Fayetteville Technical Community College celebrated its 60th annual commencement exercises on May 13 at the Crown Coliseum.
Due to the large number of graduates, FTCC held two ceremonies, recognizing 1,897 graduates receiving 3,650 certificates, diplomas or associate degrees from 257 curriculum programs.
Among those, 598 students graduated with honors and 189 with highest honors. Seventy-nine students graduated from the college’s Adult High School program and 77 from the High School Equivalency program.
FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen, presiding over his final commencement before retiring at the end of the year, praised the graduates on their dedication and encouraged them to continue learning.
“All of today’s graduates have earned distinction through their hard work and commitment to reaching their goals,” Keen said. “It takes all of us. You’ve got to learn more, and we’ve got to learn more. Let’s do it together, and we can all move forward.”
Two students — Jenna Warnock and Kristen Woods — were awarded individual recognition for academic achievement and community involvement.
Woods received the N.C. Community College System Academic Excellent Award, while Warnock was presented with the Fayetteville Technical Community College President’s Award.
Mike Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health, gave the keynote address during the morning commencement, addressing graduates from five programs – Public Service, Engineering and Applied Technology, Allied Health Technologies, Nursing and Continuing Education.
Dr. Y. Sammy Choi, director of the Department of Research at Womack Army Medical Center, delivered the keynote at the afternoon ceremony. He addressed graduates in the Arts and Humanities, Business, Math and Sciences, and Computer Information Technology programs.
Nagowski commented on the students’ perseverance while in pursuit of their education during a pandemic, pointing out the tools they’ve gained will serve them through any future endeavors.
“Despite what was happening in the world, you adapted and overcame,” Nagowski said. “As with all situations, you get out of it what you put into it. It’s difficult when you’re going through it to know how it ends. When you come out on the other side, the experiences make you who you are and you’re stronger for it. I truly believe you are better prepared for the future.”
Choi recognized the numerous community partnerships found at FTCC, including wellness projects with Cumberland County schools and military paramedic training he called “the envy of Army bases across the country.”
“Through these and other collaborations, I have learned firsthand of the incredible advantages of community colleges,” he said. “FTCC in particular has provided huge dividends for the region and state. So my congratulations to the FTCC faculty, staff and graduates for wisely choosing FTCC and making our community better.”
Choi ended his message with a call for compassion.
“Forgive. Be kind. Be nice,” he said. “If we all do that, I promise, the world will change.”