GEORGETOWN – It was a special night for commencement, celebration and anniversary.
Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus’ Class of 2019 followed in the footsteps of the Class of 1969 as 21 members of Del Tech’s first commencement led the way in the ceremonial processional.
“You were the first to take the chance on Delaware Tech and you were examples of all other classes to follow,” said DTCC vice president/campus director Dr. Bobbi Barends in welcoming Class of 1969 members.
DTCC’s Class of 2019 totals 381 graduates, more than triple the 107 in DTCC’s Class of 1969.
This year’s class is comprised of 66 percent women and 28 percent minorities.
The oldest graduate is 64; the youngest 18.
Fifteen graduates attained a 4.0 grade point average.
Twenty 2019 graduates are military veterans, who drew special applause.
“Our graduates are the stars of the evening. Graduates, we are so proud of you,” said Dr. Barends. “The road here was not always smooth. Throughout your travels many of you encountered challenges. Some of these challenges tested your courage, your strength and your faith.”
Graduate Leslie Hitchens, who received an associate degree in nursing, know all about life’s challenges. It’s what brought her to Del Tech.
“My son Greysen was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010. And our experiences with him led me down the path to nursing,” said Ms. Hitchens, adding that earning her degree was truly rewarding but “one of the hardest things I have ever done.”
“Numerous times I came close to just walking away from it,” she said. “But we have amazing faculty here and they have made sure that we are successful. They are very understanding of circumstances and cheer us on.”
Martha Callaway was among the Class of 1969 members on hand for the 50th anniversary celebration. She had family ties as well. Her grand-daughter Amber and niece Lauren Balas both received diplomas as 2019 graduates.
Ms. Callaway, whose data processing education was put to good use between working at Seaford DuPont, motherhood and ministry with the United Methodist Church, remembers the early days of DTCC.
“It was just one building. It was the old Jason High School,” she said. “It was exciting to have a secondary school here. I was interested in computers. It seemed to be the right way to go.”
Before presentation of diplomas, the Class of 2019 heard congratulatory and inspiration words from commencement speaker Faye Blake, founder of Pathways to success, a nonprofit geared to help students and families achieve success.
Ms. Blake, inspired by positive seeds planted in her as a toddler by her grandmother, rose from poverty and humble beginnings in Selbyville to attain success in the banking world.
“I believe that attitudes are so very critical and important to one’s success,” said Ms. Blake. “The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”
She encouraged graduates to always answer when opportunity knocks. “Make sure you grab ahold of all the opportunities that come your way,” said Ms. Blake. “I believe that ordinary people like myself can do pretty amazing things.”
Ms. Blake advised the class to never give up and when life does throw you a curve, “I am simply going to ask you not to fall back, but I am going to ask you to fall forward.”