Dr. Precie A. Schroyer welcomes students.
Good evening, everyone. It is my great honor and pleasure to welcome all of you on behalf of the NCC faculty. I welcome you graduates and your loved ones, NCC faculty and staff, the board of trustees, and honored guests. This is not only a literal welcome to this evening's commencement but also, for you graduates, it is a symbolic welcome to a new world, one in which you have new "rights, privileges, and responsibilities" as graduates of Northampton Community College. When you are called to come up and receive your diploma or certificate, you will hear that phrase again: your "rights, privileges, and responsibilities." It's a serious phrase befitting the importance of your accomplishments here and of your journey to this moment.
Think back on that journey here at NCC. Think about when you started here, about some of the classes you've taken, about the instructors and classmates you've worked with. Here are some questions for you to consider:
How many of you felt nervous when you first started?
How many of you at times felt overwhelmed by everything you had to get done?
How many of you made sacrifices to complete your degree or certificate?
How many of you can think of an NCC faculty member who has challenged and motivated you?
Poet Emily Dickinson has a poem that begins:
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies-(1-4)
In these lines, Dickinson captures a simple but powerful truth, which is that we don't fully know what we are capable of accomplishing until we are challenged, until we "are called to rise." Only then do we realize how much more we can do than we expected.
One of the NCC faculty's goals has been to challenge and motivate you to rise: challenge you to think more critically, challenge you to work harder than you thought you could, challenge you to look at the world and at yourself in new ways, and challenge you to be a thoughtful, determined, and active participant not only in the NCC community but in life in general.
And so your graduation today means that you have both new privileges and new responsibilities-new doors open to you as you continue wherever your journey takes you and new responsibilities to your community, to your world, and to yourself to keep rising, to keep challenging yourself.
On behalf of the NCC faculty, I am proud of you. I believe in you, and I am confident you will "touch the skies." Congratulations and enjoy tonight's ceremony!