As Carroll Community College's students crossed the stage during commencement Monday afternoon, they carried with them their hopes and plans for the future, as well as the memories and knowledge gained throughout their time at the school.
According to President James Ball, about 50 percent of Carroll's students plan to immediately transfer and continue their schooling at four-year colleges and other educational institutions. Among the graduating class, 60 percent plan to enter the workforce full-time, meaning one-10th of the graduates plan to work full-time while finishing their education.
Taylor Rose, of Eldersburg, said she worked as a server at Denny's while attending Carroll Community. She said it was great to have an affordable option for schooling while working on her education degree. In the fall, she said, she's going to transfer to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to complete her studies.
Following the processional of students and faculty, Barbara Charnock, who is serving her last year on the board of trustees, gave the commencement address. Charnock has been with the college for 33 years, serving on the first advisory board for the school, then serving on the board of trustees for 24 years.
During her speech she emphasized the importance of taking what the students learned at the school and applying those lessons to their lives in a compassionate and humanistic manner.
"Success and adherence to these core values do not need to be mutually exclusive," Charnock said. "In fact, the success is more fulfilling and longer lasting having been achieved in a culture of integrity and empowerment."
Shawn Sweep, of Westminster, said it was definitely worthwhile starting his schooling at Carroll. Sweep, who studied electrical engineering, plans to transfer to the University of Maryland, College Park, to complete his degree in the fall.
"Anyone in high school should go to community college," Sweep said. "People say, 'Oh, it's just a community college; you're not going to learn a lot.' But you do. You have a personal connection with each of the teachers."
After each student crossed the stage and received their diploma, student Olivia Hare gave the student response, closing out the ceremony with the thoughts and words of the next generation of alumni. Hare emphasized that no student completed their work at the school alone. Each had a team of people working with and supporting them.
"I urge you to thank that professor, adviser, family member or friend for supporting you through the tough times," Hare said. "You are here today because of their love and commitment."
Ronesa Mustafa, of Westminster, said the teachers at Carroll Community were hugely important to helping her earn her degree. Though she said she's sad to move on, she said she's also excited to go onto finishing the second half of her teaching program. She said she sees herself returning to Carroll after finishing her degree at Towson University.
"I never pictured myself coming to Carroll, but now I can't imagine not having come here," Mustafa said. "I learned so much, and the teachers were so fantastic."