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Central Carolina Community College adult graduates celebrate success

By Katherine McDonald
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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Sanford, NC — Success tastes very sweet — just ask members of the latest graduating class of Central Carolina Community College’s Adult High School and General Educational Development programs.

“I’m from a low-income family,” said Kiante Fox of Lee County, one of three student speakers and an honor graduate. “I got my GED, and I’m currently enrolled in CCCC’s mechanical engineering program. I plan to get my associate degree and then go on and earn a bachelor’s.”

Fox paused for a moment, then added, “My family said it would be very hard for me to go to college. Well, I’m in college, so I guess I proved them wrong.”

Applause and whistles greeted Fox’s comments during the AHS-GED commencement exercises Thursday, Jan. 19, in the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. Most of the graduates had overcome some challenge to achieve their goal of earning a high school or GED diploma and, like Fox, most planned to continue their education.

Cheers and shouts of graduates’ names or expressions such as, “You go, girl!” greeted the graduating class members as they crossed the stage and received their diplomas from CCCC President Bud Marchant and CCCC Board of Trustees Chairman Julian Philpott.

“You have made a great start on a great future,” Marchant said. “There’s no reason to stop now.”

He urged them to continue their education at the college. To encourage that, the CCCC Foundation provided each of the graduates with a voucher to enroll in a three-credit college course for free. Many planned to take advantage of that.

Student speaker Anna Elizabeth Umberger, of Chatham County, said she felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her in earning her GED. She had been a home-schooled high school student in Florida but never gotten her diploma. Instead, she went on a mission trip to Honduras that lasted five years.

“When I got back, I knew I needed to get my GED and get on with my education, but I didn’t feel confident,” she told the gathering. “The instructors at CCCC made me feel that I could do it.”

Umberger shared what she described as the “biggest lessons” she has learned from her work in Honduras and in earning her GED: “Appreciate the opportunities for education we have in the United States. Go after your dream, and don’t let fear stop you. Never, ever let fear control your life.”

A total of 238 adults completed their high school or GED studies this semester at one of the college’s adult education centers in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties. Approximately 100 attended the graduation ceremony.

Student speaker Elizabeth Pearl Covington, a Harnett County mother of three, said she decided to go back to school for her high school diploma to make a difference in her life and those of her children.

“Going to school was the best decision I ever made,” she said with a big smile. She added proudly that her daughter graduated from CCCC in 2008.

Cole Jackson Stith, a Chatham honors graduate, served as the commencement mace-bearer, leading the graduates and faculty into the ceremony. Christina Tanelle Wright, a 2008 AHS graduate, opened the event with the singing of the national anthem.

CCCC President Bud Marchant announced four scholarship awards. CCCC Foundation scholarships went to Tina Marie Wall, of Chatham County; Ricky William Blackmon, of Harnett County; and Kiante Fox, of Lee County. Christopher Jermaine Farrar, of Chatham County, received the W.B. Wicker Memorial Scholarship.

Members of the graduating class were recognized for excelling academically. Five maintained a 94-plus grade point average in their Adult High School studies and 25 scored 3000+ on their GED examinations.

Thirty-nine of the graduates also earned a Career Readiness Certificate in addition to their diplomas. The CRC is a portable skills credential that a job seeker or worker can show to a prospective or current employer. It certifies the level of competence in the foundational workplace skills of reading, math and information location.

Twins Jessica and Kimberly Hodges of Lee County received their high school diplomas at the event. Both now plan to continue their education at the college, majoring in cosmetology.

Kimberly had one word for what she and her sister have accomplished and the future that has opened to them: “Amazing,” she said with a big smile.

Many family members were on hand to celebrate with their graduates. Margery Eastman of Harnett County had her four children, eight grandchildren and sister cheering her for earning her GED.

“I always wanted to do it, and I finally did it,” she said. “I want my grandchildren to know that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”

Miguel Olvera of Chatham County got a big hug from his wife, Ereniva, following the exercises, where he received his GED.

“It feels very good,” he said. “Now, I would like to continue my education.”

Seeking a better life through education runs in the family. Ereniva is also in school, a student in the college’s English as a Second Language program at its Siler City Center.

CCCC’s College and Career Readiness Department offers the high school and GED diploma programs. For more information, visit the college’s web site,, or call the College and Career Readiness locations listed at

Read more: Sanford Herald - Adult graduates celebrate success

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Central Carolina Community College adult graduates celebrate success
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