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

HUDSON, NC (May 12, 2017)…Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute held its annual Adult High School and High School Equivalency graduation exercises on Thursday, May 11, at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. The ceremony honored 94 new graduates.

Larry Taylor, Chairman of CCC&TI’s Board of Trustees, opened the ceremonies with a welcome and spoke briefly about the class of 2017 and its accomplishments. Taylor noted graduates hailed from communities across Caldwell and Watauga counties and ranged in age from 16 to 61.

Margaret Hampson, Vice President, Curriculum and Adult Education, recognized the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Amber Grout. 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. Grout graduated from CCC&TI’s Adult High School Program and completed the college’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Program in 2012. She is currently employed with the Granite Falls Police Department and is working toward a degree in Homeland Security.

CCC&TI’s Special Populations Coordinator Ginny Navarro recognized this year’s Workforce Ready completers. The program, launched in 2016, is a one-year job training certificate program that provides a foundation for transitioning into entry-level jobs or additional course work. Six students earned their Workforce Ready Certificate during the program’s inaugural year. Roy Jennings, Director of CCC&TI’s Automotive Systems Technology Program, helped train the students and offered his congratulations on their achievements. “It was an honor to work with these students and to help develop this new program. We got to see them gain new skills, knowledge and abilities and they all showed great personal growth. Tonight we honor you! Congratulations.”

Kim Hinton, College and Career Readiness Department Chair, 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 this year’s 10 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 included Majesta Albright, Joseph Carlucci, Dennis Hannah, Antonia Navarro and Sierra Vance.

Albright decided early on that CCC&TI’s Adult High School program would be the best fit for her. She started the process in June 2014 and after a couple stops and starts and some encouraging words from several teachers and administrators at CCC&TI, fully committed to the program and to earning her degree. “Lauri Stillwell [CCC&TI’s Director of Academic Readiness and Support] was waiting with open arms. She didn’t literally have her arms open; she just made me feel like I was finally where I belonged,” said Albright. “Nothing was going to stop me now that I realized it took three simple steps: get up, dress up and show up.”

Albright, who is planning to continue her studies at CCC&TI, said that she credits her success to the staff and instructors who supported her throughout the process. “I would have never accomplished getting a high school diploma if it weren’t for the amazing staff at CCC&TI,” she said. “I can only hope and pray that in my next few years of schooling, it will be just as amazing at my experience with the Adult High School program. I will never forget that I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I get up and show up, and you can too, as long as your head is in the game.”

Joseph Carlucci received his High School Equivalency degree during Thursday’s ceremony and said that despite being terrified when he started his classes at CCC&TI, he quickly realized that the program was exactly what he needed. “After starting classes, I realized that the bad grades I received as a child were not because I was not smart, but because I wasn’t dedicated. You cannot gain knowledge from something if you have no interest. Being at Caldwell Community College was exactly what I needed to show myself I can do anything I set my mind to,” said Carlucci. “Nothing is impossible unless you convince yourself it is. Leave here knowing you can do anything.”

Dennis Hannah also earned his High School Equivalency degree at CCC&TI. He said he decided to come back to school after several years on the road as a truck driver. “I traveled to every state in the lower 48 and my kids were growing up without me,” he said. “So I decided to come off the road. Trying to get a job with no high school diploma is hard so I enrolled to get my GED.” Hannah said that despite the difficulty he first encountered, he made it through the program with support of his family and the help of his instructors and advisors at CCC&TI. Hannah plans to continue his studies in CCC&TI’s Automotive Program.

Antonia Navarro, who is originally from Venezuela, came to the United States two years ago. “The tyranny and a hostile communist system put an end to freedom and human rights in my beautiful native country. I arrived here less than two years ago, in order to protect my children’s lives,” she said. Navarro attended classes at CCC&TI’s Family Resource Center in Lenoir and even though her journey had been rough at times, she expressed her gratitude and satisfaction for having completed the goal of earning her high school equivalency degree. “To give a speech in the best country in the world, at my age, and in a different language from the one I learned since I was a child. Truly, I never in my life imagined this,” she said. “It’s incredible, it’s a beautiful dream which has given me not only the satisfaction of meeting a challenge but also an extra benefit: to understand different cultures, to meet wonderful people, to make new friends. This is priceless.”

Sierra Vance also completed her High School Equivalency Degree at CCC&TI’s Family Resource Center in Lenoir, where she brought her two children for preschool programs while she studied for her degree. “Being able to bring my children to class with me made a huge difference. I knew my children were being well taken care of so that I could concentrate on my studying and taking tests,” she said. Vance, who is currently enrolled in CCC&TI’s Cosmetology program, says that the support and the encouragement she received from her family and her instructors while working toward her GED. “You’re not only changing my life, you are changing my family’s life, you are changing my children’s lives. Mommy can say she finished. She went to college. She overcame all the struggles and odds that kept her from finishing high school. I am no longer a ‘drop-out’,” she said. “I am an overcomer.”

CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch presented high school equivalency graduates with their diplomas. Poarch was joined by Superintendent of Caldwell County Schools Dr. Steve Stone to make diploma presentations to Adult High School graduates.

Poarch, who is completing his first year as CCC&TI’s president, 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 2017 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

Pictured are the student speakers for CCC&TI’s Adult High School and High School Equivalency Graduation ceremonies held on Thursday, May 11 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. From left to right are Sierra Vance, Joseph Carlucci, Majesta Albright, Dennis Hannah and Antonia Navarro. The ceremony honored 94 graduates from Caldwell and Watauga Counties.

CCC&TI High School Equivalency Graduates
Caldwell County

Arney, Lory Ellen
Bailey, Michael Wayne
Bare, Iva Shae Carol Grace
Barger, Elijah Andrew
Becker, Jeffrey Nelson
Bell, Dale Clifford
Brittain, Tyler Garrett
Browning, Seth Andrew
Carlucci, Joseph
Chapko, Alexis Makayla
Dierdorf, Zachary Davon
Dula, Brittney Nicole
Endicott, Steven Lee
Gallant, Nicole Eve
Grayson, William James
Hannah, Dennis
Harrison, Nick Eric
Horton, Richard Lawrence
Hubbard, Avery Allen
Huffman, Carol Setzer
Isbell, Joy A.
Johnson, Sarah Kay
Killian, Dakota Shanice
King, Ashley Nicole
Lail, Amanda Christine
Leonard, Cameron Wilder
Lovins, Paul Jacob Douglas
Martinez, Claudia Lorena
McLean, Bridgette Anne
McMichael, Jr., Jeffrey Brian
Minton, Christopher Lee
Navarro, Antonia Heiling
Norris, Teresita Lenora
Owenby, Chad Ryan
Pelkey, Alexis Michelle
Puac Puac, Angela McNeil
Ramsey, Cassidy Campbell
Roark, Stephanie LeAnne
Severtson, Justus Daryl
Sloan, Mary H.
Spitzer, Amber Lynn
Tester, Dixie Octavia
Thompson, Jesus Bravo
Vance, Sierra Michelle
Wares, Jacquelyn Diana
Watson, Charles Tyler
Webb, Stephanie Nicole
Williams, Ashley Dawn
Yearwood, Kurtis James

CCC&TI High School Equivalency Graduates
Watauga County

Church, Brooke Morgan
Cray, Judayah Leland
Cray, Sariyah Faith
Crosby, Heather Darian Elise
Dotro, Dennis Robert
Ellis, Avery Matthew
Enzinna, Joseph Michael
Greene, Ashley Renee
Huerta, Kimberly Sue
Kerley, Korie Nicole
Lord, George Edward
Morgan, Erin Elizabeth
Nagy, Nichola Mary
Norris, Sarah Elizabeth
Ruiz-Rosas, Maria Guadalupe
Shaki, Abraham
Stavig, Cody Alan
Wynn, Cameron David
Yeoman, Harley Nicole

CCC&TI Adult High School Diploma Graduates
Caldwell County

Albright, Majesta Lean *
Anderson, Sierra Denelle
Barrier, Chasidy Danielle
Beck, Brianna Denise
Bodden, Jamie Raelynn
Breedlove, Falon Arvilla
Calhoun, Sophiah Danyelle *
Clark, Kaleb
Clark, Taylor Rae *
Ervin, Malea Grace
Ervin, Nathan Sean
Henry, Christian Lynn *
Jacobs, Tori Briane
Jones, Labreeka Sheree *
Killian, Chloe Anastasia *
Parlier, Kristen Brooke
Richardson, Stephanie Amelia Helen
Russell, Jarrett Eugene *
Shugars, Chantel Marie
Street, Cory Eugene *
Toro, Jonathan Edward
Walker, Makayla Leigh *

CCC&TI Adult High School Diploma Graduates
Watauga County

Chapman, Sierra Nichole
Greene, Melvin Nathaniel
McCullough, Tyler Matthew
Torres-Escobar, Abigail *

* Denotes Honor Graduates

Workforce Readiness Completers

Carlton, Ellis Jordale
Glazebrook, Katherine Tenille
Griffin, Nicholas Riley
Sheets, Stephen Gene
Stepps, Donothan Alonzo
Walker, Grayson Wayne

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