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posted: 5/30/2013 5:02 AM

Celebrating the milestone of college graduation

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As a younger person, the milestones come quickly. Your birth, your first steps and words, your first day of school and getting your first car all have significant meaning. As you grow older, your first job, getting married, the birth of your children, and your children's own milestones become lasting memories.

However, no matter how old you are, completing your college degree and receiving your diploma is one milestone that you will never forget.

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A graduation ceremony is designed to make a lasting impression. Graduates wear academic gowns, and professors wear varied regalia representing their own academic achievement. Family and friends gather to share this important day. Bands play formal marches dating back to decades past as graduates form a processional to receive their degrees. Hours upon hours, weeks upon weeks, months upon months, and, occasionally, years upon years of hard work, go into a student earning a degree. The ceremony is rightfully full of pomp and circumstance.

Attending a community college graduation is an incredible event. If you're ever invited to attend a graduation ceremony, I highly recommend you accept the offer. Community colleges serve students from all backgrounds with all types of aspirations. At Waubonsee Community College, there are nursing graduates ready to enter the workforce next to English majors transferring on to earn bachelor's degrees. There are 19- and 20-year-olds walking across the stage along with graduates who are moms and dads with children of the same age. The common thread is the commitment shared by all these graduates to earn the opportunity for a better future -- for themselves and their families. Community colleges reflect the diversity and vitality of our community, and there's no better time to witness this than on graduation night.

At this year's ceremony, Waubonsee's commencement speaker was Dr. Harry Berman, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Berman has a strong background in higher education and is an expert on the psychology of aging. Having authored "Interpreting the Aging Self: Personal Journals of Later Life," Berman knows a thing or two about milestones in a person's life.

I vividly remember my graduation ceremonies. Now, I vicariously experience that thrill and pride of accomplishment through the eyes of every Waubonsee graduate. I can see on their faces an understanding that they have accomplished something meaningful, something lasting, something life-altering.

Waubonsee's commencement took place May 23 this year. It was the highlight of 2013 for the college and a milestone for each and every one of Waubonsee's graduates. As a community college, this is a day for all to celebrate.

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