Graduating the Next Leaders
Be happy: Articulate your life’s purpose in one sentence
Clark College graduated its largest class ever on June 20 during its 77th commencement with nearly 1,900 degrees and certificates conferred during the 2012-13 academic year.
Professor Caroline Heldman ’91, chair of the politics department at Occidental College in Los Angeles and a Clark College alumna, gave the keynote address. She encouraged the graduates to drill down their purpose in life to one sentence. As a result, they will likely be happier than those who don’t establish goals. She emphasized the importance of determining one’s purpose early, instead of checking off societal milestones such as having children and buying houses. Heldman also said graduates should seek love in their lives and meaningful work that doesn’t compromise their personal beliefs.
More than 620 graduates were present to receive their diplomas at the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield. In attendance were graduates of the college’s largest graduating class from its Weekend Degree program, which allows students to earn a degree while balancing work/life challenges by attending classes online and on weekends. Moreover, the first graduates from Clark’s new high-tech Mechatronics program were present, as well as 215 high school students graduating from the Running Start program—Clark’s largest-ever class of Running Start graduates. Running Start allows qualifying Washington high school students to take college classes and earn high school and college credits.
New this year was a student speaker chosen through an essay contest open to all graduating students. In past years, this role was reserved for either a member of Associated Students of Clark College or the All-Washington Academic Team.
The winning speaker, Danny Wachsnicht, told his fellow graduates, “We are greater than our fears and greater than our doubts.”
Clark graduates have historically become an important part of the leadership of Southwest Washington, a theme that was touched on repeatedly during the ceremony. Clark College Board of Trustees Chair Jada Rupley (whose daughter was among the graduates) said, “Unlike the typical college town, where students often leave just days after graduation, we want you to stay here and be part of our future.”
Following Heldman’s speech, President Robert K. Knight said, “Tonight you make the transition from being Clark College students to being Clark College graduates, part of a long legacy of learning within this community. … Be proud of this community you have joined. You are Clark College graduates, and I am proud of each and every one of you!”
Knight also presented a variety of awards including the Exceptional Faculty awards and Exceptional Classified Staff accolade. Romona Vercher received full tuition to attend Washington State University Vancouver as the Community College President award recipient for 2013-14.