Posted:May 15, 2018
On May 11, Century College held its 2018 commencement ceremony at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood to honor 1,811 graduating students. The ceremony, attended by approximately 500 students, had special significance, as the 2018 graduating class represented the 50th in Century College’s history.
During the two-hour commencement ceremony, the audience of graduates, their families, faculty, staff, and special guests enjoyed an inspiring evening that served as a wonderful tribute to the hard work and dedication of the class of 2018, many of whom overcame great obstacles to take the stage as graduates of Century College.
President Angelia Millender conferred the graduating students with Associate Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Sciences Degrees, Diplomas, or Certificates.
The Ceremony Begins
As the Century College concert band played music from Harry Potter, a processional of Academic Deans, Administration, faculty, and staff entered, followed by the platform party consisting of Millender, President of the Faculty Senate Rick Nelson, the President’s Executive Cabinet, Minnesota State Board of Trustees Member Basil Ajuo, and Student and Alumnae Speakers.
When faculty, staff, and distinguished guests were seated, the 2018 graduating class joined the ceremony to a huge round of applause. Millender welcomed the graduates with a rousing speech.
“The mission of Century College is to inspire, prepare, and empower students to succeed in a changing world,” said Millender. “You see before you tonight the fulfillment of that mission.”
Millender also acknowledged the challenges that the graduates faced, offering a brief glimpse into the diverse lives Century College students lead.
“These graduates have accomplished great things,” said Millender. “They have done so while working, raising families, supporting friends and family in their own endeavors, and while serving our country.”
Millender concluded her speech by thanking the faculty and staff for their tireless commitment to student success.
The Speakers Take the Stage
Michael Berndt, Vice President of Academic Affairs, introduced the academic deans and honored the five retiring staff members. He then turned the microphone over to Basil Ajuo for a special greeting on behalf of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees and over 16,000 faculty that represent Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
“All of us who are here have come together because we believe in the power of public higher education to change lives,” said Ajuo. “And, graduates of the Class of 2018, we have come together because we believe in you.”
Following Ajuo’s speech, Century College Alumni Association Co-chair Corey Culver, who graduated from Century College in 2015, encouraged students to join the Alumni Association and give back to the Century College community.
Culver then introduced the Outstanding Alum of the Year, Debbie Johnson-Hill. Returning to college at age 50, Johnson-Hill discovered her voice at Century College and began writing poetry. She has since been published in national poetry journals and a number of magazines.
“Now you’re leaving college and embarking on the greatest adventure – and biggest challenge – of your lives: moving forward with what’s next,” Johnson-Hill said to the graduates.
The series of speakers concluded with the commencement address, delivered by the President of the Student Senate, Ruth Mejia, who after obtaining an Associate of Arts degree this year, is transferring to Augsburg to pursue a major in Music Therapy.
Mejia, a prolific leader on campus and steadfast advocate for her fellow students, offered her graduating class five nuggets of wisdom.
“Wake up and smile,” said Mejia, “Don’t get up and allow negativity to overpower your small victories.”
The Graduates Take the Stage
After the commencement address, it was time to recognize the outstanding graduates of the 2018 class. First to be announced were students who graduated with distinction (GPA between 3.5 and 3.74) and those who graduated with high distinction (GPA between 3.75 and 4.0).
Members of four vital groups at Century College were also recognized – Phi Theta Kappa, graduates who completed 41 hours or more of community service, outstanding students selected by the faculty, and international students.
“Thank you to these four groups for enriching our campus life by reminding us of the value of academic excellence, commitment to community, and international understanding,” said Berndt.
Next came the most anticipated moment of the evening: the presentation of the graduates. As the names were read, Berndt and Joyce Coleman, Vice President of Student Affairs, shook hands with the graduates and presented them with their diplomas.
Then, Berndt invited the class of 2018 to stand, as Millender, to the biggest applause of the night, officially conferred the graduates with their hard-earned degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
Millender wrapped up the ceremony with a stirring speech that encouraged students to continue to push forward, expressing her confidence that no matter where the next phase of their lives takes them, they would be prepared to succeed.
“As graduates of Century College, you carry with you the knowledge and skills needed to create change and to build stronger communities where all people are valued and can thrive,” said Millender. “With your strength, determination, commitment, and passion, all things are possible.”