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Washington State Community College celebrates graduates

More than 300 Washington State Community College students march in to receive their diplomas or certificates Saturday at Marietta College’s Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

MARIETTA — Excited chatter buzzed in the air Saturday as more than 300 Washington State Community College students lined up and prepared to receive their hard-earned degrees and certifications after a tumultuous past year.

Families and friends beamed with pride in the audience and stood to be recognized during the ceremony at Marietta College’s Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center for the support they gave their graduates.

“We did have a modified ceremony last year where students could invite their families in and we honored them one at a time, so we are really excited to have this large ceremony today,” said Washington State Community College President Vicky Wood. “In terms of these students, they have had the most challenging time, so many extra barriers to overcome during the pandemic, and I acknowledge my exceptional faculty and staff for all they did to pivot to remote learning.”

This year marked several milestones for the institution: It is the 50th anniversary of Washington State Community College and the year with the largest number of College Credit Plus graduates, students that were able to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school.

Harmony Izaguirre is a new graduate of Washington State Community College’s medical lab technology program. She embodies the wide range of accessibility the college has for students of all ages and walks of life.

Washington State Community College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

“I am gonna be 44 on Tuesday, and I have a 3- and a 5-year-old, and I am taking the boards on Tuesday, which is terrifying,” Izaguirre said and chuckled. “It’s a little bit surreal … we’ve been working so hard … I am really nervous and really excited and relieved. It’s like a whole mix of emotions.”

Izaguirre and her family will be moving to Savannah, Georgia, where she has accepted a position at a hospital starting in June.

Izaguirre emphasized the family-like nature she had with many of her fellow students, a theme that was echoed at the ceremony as faculty members came up to hand degrees to their children who had chosen to attend Washington State.

“It’s been such an amazing experience, and I am so glad I came here,” Izaguirre said.

The commencement speaker was Watertown Enterprises CEO Damian Lang, a southeast Ohio native and the owner and founder of one of the most successful masonry businesses in the United States. He encouraged graduates to always create roadmaps for the future they want and to always follow through and not let potential roadblocks deter them from their passions.

Washington State Community College President Vicky Wood stands ready to lead the processional at Saturday’s graduation inside the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center at Marietta College. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

“I never gave up on my dreams, nor should you ever give up on yours,” Lang said. “Each and every one of you are the captain of your own ship.”

The student commencement speaker was Alysa Snyder, who graduated summa cum laude this year with an associate’s degree in general science and is also a senior at Frontier High School.

“One of my biggest takeaways from my time here was to never settle,” she said. “Taking courses at Washington State was one of the best decisions I ever made throughout high school for the simple reason it pushed me to work harder and strive for more. I feel it is important in life to push ourselves and never settle … and as each of us graduates, it is my hope that each of us never stop pushing our boundaries and challenging ourselves.”

Approximately 80 students were awarded honors distinctions for their studies.

“You give us hope for the future,” Wood said to the graduates. “I encourage you to use the lessons you learned during this pandemic and your time at Washington State throughout the rest of your lives … as a college graduate you now have the opportunity to inspire others.”

Pending graduates sit in anticipation during Saturday’s Washington State Community College commencement ceremony at the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center at Marietta College. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

Jenna Pierson can be reached at jpierson@newsandsentinel.com.

Washington State Community College graduate Harmony Izaguirre is a non-traditional student who said she loved the family-like atmosphere of her program. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

Students in associate degree and certification programs walk across the stage at Saturday’s Washington State Community College commencement ceremony at the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center at Marietta College. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

Washington State Community College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

Students in associate degree and certification programs walk across the stage at Saturday’s Washington State Community College commencement ceremony at the Dyson-Baudo Recreation Center at Marietta College. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

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