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RCCC holds record-setting graduation

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

For Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, spring 2019 commencement brought with it the opportunity to celebrate numerous milestones. The 55th graduation honored a record number of degree and certificate recipients – 1,747, to be exact.

This is a 302-person or 20% growth year-over-year when compared to 2018’s class of 1,445.

With a graduating class size so large, the college for the first time offered two windows for commencement celebrations. The first, at 10 a.m., was held for students completing one of the college’s transfer degree programs. The second, at 2 p.m., celebrated those earning an associate in general education or any other degree, diploma or certificate and high school equivalency.

“With more than 1,747 accomplished graduates receiving degrees, diplomas and certificates today, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is navigating forward stronger than ever before,” said college President Dr. Carol Spalding.

The graduates would join nearly 700,000 others that Rowan-Cabarrus had influenced, educated and enriched through the years, she said.

But there was more to celebrate than number of graduates alone. The 2018-19 school year brought with it marked wins and accomplishments for the college. Spalding was named the 2019 North Carolina Community College President of the Year, and the college was named the North Carolina Community College System’s 2019 Distinguished Partner in Excellence with Castle and Cooke North Carolina and the city of Kannapolis.

The three entities had partnered together in the transformation of Kannapolis, said Spalding, including working to construct the new College Station and to secure a donation of three acres for the new Advanced Technology Center.

City Manager of Kannapolis called the partnership “truly unique.”

“We believe we became the first city in 2014 to fund a community college building when we contributed $150,000 toward the relocation for the college’s cosmetology school,” he said.

Still other celebrations were had on Friday. Student Susana Saucedo Mata was named the college’s nominee for the North Carolina Dallas Herring Achievement Award, Jacob Mohammad was named nominee for the Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award and Jason Stover was awarded the 2019 Academic Excellence Award for the college.

Jessica Parker and Aaron Tallman received this year’s Teaching Excellence Awards.

Finally, 2 p.m. commencement speaker Eva Nicholson, the college’s 2018-19 Student Government Association president, brought focus back to the reason behind the day’s festivities: the graduates.

“Each of us has a unique story that brought us here today – barriers we have overcome, challenges that have made us who we are,” she said.

For her, this unique life story included a battle with cancer four years ago.

“Doctors told me that 80% of enduring chemo and beating this disease is attitude,” she said. “I was told, ‘no matter what, dress up and show up.’”

This lesson would carry her through a decision to re-enter the world of education later in life, and she said she could see a similar fortitude in her Rowan-Cabarrus peers.

“Like me, you still showed up, dressed up, came to class and turned in those assignments,” she said. “… Whatever you have aspired to be, never forget how it all started: with an open doorway to success, a dream and the determination to show up.”

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