Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was the keynote speaker at St. Charles Community College during its 23rd annual commencement on May 14, 2011, which celebrated the accomplishments of more than 650 graduates of the class of 2011.
This year’s commencement ceremony took place during SCC’s 25th anniversary year. “For a quarter of a century, graduates of St. Charles Community College have gone on to serve their communities and our state with highest distinction,” Gov. Nixon said. “You students are about to become part of that tradition.”
“It’s a milestone year for St. Charles Community College,” Gov. Nixon said. “With the steadfast investment and the leadership and vision of St. Charles County, you have come a long way, from a temporary campus with just 400 students, to this thriving complex,” Nixon said. “You stand on the shoulders of some great leaders.”
The Governor urged graduates to use their education to promote informed, rational debate on pressing global issues from climate change to sustainable economic development. Gov. Nixon also acknowledged the upcoming September retirement of John M. McGuire, Ph.D., SCC president, and thanked McGuire for his 15 years of outstanding service to the college and the community. “I hope that you have the deepest understanding of how many thousands of lives you have directly and dramatically affected, and on behalf of the people of the state of Missouri, I thank you, Sir.” Gov. Nixon said.
“Gov. Nixon knows first-hand the vital role community colleges play in making higher education accessible to all of our citizens and in preparing our workforce with skilled jobs of the future,” said McGuire. “Gov. Nixon is a true champion of education.”
Also addressing a crowd of nearly 1,500 graduates, faculty, relatives, and friends was student representative Sam Imperiale, of St. Peters, who received an Associate of Arts degree. He talked about the tremendous opportunity SCC provides, and told students not to let anything stand in the way of their dreams.
Imperiale, 54, came to SCC after the economic downturn caused him to lose his job as a carpenter in 2008. He plans to transfer to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he was recently accepted into the Pierre Laclede Honors College. He hopes to eventually pursue a master's degree in English and return to SCC as a teacher. While at SCC, he was a member of the Returning Learners Club, a Student Ambassador and member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He told students he found a new positive attitude at SCC. “So many things seemed impossible, but I realized that if anything was standing in the way of my goals, it was me,” Imperiale said. “My hope for all of you is that you would all achieve your true potential.”
During the commencement ceremony, the Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to James Hall III, of St. Charles, sixth grade science teacher at Orchard Farm Middle School. Michael Lissner, president of the SCC Foundation Board, presented the award.
Hall’s passion for teaching was ignited during a physics class at SCC, and today Hall is focused on making an impact on his students – both in the way they understand science, and in the way they view their own career potential. After attending SCC, Hall transferred to Lindenwood University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in education in 2008.
Presiding over the commencement ceremony was McGuire, with William R. Pundmann, president of the SCC Board of Trustees, and Michael Banks, vice-president for academic and student affairs assisting with the conferring of degrees and certificates. Music was provided by the SCC Concert Band, directed by John Walker, and the SCC Singers and Show Choir, directed by Gene Ditch. The Commencement Marshal was John Bookstaver, professor of chemistry. Ushers included cadets from the Eastern Missouri Law Enforcement Training Academy and from student organizations and college staff.
Established in 1986, St. Charles Community College is celebrating 25 years as a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.