On to the next chapter

Durham Tech conferred degrees Wednesday
May. 29, 2013 @ 09:55 PM

More than 1,000 graduates of Durham Technical Community College celebrated the end of “a long, tough slog” during commencement ceremonies held Wednesday at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Keynote speaker Michael J. Denning, a District Court judge in Wake County, and an alumnus of Durham Tech, urged the graduates to remember the friends, teachers and family members who helped them achieve their degrees. Denning got his undergraduate degree in English from UNC Chapel Hill and his law degree from Campbell University. He did not achieve those degrees alone, but with the help of family, friends and teachers. “They’re just as much a part of your education as what’s going to be on your diplomas,” Denning said.

“Congratulations,” he said to the 2013 graduates. “You had a long, tough slog.”

William G. Ingram, president of Durham Technical Community College, praised the students for juggling the “challenges of life” and studying. “Through hard work … [the students] have transformed their lives and are prepared for a more prosperous future,” Ingram said.

The school conferred more than 900 associate degrees, diplomas and certificates. More than 175 graduates were honored for completing their General Equivalency Diplomas or the Adult High School Diploma program.

Nicole James received her associate degree in the field of Occupational Therapy Assistant. She hopes to work soon in the pediatric field. Wanjee Streeter was receiving her degree in Business Administration with a certificate in Human Resources. Her next step is to try to get a job at Duke University or UNC in Human Resources.

Lamont Commodore left high school in 1988 and was getting his GED Wednesday. Going back to school was hard, but worth the effort, he said. Commodore plans to return to his hometown of Baltimore and get more training to be an electrician.

Johnathan Lorbacher was getting his GED, and said he plans to stay at Durham Tech to major in business and then transfer to a four-year college. Lorbacher has been in the TROSA program (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers Inc.).

“My life was messed up. Now, I’m all about trying to change it. I’m motivated,” Lorbacher said.

Jerry Wilson, a staff member with TROSA, also received his GED at Wednesday’s commencement. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school,” said Wilson, 47. Getting the GED took him about five years, and his motivation to complete the work came from wanting to be on TROSA’s staff, he said.

“I never gave up,” he said.

Denning praised Durham Tech for helping him learn to think critically and try to find answers to problems. For those graduates who might be anxious about going on to UNC or some other college or university, and who might wonder if they belong there, “the answer to all of those questions is a resounding yes,” Denning said.

What they have learned at Durham Tech gives them all they need to succeed in school and work, he said.