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269 graduates complete programs at Highland Community College

With 269 Highland Community students completing their degrees and certificates, 172 graduates participated in the 61st annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18.

Warm, summer-like temperatures added to the smiles of the graduates as they posed for pictures before the ceremony, and had a spring in their step as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas from Board Chair Jim Endress and President Chris Kuberski outdoors on the Highland campus, in the courtyard between the Marvin-Burt Liberal Arts Center and Natural Science Center.

Commencement Speaker Marjorie Phillips, 2021 Delbert Scheider Legacy Award Recipient, delivered a speech full of accolades for the graduates, delivering words of wisdom from a woman who has been a great contributor and supporter of Community College Education. Phillips wished the graduates well, telling them the world awaits their greatness.

“Highland has provided you the resources you need to succeed,” Phillips told the graduates. “Never be willing to say I can’t. Always be willing to try. It has been a joy to share this day with you. Highland is a shining light of learning.”

The student Speaker was Marie-Louise de Jong of the Netherlands, who spoke of her experience of making lifelong friendships while attending Highland.

“Highland is filled with diversity, and the connections we made here with students from all over is special,” de Jong said. “The unity at Highland is there for every one of us. Highland is class. We have class and that class has brought us to this day.”

Four graduates who received their degrees on Saturday spoke before the ceremony to share their experience of getting a quality education at Highland, thus shaping their path to future endeavors.

Madilyn Diddens, of Pearl City, plans to study Finance and Accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the fall. Diddens said a community college education allowed her to start college in a more manageable way, gaining the confidence to prepare for a university: “Highland has opened a door for me that I would not think possible had I gone right to a bigger school. I cherish the friends I have made, and I am ready to go forward.”

Allison Coon, of Freeport, served as a Student Trustee on the Highland Board of Trustees, and was active with Student Senate. Both experiences gave her the leadership skills needed to move ahead with a career in Radioactive Therapy. She plans to further her studies in the fall at Bellin College in Green Bay, Wis.: “I acted in the best interest of the students, the college and the system by knowing the issues facing students. Interacting with students, including those in student government and campus organizations, is one of many ways to support the experiences of my peers.”

Kaitlyn Meyerhofer, of Freeport, plans to further her education at Sauk Valley College to study Radiologic Technology. She credits Advisor Beth Groshans with helping her narrow her career goals: “Highland allowed me to explore a path, and with the help of others, I discovered the career I wanted to take. Highland is small, and it helped prepare me to go forward in life. It’s a great school.”

Trace Williamson, of Stockton, plans to take the summer off to work as he explores schools to become an air traffic controller. Williamson said he explored many ideas for his future and it was Advisor Vicki Schulz who set him on a course to find the right fit for his career: “I am proud of my accomplishments at Highland. The resources have helped me improve and look clearly at my future.”

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Photo (L to R) Allison Coon, Trace Williamson, Kaitlyn Meyerhofer, and Madilyn Diddens {Photo Provided By Highland Community College}