Fairfield, ME – Four hundred and sixty students graduated today when Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) held its 42nd Commencement Exercises at the Augusta Civic Center.
The graduation was well attended by friends and family of graduates, with students from 24 programs marching before a capacity crowd.
Speaking to the assembly, KVCC Student of the Year Kristie Harris shared the story of her own challenges as she pursued a degree in Nursing at KVCC, as well as some of the stories of her fellow students.
“For many of us the gap is very wide between what was imagined at the beginning and what has been achieved at the end,” Harris said. “We came with a dream and maybe we weren’t sure we would achieve it, but we took that first step and now here we are.”
In her own case, a family medical emergency and an employment crisis led her to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse in spite of the obstacles she faced. Many of KVCC’s students can tell similar stories, Harris said.
“I recently sat with a group of my fellow graduates and it occurred to me that not one had gotten to this point easily,” Harris said. “We all have a story. We all had bumps in the road. The common thread is perseverance. If you want it bad enough you can do it. We did it!”
Bill L. Alfond, Founder & President of the William and Joan Alfond Foundation, was the keynote speaker for the event.
Mr. Alfond, who worked for 31 years as an executive at Dexter Shoe Company, where he was president of the bowling shoe division, currently serves as a director of Dexter Enterprises, Inc., a director of Olly Shoe in Canada/USA, and is a limited partner in the Boston Red Sox.
A long-time supporter and friend of KVCC, Mr. Alfond is a son of the late Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe Company and a philanthropist well-known for his generosity to the Maine communities in which he and his family worked and resided.
Mr Alfond offered his congratulations to the Class of 2012, lauding them for their hard work and the opportunities they have created for themselves.
“Whatever your pathway, here you are, graduating, ready to take your new skills and your enthusiasm into the workforce, or on the road to a 4-year degree,” Alfond said. “Enjoy the sense of accomplishment you are feeling today. You earned it.”
Alfond also credited those who lent their support to the graduates for helping them achieve their goals.
“To families and friends of the graduates, congratulations to you for supporting these fine students,” Alfond said. “Your support – financial and moral – helped them get here. So I hope you are proud too. Their success belongs to you as well.”
KVCC President Barbara Woodlee congratulated the graduates and wished them well in their future endeavors, praising them for their hard work and dedication to their communities as well as their educations.
“As a class you demonstrated commitment and perseverance in pursuing your goals, and you did this while contributing an extraordinary number of hours to community service to a wide range of organizations and causes,” Woodlee said. “We take great pride in all your accomplishment and wish you health, happiness, and much success as you graduate today.”
Awards given during the 42Commencement Exercises included the following:
▪ The Aaron Levine Outstanding Student Award – Melissa Berry and Deborah Huff.
▪ The Fred Whitney Award – Laurie Columbia and Jessica Gleason.
▪ The Bernard A. King Award – Jacqueline R. Huey.
▪ The Distinguished Alumni Award – Jon Morrison.
Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven community colleges in Maine. KVCC prepares full-time and part-time students to enter the job market, to transfer to colleges and universities, and to achieve their professional and personal goals. Programs and services support the economic growth of the community in response to changing needs.
In 2011 and again in 2012, KVCC was named one of the top community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, placing in the top 10 percent of two-year colleges based on student success rates.