Elation spilled out of the room as the seconds counted down to Gila Community College graduation ceremonies for 47 students Wednesday afternoon.
As the cameras flashed, cheers echoed from the crowd as the students maneuvered to their seats. The students graduating with an associate degree donned caps and gowns, as the Nursing Assistant graduates coordinated in matching scrubs, and the remaining classes appeared in casual dress-up.
The school graduated students with associate degrees in nursing, environmental technology and general studies along with certificates of completion as a nursing assistant and a certificate of proficiency in fire science.
The ceremonies for the proud graduating class of 2008 filled up the 150-person community room at Gila Community College (GCC), with the rest of the throng spilling out the doorway and outside the building.
Others found seating in two designated rooms and viewed the ceremony on TV screens, courtesy of the ITV technician team led by L.Q. Harris III. Grandparents, parents, spouses, children, and even a terrier anticipated the arrival of the graduates and the commencement May 7 proceedings.
The speeches read by the faculty were short, but they all aimed to inspire, motivate, and congratulate.
Payson Campus Dean Pamela Butterfield began the ceremony with greetings and emphasized, "The purpose of GCC is creating futures, and today I can say with confidence we are doing just that."
Gila County Supervisor Tommie C. Martin delivered an inspirational speech, telling students, "You stuck it out. You persevered. Today is the day one of your dreams come true."
Students were awarded Certificates of Completion, Certificates of Proficiency, or an Associates degrees based on their field of study. In accordance with tradition, nursing students observed the nurse's pinning ceremony as a rite-of-passage.
Jaden Rosser, a nursing graduate, said "I had a friend who was hurt and that experience sparked an interest in anesthesia."
Rosser worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the Payson Regional Medical Center and will continue on as a registered nurse (RN).
He figured that his career as a nurse will help others and support his family financially as he pursues his masters in anesthesia.
Courtney Hamilton, also a nursing graduate, described how she incorporates all she has learned in her work at Payson Care Center and how she wishes to continue her education. "Eventually I would like to specialize in oncology nursing. Right now, I really like my job," said Hamilton.
Graduates were -- Associate of Applied Science - Nursing: Courtney Hamilton, Jennifer Mathias, Jaden Rosser, Melissa Hazelo, Kim Miles, Lori Shepherd, Mekahla Marshall, Lisa Mulcahey, Cheryl Slatalla;
Associate of Applied Science - Environmental Technology: Tracy Treat;
Associate of General Studies: Stephanie Roberson, Daniel Sweitzer
Certificate of Completion - Nursing Assistant: Katelyn Aganowski, Paul Hutchison, Norma Palestino, Mariah Clawson, Megan Larive, Amanda Parker, Selina Dehart, Regan Marquiss, Joanna Parone, Kylea Donaldson, Reuben Miles, Shannon Psomas, Michelle Gomez, Steven Montoya, Candee, Randall, Jocelyn hamilton, Emily Morton, Alicia Sexton, Frieda Haught, Ana Palestino, Tanya Vernetti
Certificate of Completion - Emergency Medical Technician: William Beller, Dominic Masse, Jay Wagner, Nick Fitch, Michael Murphy, Frederick Washburn, Ryan MacNeal, John Pinnick, Alexandria White, Margaret Mansor.
Certificate of Proficiency - Fire Science: Kelsey Bregar, Oscar Teran, Matthew West, Segan Cline