Faculty speaker Michael Hughes admitted that he had little advice to give the graduates at Sussex County Community College’s 36th annual commencement ceremony Wednesday, May 17.
“Here’s the part where the faculty tells you about challenges,” said Hughes, a professor in the art history department. “I’m going to lecture the group unfortunately known as the Covid generation about challenges?
“I mean, you were the ones who had to learn senior physics via remote, did your prom in virtual reality and many of you had your high school graduations in your living room.
“Both we and life have prepared you to face whatever may come up. I have no doubt that when it does, you got it.”
Hughes referred to the prehistoric men and women whom the students may have studied in cultural anthropology or art history classes. “These were the people who literally created culture as we know it.”
Using sharp stones, they left their marks on the walls of caves so 30,000 years later, we know who they were and what they accomplished, he pointed out.
“So now, when you leave here, whether you go to a four-year school, whether you go into business, an art studio or a doctor’s office, find your caves and leave your marks.”
‘Proud of you’
The student speaker, Madison Portugal, told the graduates that she dropped out of college in her early 20s to figure herself out and decide where she wanted to go and who she wanted to be.
Since she enrolled at SCCC two years ago, “I have stood beside some of the most intelligent students and faculty with strong, powerful and encouraging voices that have impacted my growth and success in exceptional ways.
“I have studied beside single parents, first-generation college students, students recovering from addictions and physical and mental health obstacles, students who worked full-time to support their family and still showed up to class.”
She recalled “classmates that I now call friends, professors that I call mentors and an atmosphere that I can call home.”
Addressing the graduates, she said, ”Each and every one of you here today has the opportunity to change the world.
”I encourage you all to be kind, to have grace, to use your God-given voice and to help one another in need. Do not be afraid to be different. Never be afraid to ask for help. Always be yourself and remain persistent on fulfilling your goals and your dreams even if they seem impossible to attain.”
A total of 338 students graduated, with 113 receiving associate of science degrees, 111 receiving associate in arts degrees, 68 receiving associate in applied science degrees, seven receiving associate in fine arts degrees, 24 receiving certificates and 15 receiving certificates of achievement.