845 graduates celebrated at CAC’s annual commencement ceremony
By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Eight-hundred and forty-five Central Arizona College students were celebrated for completing their degrees and certificates during the institution's first-ever all-campus commencement exercises on the evening of Friday, May 16 at CAC's Signal Peak Campus. Thousands in attendance witnessed the start of a new journey for the graduates as the sun set behind Signal Peak, which served as a backdrop for the ceremony.
The ceremony was the first to combine graduates from the college's five Pinal County campuses.
After a welcome and introductions conducted by Dr. James Moore, CAC's vice president of college affairs, the graduates were addressed by T.J. Shope ('05), a Coolidge native and a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. The 28-year old attempted to avoid clichés but acknowledged that it really wasn't long ago that he sat in the same seats as the graduates. In summary, his speech brought in to focus the many ups-and-downs that all people face in pursuit of their dreams.
Following Shope's speech, women's basketball student-athlete Jamie Roe (Tuba City/Tuba City HS) was the first of two students to address their fellow graduates. She spoke about the perseverance that was required to come from a small town in the Navajo Nation and pursue her dreams of playing collegiate basketball in the Big 12 Conference.
"While some wait for dreams to come true, we [as students] are chasing our dreams."
Roe has earned a basketball scholarship to Texas Tech University, a member of the Big 12.
"If we can't accept failure," said Luu Thai (Apache Junction/Apache Junction HS), "we can't accept ourselves." Thai's speech focused on failure as a necessary part of the learning process. He encouraged his fellow graduates not to punish themselves too harshly but to learn from their mistakes should they fail.
Lastly, faculty senate president Vickie Young-Chiverton, presented the degree and certificate candidates to the CAC Governing Board, which conferred the degrees and certificates. The graduating students were congratulated as they crossed the stage by the five members of the CAC Governing Board as well as CAC President Dr. Doris Helmich.
Of the 845 graduates, 332 of them were receiving certificates. 457 of the graduates (a little over 54 percent) were female, while the eldest graduate was 74 years old and the youngest was 16.
An official list of CAC graduates will be released and published once the degrees and certificates have been confirmed.