WILKESBORO — Wilkes Community College’s Division of College & Career Readiness awarded diplomas at its 40th annual graduation ceremony on Aug. 19 at the John A. Walker Community Center. Of the 122 graduates, 114 earned a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma and eight received an Adult High School (AHS) diploma. Ten of the HSE graduates were at the Department of Corrections. Five students were awarded certificates for completing the Career Track program.
Brenda West, a former instructor with the Division of College & Career Readiness, started the formal ceremony with the prelude, followed by the processional “Pomp and Circumstance” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was sung by Tammy Griffin-Garcia, English Language Acquisition coordinator in the Division of College & Career Readiness and instructor of music in the Arts & Science Division. Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president, welcomed everyone to the special occasion.
Debbie Woodard, dean of the College & Career Readiness Division, introduced the guest speakers. They included Joshua Ryan Knapp, Ashe HSE graduate; Eva Jacqulyn Swibold, Ashe HSE graduate; Carlos A. Escobar, Wilkes HSE graduate; Nikki B. Faw, Wilkes HSE graduate; and Keith Deveraux, Director of High County Workforce Development Board. Each of the student speakers shared success stories and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to further their education through the College & Career Readiness program.
Joshua Knapp, Ashe HSE graduate, stated, “This is a milestone that many pass in their life, and one that, at least in America, is almost viewed as a necessity. And yet for me, this will likely remain one of the single most important moments of my life; one of the defining turning points in my personal story.”
Elva Swibold, Ashe HSE graduate, went through a period in her life when she could not walk. She stated, “Basic Skills was a truly unique class with a unique atmosphere. Every one of us came from a different background, with a different story. We have all worked very hard to get to this point in our life, and I am honored to be walking today beside my friends and classmates.”
Carlos Escobar, Wilkes HSE graduate, shared his story of migrating to America from Honduras and the struggles he had to overcome. “To me, it was worth it to die in the attempt of migrating to the United States illegally, than to die in my own country without doing anything and without hope.” Not only did Carlos complete his high school credentials, he will become a United States citizen this month.
Nikki Faw, Wilkes HSE graduate, stated, “I think that students often take their school experiences for granted, as just the step between high school and the real world. As the first member of my immediate family to graduate and attend college, I don’t take it for granted at all.” Nikki is currently enrolled in Wilkes Community College pursuing her associate degree in health sciences, with the goal of becoming a registered nurse.
Woodard said of guest speaker Keith Deveraux, director of the High-Country Workforce Board, “I know firsthand that he is committed to helping our students and citizens in Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties.” In Mr. Deveraux’s motivational speech, he read the poem, “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. The poem emphasizes that life is not easy and is filled with challenges; however, one must never give up. He stated commencement is indeed a beginning and graduates have opportunities they never had before. Deveraux encouraged graduates to take their opportunities, continue their education, enter the workforce and better their communities.
The following graduates participated in the ceremony:
Wilkes County High School Equivalency diploma – Sammantha Dawn Auton, North Wilkesboro; Ashley Hope Bourne, North Wilkesboro; Meleah Brooke Call, Elkin; Cody W. Carlton, North Wilkesboro; Dillon Carlton, North Wilkesboro; Christine Louise Chatham, Wilkesboro; Sarah Lynn Church, Millers Creek; Nina Ann Clinard, Hays; Regina Nicole Dancy, Purlear; Brandi Noel Davalos, North Wilkesboro; Kimberly Michelle Denny, Purlear; Carlos A. Escobar, North Wilkesboro; Nikki B. Faw, North Wilkesboro; Elizabeth Dawn Felts, Millers Creek; Alura Franklin Hill, North Wilkesboro; Dylan Thomas Hurt, Millers Creek; Chassidy Sage Key, North Wilkesboro; Michael Levonne Mayfield, Boomer; Jessica Nicole Pegram, North Wilkesboro; Matthew Brian Richardson Hays; Salena Marie Royal, North Wilkesboro; Katie Sierra Thompson, North Wilkesboro; Amber Michelle Walker, North Wilkesboro; Amber E. Wyatt, North Wilkesboro; and Esly Raquel Zamora, North Wilkesboro.
Wilkes County Adult High School diploma – William Dean Brock, McGrady; Katelind Cherie McCann, Wilkesboro; Gavin Blake Robbins. Purlear; and Nathan Cole Walsh, Wilkesboro.
Career Track program – Ethan Cassity, North Wilkesboro; David Gibson, Wilkesboro; Anthony Wayne Gregory Jr., North Wilkesboro; Ashley Nicole Parlier, Millers Creek; and Benjamin Prevette, North Wilkesboro.
Chris Robinson, vice president of Workforce Development & Community Education; Debbie Woodard, dean of College & Career Readiness; Phyllis Yates, superintendent of Ashe County Schools; and Dr. Mark Byrd, superintendent of Wilkes County Schools, presented the graduates with their diplomas and certificates. Afterwards, Dr. Jeff A. Cox, WCC president, conferred the diplomas.
Following the commencement recessional, a reception was held to honor the graduates and their guests.
The College & Career Readiness Division serves Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties through several locations in each county. Classes are free, and instruction is self-paced and structured to fit the needs of students at their current functioning level. Students range in age from 16 and up.
For more information about College & Career Readiness, contact Faye Handy at 336-903-3232 or Amanda Handy at 336-903-3230.
Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties and beyond. Established in 1965, WCC continues to build on a strong history of meeting the educational needs and cultural interests of our students, community and workforce. WCC prepares learners for success in a dynamic world.