Kami Maxwell of Odin and Ambonirina Nathanael Razafindrabe of Antananarvio, Madagascar were named Barton Community College’s 2015 Outstanding Graduates. Dean of Student Services Angie Maddy introduced them and presented their awards, after which they took the opportunity to address their fellow graduates during the college’s 45th commencement ceremony Friday.
Maxwell is the daughter of Kim and Jim Maxwell. During her Barton career, she has served as a student ambassador, worked for the Central Kansas Upward Bound program, and participated in Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society serving this year as Social Committee Co-Chair. She will transfer to Fort Hays State University where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Maxwell encouraged her classmates to view the commencement ceremony not as the end, but the beginning.
“Our journey started at Barton Community College, but it doesn’t stop here,” she said. “I challenge each of you to wake up in the morning and remember where you’ve been, but most importantly, remind yourself where you’re going.”
Razafindrabe is the son of Aurore and Samuel Razafindrabe. While at Barton, he has written for the student newspaper, worked as a student employee in the Child Development Center and participated in Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. He will transfer to Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, and after his education, he plans to return to Madagascar to work. His goals include becoming a dentist and being a defender of peace.
He shared his broad world view and perspective as a global traveler. Razafindrabe told a story about a journey he and his cousin took to deliver schoolbooks and perform community service to villages in Madagascar. The two young men carried 50 pounds of items on a stick and 40 pounds on his back for two and a half days with nothing more to eat than peanuts and rice.
“I was skinny, hungry most of the day and tired. But what was surprising is that I was happy, truly happy,” he said. “All those smile and happiness around made me happy. After a week experiencing the joy of giving, I changed my definition of happiness and success.”
He encouraged his classmates to focus their energy into a long-lasting world solution to war and poverty, stating that 17,000 children are still suffering from starvation, which as been reduced from 40,000.
“You may say, ‘but I am not wealthy, or I’m just a nobody,’” he said. “But ... you have more power than you might think. ... You are not the future anymore. From this day on you are the present. The future lies in the children. You are the world’s best shot to make it right.”