It was boisterous. It was spirited. It was lively. It was the Adult Basic Education graduation at Spokane Community College.
For the first time in three years, hundreds gathered Tuesday evening at the college’s Walter S. Johnson Sports Complex gym, where over 100 graduating students celebrated with their friends, family and children – some of whom walked the stage alongside their parents.
The ceremony began with remarks from SCC President Kevin Brockbank and Mike Wilson, Vice Chair of the Community Colleges of Spokane Board of Trustees.
It then moved into speeches by graduating students, each representing a cohort from ABE programs, such as English as a Second Language (ESL), High School+ and those who earned General Educational Development (GED) diplomas.
Claire Furaha, who emigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, spoke on behalf of her fellow ESL students, saying her educational journey has been full of ups and downs.
“When I came here, I had no friends and I couldn’t speak English,” she said from the stage. “I felt homesick.”
But through connections she made with teachers and friends in the program, her social circle widened considerably, changing her professional outlook and future goals.
“I’m very happy,” said the mother of five, who is headed into SCC’s medical assistant program. “Overjoyed.”
After further remarks from speakers Chelsea Victoria, who earned her high school diploma, and Darin Brill, who earned his GED diploma, the degrees were conferred.
As each student’s name was read aloud and they walked the stage to grab their degree, somewhere in the crowd a group was sure to erupt in energetic cheers.
High School+ student Rena Cramer, 58, was presented her diploma alongside her two grandkids Layla and Nicka clinging to her sides, as the rest of her family applauded nearby.
Cramer said it was important they all be there for that moment.
“I’m excited it’s over,” she said, adding that she’s soon headed into SCC’s accounting program. “It’s been a long time. A very long time.”
Fellow High School+ student Austin Glover, 23, also earned his diploma. As students and family gathered outside while the festivities ended, he stood quietly near his fiancé, aunt and small children.
While what’s next is surely fraught with uncertainty, he said the plan is to deal cards at the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights – a prospect that would have seemed impossible before tonight.
“This means a lot,” he said. “I’m just excited."