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CCC&TI Honors Adult High School and High School Equivalency Graduates with Special Ceremony

HUDSON, NC (May 9, 2019) — Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute held its annual Adult High School and High School Equivalency graduation exercises on Thursday, May 9, at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.  The ceremony honored 93 new graduates.

CCC&TI trustee William Stone opened the ceremonies with a welcome and spoke briefly about the class of 2019 and its accomplishments. Stone noted graduates hailed from communities across Caldwell and Watauga counties and ranged in age from 17 to 77.

Following Stone’s welcome, CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch recognized Kim Hinton, Adult Education Director, who is retiring from the college after more than 20 years of service. “She is an advocate of adult education who supports our program at the state level and has worked diligently to give students the resources and access to complete their education goals,” said Poarch.  Poarch presented Hinton with a commemorative award and also announced that adult education faculty and staff made a donation in her honor to “Project Impact Tanzania,” to help provide clean drinking water to villages in East Africa, where Hinton and her husband served as missionaries prior to her time at CCC&TI. 

Hinton then recognized the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Mr. Larry Simonds.  The award recognizes an alumnus or alumnae of the GED/AHS program who epitomizes the philosophy that the AHS or High School Equivalency diploma is a new beginning and who has worked to achieve additional credentials, a career with life sustaining wages, and who is representative of what hard work, persistence and motivation can achieve.  Simonds earned his high school equivalency degree at CCC&TI in 2012 and went on to earn both an Associate in Applied Science in engineering technology and an Associate in Arts in General Education at CCC&TI. Simonds joined CCC&TI’s Learning Resource Center (LRC) staff in 2014. Simonds serves a technician maintaining the LRC’s computers and electronic equipment and serves as a liaison to the IT and Technology Departments on behalf of the library and has also been instrumental in helping bring the college’s Makerspace to fruition. “We are happy that Larry has become an important part of the Caldwell family,” said Hinton. “It was a privilege for us to work with him in adult education and a joy to present him with this year’s Adult Education Distinguished Alumni Award.”

Hinton offered special thanks to the Foundation of CCC&TI for its help covering the cost of GED testing for students. “The Foundation has assisted every graduate on this stage with the cost,” she said.

Hinton also recognized two honor graduates who were distinguished by their gold tassels. Honor graduates must either score above 3,000 on GED tests or maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in Adult High School courses.

Graduate speakers at the event were Selina Bartley, Audra Sue Isenhour, Ahn Pham, Marissa A. Seaman and Jenny Morin.

Pictured are the speakers featured during CCC&TI’s Adult High School/High School Equivalency Graduation ceremony held on Thursday, May 9 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. Pictured from left are Selina Bartley, Sue Isenhour, Jenny Morin, Ahn Pham and Marissa Seaman. The ceremony honored 93 graduates.

Bartley, a mom of two, attended classes at the Family Resource Center in Lenoir.  Bartley shared that she struggles with learning difficulties and credited the Family Literacy Program with helping her obtain her high school equivalency degree and enroll in college courses at CCC&TI. “A few years ago, I never dreamed I would be standing here today, graduating. There were days when I thought I would never reach the levels needed to graduate, but with the support of my friends and teachers, I kept pushing forward,” she said. “Now I have the desire to be and do more. I am working toward a college education that until now, I thought was out of reach.”

Audra Sue Isenhour shared that she had dropped out of high school in her senior year and started a family. Over the years she said she had a variety of jobs and that most of her employers assumed she had a high school degree. Following the passing of her husband, she says she found herself with lots of time on her hands and in need of a purpose. “After much prayer, I decided to finish high school. I walked into the Adult Education wing at CCC&TI and met some of the most encouraging and friendly people. I left that day with lots of information and decided never to return,” she said. “Obviously I went back.” Isenhour shared that she quickly passed the social studies, reading and science tests but hit a roadblock with the math test. “The helpful staff and instructors didn’t give up on me. Thanks to them I am a high school graduate at the age of 71.”

Anh Pham came to the United States two and a half years ago from Vietnam with very little English knowledge. She began classes at the Family Resource Center but said she got discouraged that worried that she could not complete her degree. “Last year I sat in class and watched my classmates who were graduating and thought I would never be like them and graduate,” she said. “Now, one year later, I am graduating and working on my citizenship. To all my fellow students, I hope you realize your potential as I did and graduate as soon as possible.”

Marissa Seaman attended classes on CCC&TI’s Watauga Campus in Boone and shared that she had a great experience in the program. Seaman plans to continue her studies at CCC&TI and to work toward an Associate Degree in art. “I’d like to thank my mom and my teachers for helping me get through this. I appreciate all of you,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without any of you. Thank you.”

