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RCC live streams virtual celebration on what was supposed to be graduation day

May 14, 2020

While Rockingham Community College’s Spring Commencement ceremony was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Director of Student Life and Athletics Maggie Murray hosted a virtual celebration at 10 a.m. Friday, May 8 – the original time and date when graduation was supposed to begin.

Filmed from the activity room in the Whitcomb Student Center, Murray was joined behind the scenes by employees Noah Dorsett from the IT Department, and Jennifer Altizer from the Maintenance Department. Both Dorsett an Altizer are members of the RCC Class of 2020 and had been set to graduate that day.

Prior to streaming the celebration live on RCC’s YouTube channel, Murray spent weeks arranging video footage of guest speakers, for airing during the 23-minute event – between Murray’s dance moves to songs such as Eye of the Tiger, Billie Jean, and We Are Family.

“I know this semester has been everything but optimal, but I wanted to congratulate everybody for making it to the end of the semester,” said Jarred Simpson, SGA president and sophomore student-athlete, from his residence. “I know you guys will go on to do bigger and better things, and are ready to get back into the normal world and into your normal schedule. …Thank you for all your hard work and keep it up. As always, ‘Go Eagles!’”

Clad in the black and red robe he wears to commencement exercises, Dr. Lowdermilk congratulated the Class of 2020.

“This is certainly going to be a memorable year for you and any other college or university student who have been completing your work and expecting to graduate in a traditional ceremony. We still wanted to take a moment to say we are proud of you for persevering through all that you had to do,” he said.

“Remember that the word ‘commencement’ sometimes means ending. And oftentimes we think of that, because a ceremony will end what you have started,” Lowdermilk said. “Remember too that the word ‘commencement’ means beginning. So, we want you to aim yourself forward and be anticipating great things in what will be your future, whether it is going on to continue your education at another college or university, or to move into the workforce, or even if it’s just to take some time to think about what steps you want to take. This is the time for you to celebrate all of that – something that is ending and something that is beginning.”

Sheila Regan, vice president for Academic Affairs, congratulated the graduates on behalf of all RCC faculty.

“Wow, what a way to spend the last semester of your academic program … quarantine, all instruction online, virtual conversation and class with your faculty, with your classmates, virtual conversations with your friends and library staff to complete your final semester,” she said.

“When I think about the spring semester, I thing about term ‘silver lining.’ You’ve heard of it; every cloud has a silver lining. What that means is that even the worst situation or event or circumstance has a positive aspect. So, 2020 graduating class, when I think of your silver lining, I am reminded of your resilience, your perseverance, your persistence, that grit factor that you developed to push through and finish your final spring semester under some awfully difficult circumstances,” Regan said.

“To be a successful transfer student, or to begin a new job, trust me folks, employers and four-year universities are looking for those characteristics… and the world will need those characteristics to jumpstart our economy and to bring our communities back to a new normal,” she continued. “Graduating Class of 2020, you will always be special to RCC because you had to do something very different. You and our faculty had to create a new normal to finish this academic year. Best of luck to you as you move on to that next endeavor.

RCC President Dr. Mark Kinlaw congratulated the graduates on making it to the end, despite economic and academic challenges.

“You’ve been through a lot in your years here at our college. I hope it has been a good experience for you, hopefully on that has changed your life and set you in a direction of success as you look into the future. You’ve persisted, you’ve worked hard, you’ve been challenged every day, and you’ve made it,” he said. “You’ve made a lot of adjustments to your life, especially in the last six to eight weeks, as we’ve had to take all of our classes and flip those to online where we could … and you’ve adjusted to that, you’ve seen it all the way through. And for that, I am truly appreciative of what you’ve done to get to this point.”

Kinlaw said the graduates have bright futures. He challenged transfer students to join clubs, attend sporting events and get to know people at their new university or college.

“Just get involved. Truly take advantage of the experiences,” he encouraged.

He also challenged the graduates who now hold a diploma or certificate and are entering the world of work. “You’ve got quite a challenge ahead of you as well. But we’ve prepared you for it, we’ve given you the basics that you need to get started in a career. I challenge you to go out and work very hard, and then to realize that jobs change quite often, so I hope that you will adjust to that, which I think you will.”

He advised all of the graduates to continue to learn, because it is a lifelong process.

“Remember that Rockingham Community College is always here to support you in any way that you will need it,” Kinlaw said. “Congratulations to the Class of 2020, you’re an Eagle for life. Go Eagles!”

He reminded the students that while December graduates traditionally join the May graduates for a combined Commencement ceremony, now both classes will join the summer graduates for a ceremony, tentatively on July 23-24.

RCC’s virtual celebration can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RockinghamCC/videos


Rockingham Community College
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375


Monday to Thursday:
8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm


336-349-9986 (fax)