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Hundreds graduate on Friday

Wallace Community  College Selma alumni and James M. Mitchell Award winner Dewarren Baldwon points to the crowd Friday during the school’s commencement ceremony.   (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)

Wallace Community
College Selma alumni and James M. Mitchell Award winner Dewarren Baldwon points to the crowd Friday during the school’s commencement ceremony. (Josh Bergeron | Times-Journal)

By Josh Bergeron and Sarah Robinson

The Selma Times-Journal 

 

Hundreds of students marked the next chapter in their lives Friday with graduation ceremonies at two local colleges.

Selma University was up first,  graduating twenty-two students with masters, bachelors or doctoral degrees Friday afternoon during Selma University’s 131st Spring Commencement ceremony.

Selma University President Dr. Alvin Cleveland Sr. said he’s proud to see students at his university walk across the stage after years of dedicating their time and effort to completing their education at the university.

“I feel good, because they worked hard,” Cleveland said. “It always a good feeling to see people finish his or her work and move on to something else.”

Before attending his own commencement ceremony, Wallace Community College — Selma President Dr. James Mitchell was the commencement speaker for Selma University.

Mitchell encouraged the students to apply the diligent attitude they used to earn their degree to their efforts to become successful after gradation.

“What is most important is now that you are here, what are you going to do about it?” Mitchell said. “What are you going to do to make a difference that’s most relevant as far as that question?”

After the ceremony, Mitchell rushed across town to celebrate Wallace’s graduation. A total of 518 students received a degree or certificate as a part of the 2014 class and 200 students participated in the ceremony.

Wallace graduate Zeb Lee III opened up the ceremony by greeting his fellow classmates and offering congratulations.

“We did it guys,” Lee said.

State Rep. Darrio Melton followed Lee as the commencement speaker. Melton offered words of encouragement and told graduates to leave their mark on the world.

“What matters is what’s inside of you,” Melton said. “Only you can define who you are. Many will strive to be survivors, just enough to get by, and many will strive to be successful. I challenge the next generation and the graduates tonight not to just survive, not just to be successful, but to be significant because when you are significant you impact other people’s lives.”

Wallace honored three students for outstanding achievement.

The first was Nivory Gordon III, who received the Academic Excellence Award. Gordon received an associate’s degree in arts and science. Gordon is also a dual-enrollment student, meaning he received a college degree a few weeks before graduating from high school. A total of seven local high schools had dual-enrollment students that received college degrees Friday night.

Two students — cosmetology graduate Dewarren Baldwin and welding technology graduate Timothy Cooper — tied for Wallace’s highest honor — the James M. Mitchell Award.