Jenny Morin shared that when she was younger, she didn’t think that school was very important and that she didn’t realize the value of education until she was older. “Eventually, it dawned on me that if I wanted to be a successful mother, wife, daughter and woman, I needed to further my education and that is exactly what I did.”  Morin says that there were challenges along way and that she thought about giving up several times. She credits her family and her instructors for encouraging her to continue. “You all knew just what to say to keep us going and never let us give up. You were always our biggest cheerleaders,” said Morin. “Now, I stand in front of you with great pride and a sense of accomplishment. It was all possible with pure determination, love and support.”  

Following the graduate reflections, CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch presented high school equivalency graduates with their diplomas. Poarch was joined by Superintendent of Caldwell County Schools Dr. Don Phipps and Superintendent of Watauga County Schools Dr. Scott Elliott to make diploma presentations to Adult High School graduates from each county.

Poarch encouraged graduates to continue learning and to continue on their paths to success. “Don’t let tonight be the end, let it be the beginning of a journey of life-long learning,” he said. “Every single one of you has the talent and ability to succeed. Be proud and take the time to celebrate but also be willing to take those bold next steps and know that we will be here to support you every step of the way.”

Poarch closed the ceremonies, congratulating graduates for their achievements and bestowing upon them the official rights and privileges associated with their degrees. Amidst the cheers and applause of graduates and audience members, Poarch had graduates ceremoniously turn their tassels to indicate their official graduate status.

A reception in honor of the Class of 2019 was held following the ceremony.

For more information on CCC&TI’s Adult High School and High School Equivalency Programs, call 828-726-2230 (Caldwell) or 828-297-5253 (Watauga) or visit www.cccti.edu


CC&TI High School Equivalency Graduates
Caldwell County

Zenas Seth Adkins
Tabitha Michelle Baldwin
Amber Nicole Barker
Selina Marie Bartley
Joseph Ernest Berry
Logan Gabriel Branson
Sarah Elizabeth Browning
Faith Ann Clark
Robert Charles Cooper
Benjamin Scott Crofts
Joshua Eugene Davis
Christopher Charles Decenzo
Gabriela Abigail Donaire
Bobby Joe Ely, Jr.
Sergio Espinoza
Jason Joel Farmer
LaShawn Dawayne Fox
Angela Marie Gatch
Austin Jacob-Johnson Gilbert
Hunter James Gill
Dakota Tyler Greer
Kurt Gregory Harris
Joseph Neal Hinson
Natasha Leann Hinson
Darion LeAnne Hoyle
Audra Sue Isenhour
Nathan Bradford Johnson
Blondia Dula Jones
Norma Jean Killian
Julian Dean Lowman
David Keith Marley
Christopher Lee Massagee
Joseph T. McKinney
Dawson Lee McQueen
Simon Chavez Mejia
Jessica Triplett Messer
Michael Gideon Miller
Micheal Lee Minton
Jenny Lou Morin
Christy Gail Mudd
Joshua Adam Nance
Thinh Thi My Nguyen
Haley May Parker
Dylan Stewart Parks
Shandee Elaine Patton
Michael Adam Peele
Anh Ngoc Pham
Mary Elizabeth Phillips
Jess Wentz Poore
Gary Allen Reid
Jake Brian Rhoney
Betty J. Saldana
Richard Hunter Scarborough
Sonie Renae Sellars
Diana Lynn Sloan
Amber Dianne Smith
Michael Morgan Soesbee
Landon Ray Taylor
Rashid A. Thomas
Cory Michael Triplett
Lucinda Ann Turnmire
Derek Robert Underwood
Lindsey Danielle Vazquez
Roy E. Woodruff

CCC&TI High School Equivalency Graduates
Watauga County

Nathan Elisceo Adams
Ryan Eric Blackstock
Cody Scot Brown
Gabriella Ann Burshiem
Elizabeth Elias Hernandez
Robert Antero Eloranta
Skye Ashlyn-Colleen Flynn
Nathaniel John Greene
Kelly Nicole Moreno Rancano
Sarai Oliva Cabrera
Marissa A. Seaman
Nathan Daniel Shepard
Jered Ryan Townsend
Jessica Harmon Worley

CCC&TI Adult High School Diploma Graduates
Caldwell County

Nicklaus Keith Drake Barnhill
Justin Franklin Davis
Brooklyn Irene Dula
Kolby McKinnley Eller
Melody May Harper
Madison Avery Henson
Brenno Teixeira Moreira*
Amber Lynn Pyatte*
Jaime Januaria Solis
Connor Bryson Taylor

CCC&TI Adult High School Diploma Graduates
Watauga County

Hannah Leanne Corley
Olivia Grace Horton
Kenneth Michael McKillip

* Denotes Honor Graduates