“Your choice of Northampton was an excellent beginning to a new phase of your life whether you use your education to start a new career or to transfer to a four-year college,” faculty speaker Professor Dennis Ebersole said during Northampton Community College’s (NCC) virtual spring commencement celebration on May 27. He referenced the David Phelps gospel song, “The End of the Beginning,” as he encouraged graduates to ponder their experiences: “The end of the beginning is a time to reflect on what you have learned and how much you have grown.”
After 50 years in the mathematics department Ebersole, a beloved member of the NCC family, is retiring and celebrating the end of his own beginning along with the grads.
“I am so proud of how you have responded to the challenges that have been placed in front of each of you, rising above the hurdles and circumstances, to persevere and succeed. You have all shown us what persistence and grit are all about!” Dr. Mark Erickson, president of NCC, said in the recorded event video that was broadcasted on the college’s website.
Numbering 650, the graduates Dr. Erickson described as a “very special class at a pivotal moment in our country’s history,” ranged in age from 18 to 75, hailing from 15 countries, with 31 graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
The first student speaker representing NCC’s Monroe Campus was Michael Wlodarczyk, a communications major who passed his real estate exam while staying on top of his classes and making the dean’s list every semester.
Wlodarczyk said, “What I’ve learned at NCC is to never let an opportunity pass you by. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but how we choose to spend that time creates fundamental differences in our lives. Take advantage of every opportunity. Live each moment with purpose, confidence, and always maintain an insatiable curiosity for all that the people in our lives have to offer.”
Victoria Rosenthal, representing NCC’s Bethlehem Campus, has won a full-ride scholarship to West Chester University, as a member of the 2021 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team. The ambitious psychology major, having dealt with her own mental health challenges earlier in life, has a passion for helping others.
“For many people, giving an address to the entire graduating class might be the most nervous moment of their life. But for me, that just isn’t the case. I’ve learned so many ways to handle my emotions that are better than how I used to in the past,” Rosenthal shared, before detailing her struggles with mental illness, including a panic attack on the way to her high school graduation that made her jump out of a moving car, and, not long after, an attempt to end her life.
“If I can go from being unconscious in the ICU to the student speaker of graduation, then each and every one of you can become whatever it is you aspire to be,” Rosenthal said encouragingly to her fellow graduates. “Happy graduation, and I wish you all the best of luck at whatever it is you pursue, because the rest of your life starts today.”
The deans of each school then read the names of the students who were granted diplomas, certificates and degrees, followed by Dr. Erickson encouraging grads watching at home to move the tassel on their caps from the right to the left, signifying they were now NCC alumni.
Alumna Juanita Shockley ’20 sang the National Anthem before the ceremony began, and it ended with a choir singing the NCC alma mater, “Oh Northampton,” with music and lyrics by Mario Acerra, professor of radio/TV.
In the week leading up to commencement, students had the opportunity to take photos at both the Bethlehem and Monroe campuses as special photo opportunity stations. View the photo gallery here. For more commencement coverage, including a complete list of graduates, go to northampton.edu/commencement.
Congratulations to all NCC graduates!