It was hard for me to believe as I sat outside in the rain yesterday at Peninsula College’s Commencement for the graduating class of June 18th 2016, it had been two years since I walked across the stage with the graduating class of 2014. At that time my young nieces, Addie and Emily Enges were in the audience watching me. Today, I had the pleasure of being in the audience watching them graduate.
It was the Fifty-Fourth Commencement of Peninsula College here in Port Angeles. It was also the largest class in its history to graduate. 591 folks from all walks of life received their diplomas in many different fields across the spectrum. Because of this fact, there was no room inside and the ceremony had to be held outside.
In the Pacific Northwest we are very used to rain at anytime of the year. June is no exception. And it proved to be very wet for the graduates and audience alike. But Rick Ross who has been in charge of getting it all together for many commencements was prepared. As the spectators filed in they were all issued a small bag with a hooded poncho inside. And they were most certainly put to good use!
The Kenmore Pipe Band led the staff and faculty to the stage, followed by the graduating class. My friend, mentor, and videography professor Renne Brock-Richmond was part of the faculty procession. She has been instrumental in inspiring me in the field of videography and getting my business started, as well as many other students. Some of those students were Sierra Horsley and Woody French who were graduating yesterday. I have had the pleasure of working with both. They are talented videographers and I expect to see them flourish in this field here on the Peninsula.
President Dr. Luke Robins introduced the class and the keynote speakers, Rep. Steve Tharinger and student speaker Mia Steben. The theme was from Eleanor Roosevelt, who once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Rep. Tharinger reminded the attendees that Peninsula College was a community college. A community of diverse people whose dreams can be made real by hard work and commitment to those dreams.
Young Mia Steben’s story was incredible. She told the audience that she didn’t know her real birthday and who her biological parents were. She had been abandoned on the streets of Beijing, China as an infant and had found her way to the United States, where she was standing as an honor student to the amazement of many in the audience, me included. She overcame much and dreamed large to be where she was today. Truly an inspiration!
As I read through the commencement program, looking for people I might know, reading the names on the very long list, I came to the last two pages. I was shocked and surprised to see me and my story gracing those last two page! The title was, “Student’s Dream Take Flight.” It was the story Peninsula College ran in their PC Magazine and ran on the their website on how I had changed careers. (It can be found in the archives on this website) And with the help of the VA’s VRAP program, Terry Smith, Peninsula College’s veteran coordinator, the encouragement of faculty members like Renne Brock-Richmond, Marina Shipvoa, my digital editing professor, and my English teacher, Helen Lovejoy who all contributed to give me a ‘dream’ of starting Spirit Vision Films.
I owe so much to Peninsula College. Being around young folks and the constant encouragement of the staff and faculty gave me a vision that transcends my current age. In my mind, I am still forty (that is until I look in the mirror!). Clint Eastwood turned 86 years old this year and he is still making films. So I think that gives me at least twenty more years to accomplish something with the skills I have learned at PC!
Although the rain dampened the atmosphere, it could not dampen the enthusiasm I felt from the graduating class as one by one they ascended the stairs to the stage and received their diplomas. It was a great day to be in the audience!
Finally the tassels changed sides on the graduate’s caps and a shout was heard from the crowd as President Robins congratulated the class and dismissed them. Then the pipers came back and lead the processional away from the stage and the commencement ended. Although the ceremony had ended, it was actually the beginning of new life adventures for those students, including my nieces who I am so proud of! I can’t wait to see what dreams they make into reality.
Here are a few of the images I shot at the ceremony. Enjoy!