Graduates of Barton Community College know as well as anyone, many of life’s lessons aren’t learned in a classroom. As they attended Barton’s commencement ceremonies Thursday in the BCC Gymnasium, students were reminded to use what they’ve learned and to remain lifelong learners.
Andy Tompkins, the president and chief executive officers of the Kansas Board of Regents, was the keynote speaker. He quoted Thomas Jefferson on the importance of education: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be."
"Graduates, you must decide how you will move forward to realize the return on your investment," Tompkins said. He encouraged them to develop the following traits of successful people: a positive attitude, the kind of humility in which people "learn from and serve others as you try to improve yourselves," and integrity. "Aspire to have a respect for others," Tompkins said.
"Graduates, you are the strength of Kansas and the strength of our nation," he said, noting they are also the future. "I’m inspired by the future I see today."
The 2011 Outstanding Students Jared Marcuson and Will Hodges also addressed the graduates, and both stressed involvement as well as academics.
Marcuson said he once considered himself "a one-man wolf pack," until getting involved at Barton. Since then, "my wolf pack grew by a few hundred," he said. "After I got involved in activities, I feel I truly got involved in the Barton experience."
Hodges also urged graduates to stay involved and "keep with your passion."
"My first semester here at Barton was spent with my nose in the books," he said. Another story posted today on the Great Bend Tribune website lists some of the two students' activities at Barton.
Dr. Paul Maneth, chairman of the BCC Board of Trustees, conferred the degrees. There was a total of 599 degrees and certificates earned since the summer of 2010.