Special to the Collegian

The coronavirus-related restrictions didn’t stop Lorain County Community College from celebrating the accomplishments of its largest graduating class in the college’s 57 year history on May 16. The college honored the Class of 2020 via social media.  With 2,510 degrees and certificates being earned by 1,918 graduates and another 260 students earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees through LCCC’s University Partnership, the LCCC Class of 2020 is historic for a number of reasons.  Included in this year’s class are 125 high school students that are earning both a high school diploma and associate degrees through the Early College High School and College Credit Plus programs.

“In more ways than they might realize, this class is history in the making. These times are unprecedented, but so are our graduates’ innovative thinking, determination, and potential,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. at the Commencement that was streamed on social media platforms. “I’ve always known LCCC students have grit and perseverance, but in the past two months our new graduates have demonstrated extraordinary determination and commitment to continue their education and achieve their goal of graduation.”

LCCC previously announced that due to the COVID-19 health crisis preventing mass gatherings the college was forced to cancel its in-person commencement ceremony originally scheduled for May 16.  That date will now be the launch for a two-week tribute and celebration of the class of 2020.  It will begin Saturday, May 16 with a virtual ceremony on LCCC’s Facebook page as a premiere event at 9:30 a.m. – the date and time of the originally scheduled in-person commencement.  The online ceremony featuring theme of “Perseverance” will pay tribute to the class of 2020 with video messages along with keynote addresses from Student Senate President Udell Holmes and Dr. Ballinger. The video can been seen with the following link: https://www.facebook.com/lorainccc/videos/712054356231953

To provide an opportunity for graduates to join in the celebration, the college has sent graduates their regalia and asked them to submit a photo and message to their families, which will be shown during the online ceremony. Many graduates are decorating their caps for the ceremony and are encouraged to share photos of the completed caps on social media. 

While graduates decorate their caps, the LCCC’s team is creating an outdoor public recognition display that Dr. Ballinger hopes will make this year’s ceremony even more special. 

LCCC’s commencement team designed the tribute that will be comprised of thousands of marking flags forming the shape of a graduation cap on the Elyria campus. The graduation cap display will span 351 feet by 279 feet.  The symbolic display celebrates this year’s graduates, as well as all grads since 1964, which marked LCCC’s first graduating class. The 47,000 marking flags each represent an LCCC graduate.  One square, identified by yellow flags, represents the end of the tassel within the design and has an additional 2,185 flags – one flag for each graduate of the class of 2020. Boards located near the display list the names of the Class of 2020 to further recognize their accomplishments.  The display will remain up until June 1 and allow the opportunity for graduates to drive by and take a photo.

“The spirit behind this display is to show our graduates, their friends and families, and our entire community that while we are celebrating this milestone occasion physically apart, the class of 2020 is united as LCCC graduates today and alumni forever,” Dr. Ballinger said.  

Udell Holmes, LCCC Student Senate president and 2020 graduate, plans to share his own message of enthusiasm with his fellow graduates during the non-traditional ceremony. The Lorain resident will be graduating from the college’s University Partnership program with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cleveland State University. Once he finishes graduate school, Holmes plans to become a clinical psychologist. 

“It seems that our lives are constantly flooded with news of the coronavirus and it can be a bit overwhelming,” Holmes said. “But I choose to focus on the positive things that helped us earn our degrees – the family members who found creative ways to celebrate our birthdays, the phone calls from friends that kept us sane, and the professors who showed us compassion and understanding when we needed it the most.”   

LCCC plans to continue celebrating the class of 2020 throughout the month of May through a social media campaign that will highlight graduates’ stories along with videos as a way to share with the community the impact LCCC graduates are already having on our community. 

With this year’s graduating class, LCCC is 34 percent of the way toward its goal of 10,000 degrees of impact, the core focus of LCCC’s strategic plan, Vision 2025. Vision 2025 aims to raise educational attainment to improve the lives and economic status of individuals and their families, while fueling the economy to thrive and building stronger communities.

For more information on LCCC, visitwww.lorainccc.edu/graduation.