Clover Park Technical College celebrates its 20th Annual Commencement Ceremony Saturday, June 18, at the Tacoma Dome. (Photo By: Danielle Jimenez)

CPTC recognizes more than 400 graduates at 20th Commencement Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Hundreds of events are held at the Tacoma Dome every year, but only a few change people’s lives forever.

Clover Park Technical College’s 20th Annual Commencement Ceremony not only impacted those who walked across the stage, but it will also impact those whose lives might be transformed one day by the 2016 graduates. More than 400 graduates took that life-changing walk Saturday afternoon to earn their CPTC degrees.

“It’s a way to give back to help others — I’m here, and so glad I stuck with it,” said Temeka Long, a CPTC Human Services program graduate who plans to continue college to become a social worker at Child Protective Services.

The ceremony consisted of a procession of students in each program, the National Anthem, three speeches and the reading of each student’s name as they walked across the stage. Joyce Loveday, CPTC’s interim president, shared her excitement for students like Long in the first speech of the afternoon.

“This is something that can never be taken away from you for the rest of your life,” Loveday said. “We’re very proud of you, and glad for this opportunity to celebrate with you today.”

Loveday also cited some statistics and facts illustrating the diversity and success of CPTC students. CPTC programs boasted a total of 1,123 graduates in 2016, including the first eight graduates from the Bachelor of Applied Science in Manufacturing Operations program.

“You are the 20th graduating class, bringing the total number of CPTC graduates since 1993 to 26,000,” Loveday said. “Our students come from countries spanning the globe: including South Korea, the People’s Republic of China, Kenya, Cambodia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Loveday also specified that 16 percent of graduates were single parents and the majority worked full- or part-time jobs while in school. Fifty students maintained a 4.0 GPA and 89 were accepted into Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Loveday then personalized her speech by telling the stories of a few graduating students.

“Marching with you today are graduates that have had a challenging journey,” Loveday said.

One student who received his high school diploma at the ceremony left his family in Somalia at the age of 11. He experienced homelessness, refugee camps and political imprisonment before successfully immigrating to the United States.

“Abdul has demonstrated that incredible determination, and a positive spirit has enabled him to learn new skills and new languages,” Loveday said. “Abdul expressed that through his interaction with faculty at CPTC, he’s learned to love education.”

Students such as Abdul provide a testament to how amazing CPTC students are, even in the face of adversity. His story is not unlike others among those graduating, Loveday said.

She also honored faculty and staff.

“It truly does take a community to get you through any process in life,” Loveday said as faculty stood to be recognized.

The second speaker of the night, student Myra Morales, added her great appreciation for CPTC staff and faculty.

“Clover Park has provided the support for our mental, physical and academic needs,” said Morales, who was also the CPTC Associated Student Government President. “Administrators always provided a venue to listen to our stories because they wanted us to succeed — Clover Park cares about you and your families.”

In addition to her on-campus involvement, Myra is known for her volunteer work with the homeless in her community — she embodied the words in her speech.

“As I look at all the graduates before me, I see all the sleepless nights, stress, fear, procrastination and endless studying,” Morales said. “This chapter of life was challenging and did not make for light reading. Today is proof all that hard work has paid off. Our chapter as Clover Park Technical College students has closed and our new chapters are beginning.”

Speaking last was keynote speaker Dr. Gene Sharratt, executive director for the Washington Student Achievement Council.

“Today is your day, but tomorrow is your future,” Sharratt said. “Don’t stop until you get to the top. That’s what life has to offer you, and that’s what you have to offer life. Give it all you got; be in it to win it every single day of your life.”

After congratulating the graduates with some words from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” Sharratt concluded with some advice.

“Let your dream become your theme; let your vision become your reason for all the good that you can do,” Sharratt said. “So much life to explore … now it’s time for you to act on your knowledge and your skills … to go forward into life to find the success each of you is worthy of.”

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