The world better be ready for an additional 863 men and women who have the dreams, hopes, and now the tools, to make it a better place.
Saturday morning in a packed JCC gymnasium, professors, friends and family alike endured the heat and cramped quarters to pay honor to the newest graduating class of Jamestown Community College.
More than 250 of the 863 students in the class of 2012 were present for the commencement ceremonies, and every single one of them was teeming with foretaste and anticipation for the moment their diplomas were to be placed into their hands by JCC Board of Trustees Chairperson Lance Spicer. However, the collegians waited until keynote speaker Dr. Darren M. Williams finished his speech before they took their moments in the spotlight.
Jamestown Community College held graduation Saturday, May 19, 2012
"It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting somewhere out there impatiently waiting for the speaker to get to the point and finish his or her remarks so that I could get my diploma, snap a few pictures and go get some lunch," said Williams."
Williams was a graduate of JCC's class of 1990 and associate professor of physics and astronomy at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. He has authored or coauthored several research papers on the origin and evolution of habitable planets. His research has been featured in Nature, National Geographic, Astronomy, Sky and Telescope Astrobiology, and Discover magazines.
"Normally we reserve the word 'hero' for someone who rescues another from death, but serving and helping those around us in meaningful ways that motivate or inspire or transform can also save lives," said Williams. "The lesson for the graduates today is that heroism is not out of reach. But we must be doers rather than just spectators constantly distracted by our televisions, computers and iPhones. With your degree today comes a societal expectation and responsibility for you to build, design, and create; to write, to paint, and to make music; to fix and to solve; as well as to generate hope and to spread kindness and love wherever you go."
Pictured above, from left, Trenton Stafford, Zackery Miller, Lisa Micciche, Meagan Marsh, Monica Hvizdzak, Claire Certo and Matt Ludwig receive JCC Trustee Awards for having the highest academic achievement in their degree areas.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
Once Williams' speech concluded, the graduates, overflowing with zeal, finally were allowed to make their way to the stage and receive their diplomas.
Handing out the diplomas took nearly 45 minutes. Out of those 45 minutes, not a single second passed where the members of the audience were not clapping for a graduate, whether it be a friend, family member or complete stranger receiving their degree.
After the diplomas were handed out, 10 students were honored with the JCC Trustee Award, which recognizes the students with the highest level of academic achievement in each degree area. Recipients included: associate in arts - Matt Ludwig of Fredonia; associate in science - Claire Certo, Kate Foti, Lisa Micciche, Zackery Miller and Trenton Stafford, all of Jamestown, Monica Hvizdzak of Little Valley, and Meagan Marsh and Cody Oakes of Sinclairville; and associate in applied science - Tammy Ellis of Cattaraugus.
"JCC has genuinely helped me," said Certo. "The professors have inspired me to work harder and go further than I would have been able to normally. It means so much to me to be graduating. I've worked really hard and I enjoyed my time here so much."
Certo is currently a page at the James Prendergast Public Library and plans to continue to work there over the summer and into the winter. She would like to transfer into SUNY Fredonia where she would be able to further her education and receive a four-year degree in elementary education.
After the ceremony, graduates and guests were invited back to the student union where refreshments were served.