Last class graduates from Concordia College Alabama

Published 7:19 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

The last graduating class of Concordia College Alabama walked across the stage Saturday in the Jenkins Center to receive their degrees.

But they didn’t let the fact that the school is closing its doors get them down. Instead, they celebrated the great times they had together.

“It means so much. Even though it’s bittersweet that we are leaving, it’s just a great moment to cherish for everyone,” said Jacquese Roller, a Bessemer native who received her associate’s degree in general studies.

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“It feels like the biggest thing on Earth knowing you’ve made so many memories here. To be a part of something that’s everlasting and everyone is here to witness it, it’s great.”

For Roy Ward, a New Orleans, Louisiana native, it was a sad but happy day.

“This day means everything to me. It’s the best day of my life besides my wedding day whenever that happens,” Ward, who earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, said as he waited in line to walk across the stage.

“It’s emotional, but at the same time just seeing everybody come back, it’s like a big funeral but a happy funeral.”

There were nearly 150 graduates in Concordia’s class of 2018. Before each of them walked across the stage, Dr. James Lyons, chief transition officer and interim president, shared a few words of wisdom.

“We love you graduates, and we are happy that you have reached this milestone, and we ask that you go out and continue the vision and help yourself, help your community, help your children, to save the nation and the world,” Lyons said.

Lloyd Probasco, chairman of the board of regents, also shared a few words.

“I look at the graduates, and I say to you, you need to be proud of your achievement,” he said.

“In my lifetime, beyond college, one of the things that has been most meaningful to me is that I have become what many people call a lifelong winner, and I would share with you that your journey is just beginning.”

Nationally known radio host Tom Joyner delivered the commencement speech and gave each student a symbolic gift of $5. He told them each to turn that $5 into more money and to come see him again when they’re rich.

The school announced in February it would close at the end of this semester after going through financial woes. Concordia College Alabama was founded in 1922.

After hearing the news of the school’s closing, many of the students could have given up and closed their textbooks, but they didn’t, and for that, Betty Hubbard, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Research and Planning, is proud of the students.

“I’m extremely proud of these kids. Some of these kids have overcome great hardship. They understand the value of education,” Hubbard said.

“Many of them are parents, and they will pass that on to their kids, and they can make a difference in Selma –– an economic difference, a spiritual difference, a moral difference.”