Northampton Community College (NCC) welcomed esteemed guests and NCC faculty and staff in the Bethlehem Campus Spartan Center to honor NCC’s Spring Class of 2023 on May 25. The room of attendees looked on with full hearts as over 350 students took to the stage, including 26 who had achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Serving as the commencement marshal, Counseling Professor, James Colón, led the procession at the start of commencement. Class of 2023 graduate, Catina Gordon, graced the audience with her beautiful voice as she sang the National Anthem and NCC Alma Mater at the open and close of the ceremony.
President of NCC, Dr. David A. Ruth, expressed his excitement for the graduates. “This graduating class is a special group of students who are ready for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I have no doubt they will make their mark on our community, our country, and our world.”
Ruth shared stories of several graduates, highlighting their achievements and perseverance to reach graduation day — students like Seong Kim, diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and ADHD at a young age, but who overcame his disabilities to pursue a career in computer science and engineering; international student, Ismael Adedoyin, who wants to return his home in the Ivory Coast following graduation to work as a social worker and serve as a child advocate in his homeland; or Shantiel Morel, a single mom who fell on tough times, including poverty, but persevered to reach the finish line in her dental hygiene program.
Chairman of the NCC Board of Trustees and 1975 graduate of NCC, Bob Fehnel, shared, “This is one of the best days of the year. It puts everything in perspective. You are quite simply why we do what we do. Today is a day our college shines through the accomplishments of our students. I am confident that you all will forge ahead to make a better life for yourselves, your families, and your neighbors.”
Student commencement speaker and journalism graduate, Kaitlyn Seawood, faced many obstacles en route to NCC — with the loss of loved ones, a struggle with depression and anxiety, and more. “This time, three years ago, I realized we only have so much time on earth; so, we have to make the most of it,” and she stressed some things that she wants her fellow students to remind themselves of on good and bad days.
“You are going to grow into numerous versions of yourselves. Embrace the change. Sometimes you need a little extra support. Accept help. Don’t feel out of place. You’re exactly where you should be. Follow your dreams. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. The only way to feel fulfilled is by doing great work, and the only way to do great work is by loving what you do,” Seawood told her fellow graduates.
Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Bruce Palmer, presented the Trustee Leadership Award to Seawood, who has been recognized by fellow students and faculty members as possessing outstanding leadership qualities.
This spring’s faculty speaker, Kevin Manna, computer science professor, told students, “As you know many career fields require us to continue to learn, and I hope you always will improve upon yourself. Stay curious. Be gracious Work and play hard.” He left the students with a motivating quote from filmmaker, Warren Miller, “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
“There is optimism in the air. That’s the sense I feel looking at every single one of you in this room,” said Easton’s City Administrator, Luis Campos, this Spring’s commencement speaker. He followed with sage advice. “The road to your career goal may not be a straight line. Enjoy the peaks and valleys. You may have to do work just to get by, but it may lead you to experience new things that you’ll need for your future. Whatever you do, don’t give up. You may fail along the way. But, if you fail, and you keep trying, success is right around the corner. Trust me.”
President Ruth presented Campos with the Commencement Speaker Scholarship created in honor of those who speak at this special graduation celebration. Ruth recognized the student recipient this spring, Alexa-Nichole Villafana, media and professional writing major.
Loved ones, professors and mentors watched as the proud graduates received their diplomas, certificates and degrees, the portion of the ceremony the graduates and their families looked forward to most.
At the closing of the ceremony, Keela Vincent, class of 1994 alumna, addressed the new alumni in the room. “As you move through your days, remember to think back on moments like these, and the community behind you as it continues to cheer you on. I look forward to seeing you out in the community, but whenever you feel disconnected, come wander these halls.”
Vincent officially welcomed the Class of 2023 to the alumni association as they shifted their tassels from the right to the left side of their caps as the Spartan Center filled with overwhelming cheers and applause.