The 41st annual spring commencement was held at East Central College Friday evening, May 13.
The Class of 2011 included 484 candidates for graduation.
Dr. David Russell, Missouri commissioner of higher education, was the commencement speaker.
Russell spoke to the graduates about the importance of making a difference to society, especially in today’s rapidly changing world.
“Living with greater uncertainty has become a fact of life,” Russell said. “In the world we are creating, personal interaction and connectedness are at risk.
“As you apply your education in the workplace, you will be required to be flexible and adaptable, to work in teams and take risks, to question assumptions, be innovative and reach out to others.”
Russell continued, “No matter what technological advances are made, there is no substitute for active personal engagement and interaction with people and the world around you.
“There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ ”
Russell noted that the graduates must use their education to think critically about the world around them.
“Mass media infiltrates our lives 24/7,” he said. “We are told what to buy, who to vote for and what to think. So the skill of critical thinking is paramount, but it must be practiced. Use it or lose it.”
Dr. Edward Jackson, president of ECC, conferred associate degrees and certificates upon the graduates. Members of the college board of trustees awarded the diplomas.
Angela Vincent of Cuba, Mo., received the Outstanding Student Award, the highest award given to an ECC graduate.
A wife and mother of four, Vincent majored in English at ECC and hopes to return to the community college one day as a faculty member.
In making the presentation, Cookie Hays, vice president of student development, noted that Vincent is an exceptional student who eagerly volunteers when needed and willingly arranges her schedule for the good of the cause.
“It’s not that Angela has fewer or less important commitments than other students, but she highly values the opportunity to lead others and to participate in a new learning experience,” Hays said.
“She balances school along with her family responsibilities, part-time jobs, and a 40-minute commute to campus. Her personality blends easily with all ages and her natural leadership skills have lent stability to a number of organizations,” she said.
Vincent served this past year as secretary of the Student Government Association, and was named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”
While attending ECC she was very active in Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
She served as public relations secretary and was the distinguished chapter member for 2008-2009, and the distinguished chapter officer for 2009-2010. She was named one of three distinguished chapter members for the Missouri region of Phi Theta Kappa in 2009, and one of three distinguished chapter officers for the Missouri region for 2010.
This year she was named a hall of honor award recipient by the Missouri region for outstanding contributions to the society.
She was one of only two ECC students nominated for the All USA Academic Team, going on to attain the distinction of First Team All Missouri and recognition as a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholar.
In recognition of her campus leadership, she also received the Missouri Community College Leadership Award.
Vincent served the campus community by assisting with Boy Scout and Girl Scout merit badge workshops, ushering at college theater productions, organizing campus clean-ups, and assisting with last year’s commencement ceremony, music festival and international festival.
“Her impact outside the classroom is best recognized in the way she influences other students,” noted Hays. “I can think of no better example of a student who has thrived in the community college environment and used every experience to expand her future opportunities.”
A 1993 graduate of Owensville High School, Vincent plans to attend Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla next year and pursue a bachelor’s degree in English.
In making the presentation, Hays noted that the honoree is selected by a vote of the faculty and staff who consider academic achievement as well as extracurricular involvement.