The Brickworks building in Friday Harbor was filled with joyful tears on June 14, as the Skagit Valley College San Juan Center held its 2017 graduation ceremony. The event began with a welcome by Randy Martin, center director and “Presidential Address” by Thomas Keegan, SVC president.
“We don’t have to go at it alone,” said graduate Autumn Hallock during her commencement speech, before giving an emotional thank you to her husband and children for their understanding and support while she toiled over classwork.
Hallock was the only academic degree graduate. She will be continuing her education at Western Governor’s University where she will study to obtain her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In keeping with the title of her speech, “Cast off Fear,” Hallock noted that people have at least one thing in common, “at some point, everyone has been afraid.”
Hallock added that while friends and family are there to support you, no on can actually do it for you. There will be people out there, she said, who tell you can’t do it, and voices that tell you aren’t worthy, but it’s the lack of trying that is a failure. She concluded that one should always strive for excellence.
The speech seemed tailor made for the 20 other students honored that day. The class of marine tech students who received their certificates at the June 14 event. This program was part of a partnership between the college and San Juan Economic Development Council. (Read “Free Trades Training” in the Journal’s March 8 issue for more information about this program.) The group included men and women of all ages and from Orcas and Lopez as well as San Juan Island. Because of the lack of space, the class caught the 6 a.m. ferry five days a week, for the last three months. They returned in the afternoon after a full day of classes at the Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing and Technology in Anacortes.
“It has not been easy, it has been very hard work,” said Jill Johnson, English faculty, addressing Hallock and the tech students. Johnson read two poems, “Watershed” by Joel Showalter, and “For My Daughter on Her College Graduation,” by Barbara Crooker, which ends with the lines:
“May you blossom, lavish and profuse. Never forget that the heart is a flower. Go and dance your hour on the lawn. “
Johnson noted how full the room was, standing room only.
“People are proud of you,” Johnson said to the students while the audience applauded.