons, 20, of Westminster, received the President’s Academic Excellence Award. Simmons obtained an associate of arts and sciences degree with a general engineering pathway, according to a news release from the college. The award is the president’s highest award to graduates, according to the release. The scholarship of $600 is given to a student in recognition of “outstanding academic and co-curricular performance,” according to the release.
A new award this year, the President’s Academic Achievement Award, went to Joshua Mayes, which is a $200 scholarship. Mayes graduated with an associate of applied science degree in computer programming.
Other recognitions included the All Maryland Academic team, which went to Ella Darcy Breden and Juliana Elise Howard; the Curator’s Award, which went to Jordyn Paige Burleson; and the SGO Leadership Transfer Scholarship, which went to Ella Darcy Breden.