BRTC Spring commencement exercises were held the evening of May 8 in the Randolph County Development Center to recognize 329 graduates, according to Martha Nelson, VP for Student Affairs.
Degrees were conferred by BRTC President Dr. Wayne Hatcher and awarded by Dr. Roger Johnson, VP for General Education, and Angie Caldwell, VP for Technical Education. The degrees awarded included two-year Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees, as well as one-year Certificates, and one-semester Certificates of Proficiency.
Dr. Chuck Welch, Arkansas State University System President, served as keynote speaker for the ceremony. The Jonesboro native has emerged as one of the state’s leading advocates for higher education and is noted as being the youngest person to ever serve as president or chancellor of an Arkansas community college, the youngest university president in Arkansas, and one of the youngest college presidents in the United States. He is chairman of the board of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities as well as co-chair of the executive council of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and he is past president of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges.
Dr. Welch shared his experience of being a first-generation college student and the first member of either side of his family to receive a graduate degree. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Arkansas, where he served as president of the student body. He received a Master of Arts degree in Political Management from George Washington University and a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. In sharing wisdom and inspiration from Martin Luther King, he told the graduating students that this is the first step in continuing their life-long learning.
Danyelle Odom of Doniphan, MO, graduate candidate for the Associate of Arts in General Education degree, served as Graduate Candidate Spokesperson. She acknowledged and praised the tremendous support she received from family and friends through her journey, in addition to thanking the BRTC faculty and staff for their impact.
Odom talked about the different emotions felt on this special occasion, but the one emotion shared among all of the graduates is pride. “We all have a reason to be proud,” said Odom. “We are such a diverse group and we each have our own personal story, but we all have one thing in common—SUCCESS!”