Cleveland Community College held its annual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 13 in the Dr. James Petty Amphitheater with President Jason Hurst presiding.
During the ceremony more than 250 graduates walked across the stage to applause and shouts of praise from family, friends and CCC faculty and staff. On stage, graduates Kweli Huskey-Littlejohn performed the national anthem, and Student Government Association President Lesly Ayala spoke to her fellow graduates about the huge accomplishment they were all celebrating. “We did this during a pandemic!” she declared.
Board of Trustees Chair, Rev. Dr. Lamont Littlejohn, Jr. also spoke to graduates, congratulating them on their perseverance and commitment to make it to this night. “You were built for this,” he said, emphasizing that by reaching this milestone these graduates have proven to themselves what they are capable of accomplishing. He encouraged them to continue working toward their goals and believing in themselves.
The commencement ceremony featured several recognitions and celebrations of accomplishment. Dr. Hurst presented a plaque and medallion to Nichole Cole, the 2021 Academic Excellence Award winner. At 21 years old, Cole decided to drop out of college and focus on her husband and two children. Years later, after her children grew up, she decided to return to school and pursue an interest in radiology she discovered while working as a chiropractic assistant. Her dream was realized Thursday when she graduated with her Associate of Applied Science in Radiography.
The night also featured the recognition of CCC’s Jean Harry Francis Employee Awards program winners. Dr. Hurst presented awards to Lori Waris, Excellence in Teaching; Greg Tillman, Outstanding Staff of the Year; Heather Kubu, Excellence in Teaching Adjunct Faculty; and Stephanie Nuhrah, Outstanding Part-Time Staff of the Year. The award was recently named in recognition for long-time employee Jean Harry Francis, who passed away in July 2020.
Finally, Rev. Dr. Littlejohn recognized Dr. Hurst with a plaque to commemorate being named the 2021 North Carolina Community College System President of the Year.