President Dr. Joanna Anderson gave some sage advice to the 772 graduates Friday evening at the State Fair Community College 45th Annual Commencement Ceremony, opening her speech by telling students to enjoy this special day, because moments like it are a rare occurrence in the course of a lifetime.
Describing the college community as a family, she continued through her first commencement address as president of SFCC with 10 bullet points of wisdom for the students’ journey ahead. That list began simply with,“be happy.”
“What parents for generations have wanted for their children is for them to be happy,” Anderson said. “Financial success is not a goal in and of itself. The degrees you are about to receive are not just about money. You earned them because you want happiness and it is difficult to be content if you cannot provide for you and your families.”
More tried and true philosophies were offered to the graduates by Anderson. Principles she described as “cliche, but true” such as, “life is hard, be responsible, seize the day” and “it’s not the material things that are important, it’s the people.”
“No higher power is going to judge our success according to how much stuff we have accumulated,” Anderson said. “History’s greatest religious teachers emphasized that one of the most important things in life is how we treat each other. If you only have one rule to live by, live by the golden rule. Treat every person like you would want to be treated if your roles were reversed.”
A total of 836 degrees and certificates were awarded to 772 students. Those included 408 associate of arts degrees, 29 associate of arts in teaching, two associate of science degrees, 239 associate of applied science degrees, 82 professional certificates and 76 skills certificates.
The numbers included students who attended SFCC on the Sedalia campus and at locations in Boonville, Clinton, Eldon, Lake of the Ozarks, Whiteman Air Force Base and online. More than 300 students participated in the ceremony.
Family and friends nearly filled the Mathewson Exhibition Center on the Missouri State Fairgrounds for the ceremony, cheering on those students who had worked and sacrificed over the past years to obtain a degree. Tears of joy were in the eyes of many attendees as the students entered the auditorium to the traditional fanfare of “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Roger C. Austin was named State Fair Community College’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni recipient at the ceremony, but was unable to attend due to a family commitment.
Austin is Sedalia Community President of Simmons Bank and has more than 20 years of banking experience and community involvement in the Sedalia market. He oversees the bank’s Sedalia and Green Ridge financial center retail and commercial operations.
Austin graduated from Northwest High School in 1984 where he played basketball, soccer and baseball. In 1986 he received an associate of arts degree from SFCC, where he played both soccer and baseball. In 1988 he received a bachelor of science degree in general management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.
“When I think about going to SFCC, what I remember most are the people from the surrounding communities I met there,” Austin said. “Some are friends, some are acquaintances and some I still see weekly in my business world. I also had good experiences relating to the other athletes. The bonds you create with your fellow students are a big part of what you remember.”
Austin said he is a huge proponent of SFCC.
“It’s wonderful to have a growing, prospering community college in Sedalia,” he said. “As a business person who has lived in this community for years, I think the opportunities the education process offers to our corporations, and our hospital, are almost immeasurable. To watch the college grow from what it was when I was there to what it has become is truly amazing.”
Instructors and Staff Members of the Year for 2014 were also honored. Those awards are based on votes by the students. Instructor of the Year for 2014 is Randy Crawshaw. Adjunct Instructor of the Year for 2014 is Stacie Wild and Staff Member of the Year for 2014 is Polly Grapes.