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Cabarrus Regional Partnership CEO gives commencement address at RCCC

Almost 700 graduates received associate degrees, diplomas and certificates at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s 45th graduation ceremony Saturday at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center.
Graduates ranged in age from 16 to 69, with 67 percent female and 33 percent male. Fifty-four percent of the graduates live in Rowan County, with 36 percent from Cabarrus County and 10 percent from surrounding counties. More than 60 percent of the graduates are employed, and 232 of them have graduated from RCCC previously in other programs.
During the commencement ceremony, retired RCCC Board of Trustees member and former Rowan County Commissioner George C. Knox received the college’s 2008 Distinguished Service Award. Knox served on the RCCC board from 1994 until his retirement last month. He served as a Rowan County commissioner from 1986 to 1990. He also worked 29 years as a Rowan County public school principal.
“George Knox has been everything a community college could hope for in a trustee, leader and friend,” said RCCC President Richard Brownell during the award presentation. “He has shown an abiding commitment to both the college and the community. He has always recognized and championed RCCC’s mission of serving and meeting the needs of the community.
“In doing so, he has been an effective ambassador of the college, building community support. His devotion has enriched the college, benefiting students and the region for generations to come,” Brownell added.
John Cox, president and CEO for both the Cabarrus Regional Partnership and the 1,100-member Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, served as commencement speaker. Cox encouraged the graduates to “get a life and make a difference.”
Cox used the word “life” to spell out his message: L stands for being a learner and leader, I means to be innovative and inspiring, F stands for having a focus and fixing problems, and E means the graduates should engage community service and strive for excellence.
“As a student you’ve gone through a lot of changes,” Cox said. “The question now is: How will you change the world? ”
Cox added the new graduates must be willing to embrace the world and the world economy and never fail to let the world see them shine.
Brownell, who will retire as RCCC president on June 1, received the lifetime designation and title of president emeritus from the RCCC Board of Trustees. Board chairman Ray Paradowski presented Brownell with a framed citation proclaiming him president emeritus.
“For more than 30 years, Dr. Brownell has provided the college unwavering and insightful leadership,” Paradowski said. “For more than 30 years, he has worked diligently and unselfishly to meet the changing needs of our region while championing RCCC’s mission of providing technical education and meeting Rowan and Cabarrus County’s workforce development needs. For more than 30 years, Dr. Brownell has tirelessly built RCCC into the respected and loved institution that serves our community today.”
Serving as graduation marshals were Olivia Ackerman, Janie Aldrich, Amanda Barthell, Michelle Bethea, James Carter, Kristy Cloutier, James Hinson, Troy Lundgren, Tammy Lunsford, Ann Padilla, Sharday Pavone, Julie Scott, Mark Taylor, James Washer and Jessica Wilson.

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