More than 300 students participate in UCC commencement and graduation ceremony

June 17, 2017 GMT

WINCHESTER — Inspired by speakers sharing uplifting messages about perseverance, overcoming fear, failure and ambition, nearly 340 Umpqua Community College students participated in commencement and graduation ceremonies under cloudy skies Friday night at the Swanson Amphitheatre.

“I am confident that this commencement is the new beginning of a grand adventure for all of you because of how you have redefined yourself at Umpqua Community College,” UCC President Debra Thatcher said in her opening speech. “It is clear that you are poised to successfully meet challenges to do great things and to make the world a better place.”

The college expected to award 167 associate of arts Oregon transfer (AAOT) degrees, 11 associate of science degrees, 19 associate of general studies degrees, 143 associate of applied science degrees and 62 certificates.

For students Daniel Cowan, 19, and Mikayla Cramer, 18, graduation won’t mean the end to their education. Cowan of Riddle will transfer to Southern Oregon University to become a juvenile probation officer. Cramer, also of Riddle, plans to study education at the University of Oregon where she hopes to eventually get her master’s degree in school counseling.

One more thing. Both Cowan and Cramer are engaged to be married.

Cowan, who received an AAOT degree, called his graduation from UCC a milestone.

“Graduation means I’m ready to achieve the next goal,” Cowan said. “My outlook on the future is more college, more schooling, then a good job to hopefully help people out in the future to help them achieve anything that comes upon them.”

Education was important to Cramer because “I want to be a better person to help out in the community,” she said. “I’m looking forward to earning my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree and working with students to help them find what they want to be when they grow up.”

Oregon Community Foundation President and CEO Max Williams offered three pieces of advice during his keynote address.

“My hope is that these three things — being a life long learner, disconnecting yourself to allow reflection, and staying focused on relationships — will give you some things to consider as you take your next steps and ultimately persevere,” Willliams said. “You need to be the CEO of your life because no one else will do it for you.”

Graduate Ali Lape, who served as the Associated Students of UCC president, summed up the graduation in her speech’s closing words, “Take those risks, use your voice for yourself and for those who do not have one yet. Be proud of yourselves and ask yourselves ‘what do I really want’ and make that happen at any cost. We have one life, make it count.”