Until Carlo Robustelli made me aware of it, I did not realize that there was another big graduation held on the afternoon of Wednesday May18th. Carlo as you may know is the Director of Durham Technical Community College’s Orange County Operations in Hillsborough. This was the College’s 50th commencement and over 800 students received degrees, diplomas, and certificates during the ceremony at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The graduation speaker was our 4th District Congressman, The Honorable David Price, a man who truly values and fights for education funding. Congressman Price said it well when he asked, “Does education work? Here in this room is all the evidence we need.”

For those of us in “Chapelboro” land, we know how much we value education and the strong commitment we make. Thus, opening a Durham Tech campus in Orange County in 2008 was a big deal because it made it easier for local folks to take advantage of the opportunities to gain the education they needed to realize their dreams. For some that degree is an associate degree that will allow them to qualify for a particular job and for others, it is the opportunity to transfer to a four-year college or university.

Programs include more than the associate’s degree in arts and sciences. Some pursue degrees offered in business and public technologies, health technologies, industrial/engineering technologies, and information systems technologies. Others come to Durham Tech and earn diplomas by completing their GED or adult high school, and some earn certificates by completing continuing education programs. It’s impressive too that there are students who returned to school after a long absence, students who needed new skills that would allow them to work in new fields, and others who obtained additional skills.

Durham Tech President Bill Ingram said at the graduation that the diverse graduates “juggled work and family and other obligations and the requirements of life while they’ve learned about anatomy and physiology or the principles of accounting or English composition or network security.” Students also participated in Durham Tech’s 50th anniversary year of service program that offered the opportunity to engage with the community through service.

With students from 20 to over 60 years old and an average age around 30, men and women of different races and from different ethnic groups, and students from over 35 countries, the unique mission community colleges serve cannot be over-stated. What they also contribute to our state and our community is something that we should laude. Helping people prepare themselves to pursue their dreams and their careers makes it possible for them to help make this a better community. And note what this great resource can do for our economic development efforts and how it can help many local businesses.

Yes, this is a great time of year as we watch graduates from are local institutions honored for their achievements. Let’s never forget those from our great community college system and the leaders they produce; they deserve our attention too. After all, the more the merrier is so true!

PS: You can get more information at www.durhamtech.edu/orange/orange.htm

Now, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Comment below!