The best time of the year is here – commencement season! I love seeing our graduates celebrate their moment as they cross the commencement stage and soar to their futures.
I was thrilled to lead the 58th annual Commencement exercises for the Lorain County Community College and University Partnership Class of 2022. This was our first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019, and it was wonderful to see our field house filled with graduates and their supporters.The Class of 2022 included 1,773 graduates earning 2,193 associate degrees and certificates – and four of those students earned an applied bachelor’s degree from LCCC in microelectronic manufacturing. An additional 351 graduates earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees through LCCC’s University Partnership. That’s a grand total of 2,554 degrees and credentials earned by 2,124 graduates, and I am incredibly proud of each and every one.
This graduating class holds a special place in my heart as this year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of LCCC’s University Partnership. This program launched in 1996 as an innovative solution to the fact that Lorain County was falling behind in bachelor’s degree attainment. What began with five partner colleges and universities offering 12 degrees has grown to now include 14 partners and more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Students who complete degrees through the University Partnership save an average of $74,000.
And that all adds up to big strides for our region. Since 2000, Lorain County has experienced a 77% increase in bachelor’s degree holders – one of two counties in Northeast Ohio with the highest increase in baccalaureate attainment. And we continue to enhance the University Partnership, most recently through an expanded strategic alliance with Case Western Reserve University to continue to fuel Ohio’s emerging semiconductor economy.
Helping our students get a jump-start on their higher education goals are our dual enrollment programs. This year, 127 high school students earned a degree or certificate at the same time they completed high school through Early College High School, College Credit Plus or Career Technical Education programs. This includes Sierra Mobley, who earned both an associate of arts and an associate of science at the same time she completed Lorain County Early College High School on the LCCC campus. In everything we do at LCCC, it’s all about helping our graduates and our region soar. To celebrate the class of 2022 and recognize the 25th anniversary of the University Partnership, we dedicated a breathtaking public art display called SOAR, Success and Opportunity, Advancing the Region. The display spans 200 feet and features 2,022 sculpted birds in perpetual motion, soaring in the air. When you stand near the display, you feel the sensation of being in a flock of birds that has just taken to flight.
It’s my hope that our graduates and our community see this display and are reminded of their own potential to take flight and achieve the lives and careers of their dreams. And I hope they know their community college is here for them along the way.