Pierpont Graduates Celebrate with Winter Ceremony

Pierpont Graduates Celebrate with Winter Ceremony

Pierpont Graduates Celebrate with Winter Ceremony
 
FAIRMONT – Kevin O’Connor was only in his cap and gown for a few brief minutes Thursday when he graduated from college. But that was all he needed to capture the memory because although he wouldn’t be involved in the traditional graduation ceremony, the Pierpont Community and Technical College student still had the chance to be recognized.
 
“I feel fabulous,” O’Connor said, after receiving his degree in applied process technology. “This is a big blessing, a lot of people don’t get this opportunity, so I’m really thankful just to have this opportunity.”
 
Pierpont held a winter graduation reception Thursday evening, where students who completed their coursework over the summer or fall semesters could not only hear speeches from their professors and school leaders but also get photographed in full graduation garb with a diploma and the school president to recreate the experience on a smaller, more casual scale.
 
“We have one spring commencement, they don’t usually have the opportunity,” Michael Waide, provost for PCTC, said of the graduates. “This informal gathering gives them the opportunity to feel acknowledged for the hard work that they’ve done.”
 
Graduates and their families gathered in the Advanced Technology Center for the ceremony. It began with the words of congratulations normally associated with commencements, where the leaders of the school spoke about the accomplishment. The leadership explained that the photo booth with the cap and gown were new additions this year to mimic the look of a regular commencement.
 
“This year, we wanted to put a new twist on this to actually give them an opportunity to capture the moment,” Dr. Johnny M. Moore, president of PCTC, said. “It’s one thing to graduate, but to have evidence of you actually graduating, and capturing that moment is priceless.”
 
After the initial welcome, professors or the dean from the different department lined up in the front of the room to congratulate the individual students graduating in each program. While only about 20 students of the roughly 200 who graduated actually participated in the reception, those who did, like O’Connor, were happy to have the chance to get the graduation experience.
 
“I’m happy my family came out,” he said. “I’m able to say I finally graduated college, so I’m thankful for that – thankful for everything.”
 
Moore spoke of the college itself, and the meaning it has to the students who graduated from it. The school has been recognized nationally and even internationally for some of its programs. Moore accredited these rankings to the work that not only the department heads and professors put in, but the students who push the boundaries as well.
 
“Pierpont is now being recognized as a leader, not just within our state, but as a leader in the entire nation,” he said. “Our culinary arts program is one of the top 20 programs in the entire country.
 
“Our vet tech program is ranked in the top 30 in the entire country. Your school, and two of its programs, top 20, top 30 in the entire country. It happens because we have quality students and we have quality faculty members.”
 
Lyla Grandstaff, vice president of student services at PCTC, also spoke of the accomplishment attained by the students, commenting that she enjoys seeing students who may have started school as kids move on to adult careers.
 
“I live for graduation every year,” Grandstaff said. “It is so gratifying to see people make it across the stage. We’re excited for you; congratulations and good luck.”
 
This evening in the spotlight provided a needed break for the students, who may have just been finishing up final exams throughout the week. It was especially pleasant for the students who would be moving on immediately, some who had jobs lined up before even getting that degree.
 
“I have a job already lined up with FirstEnergy,” O’Connor said. “I start Monday, actually, so once I’m done here I go straight to work.”
 
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