Record numbers fill audience and stage for CNCC graduation | CraigDailyPress.com

Record numbers fill audience and stage for CNCC graduation

— Colorado Northwestern Community College graduates and their families filled the Colorado Room on the Rangely campus like never before for the May 9 graduation ceremony.

"I counted the chairs and there was somewhere around 990, and I thought, 'Okay, something's happening,'" said CNCC President Russell George. "We have more graduates in both degrees and certificates than we've had in a long time."

The college had 112 students walk in the graduation ceremony, with a total of 164 spring graduates receiving degrees — including associates of science, applied science or arts — and certificates in programs such as cosmetology, automotive technician and massage therapy.

"To me, the people that are the most moving are the ones that never thought they could possibly achieve a certificate," said CNCC Director of Marketing Jeff Stoddard. "There were a couple people that came across the stage in tears because they were in awe… the look of pride and accomplishment on those faces…"

One graduate, Katie Bohne, had more than just her accomplishment to bring tears to her eyes on graduation day. Prior to walking across the stage to collect her occupational certificate in cosmetology, she attended her grandmother's funeral.

"It was emotional all the way around. She was a very special lady," Bohne said. "She was definitely a big part of me getting through this (program)."

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Bohne also celebrated her 18th birthday just a few days prior, and is one of only a few students this year to receive a certificate or degree from CNCC and a high school diploma within the same month.

She received her diploma at the Northwest Colorado Homeschool Association graduation ceremony Friday, but she was able to take advantage of the dual enrollment program with CNCC as an enrolled student of Moffat County High School.

"We found out I just had to pay for one semester of the cosmetology program through dual enrollment," Bohne said. "It was such a blessing for me because I had to pay for it myself."

Bohne started the one-year program in summer of 2014, and the high school paid for her to attend both the fall and spring semesters.

The newly minted cosmetologist said she plans to work at her mom's salon, House of Style, providing services from haircuts to manicures to skin care, her personal passion.

"The program that we have at CNCC, let alone that we have one of the best, state-of-the-art salons within a couple hundred miles, the instructors care so much about how you do in the courses," Bohne said. "They just know what they're doing and they're just amazing… You pretty much can't fail in this course if you're willing to do the work."

Another star program on the CNCC Craig campus is nursing, which graduated 24 students this year.

Regina Powell, a single mother, was among them.

"Nursing school is hard anyway, but then doing it as a single mom and not having family here, it was definitely a challenge," Powell said. "Being an adult learner, I have a whole life outside of school. They're really understanding and they try to work with you. You really get a lot of personal attention and they care about you as a student."

The nursing program graduates held a pinning ceremony May 8, the day before graduation, where family members and key supporters were invited to pin the new nurse according to tradition. Powell asked her two sons, Steven, 10, and Bennett, 7, to do the honors.

"They sacrificed just as much as I did. They had to go to the neighbors at 5 in morning so I could go to clinicals," Powell said. "It's a big accomplishment for all of us. It's good for them to see that if you work so hard and you really want something, that you can accomplish it."

Powell came to Craig from Colorado Springs with her boys specifically to attend CNCC's nursing program. She began her first job as a nurse the Monday following graduation at the Moffat Family Clinic, and hopes to eventually specialize in hospice care.

"I remember before I started, I said, 'You know what, if I can go to nursing school with two boys and get through nursing school, I can do anything,'" Powell said. "And now that I've done it, I really do feel it's such an accomplishment."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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