In 2020, Courtney Crell graduated from Avon High School, and a year later she was among the 1,854 Lorain County Community College graduates who were honored at the virtual graduation commencement today.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Ph.D., and LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., applauded the new graduates for persevering through life and school despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Your stories have brightened LCCC’s historically radiant campus, your contributions will enhance that legacy, and that legacy is Lorain County,” Cardona said during the virtual ceremony. “In many ways, you’re not just joining a proud LCCC legacy, you’re joining the proud legacy of community college graduates nationwide, who’ve improved their own lives and opened doors to new opportunities with a community college education.”
Ballinger commented, “One of my favorite things about Lorain County Community College is the strength and determination of our students. You are all an inspiration to me, to each other, and to our community. All of you have shown true resilience. When the pandemic began in 2020 and it turned our lives upside down, you made the bold choice to continue forward with your education. Faced with challenges, you chose to see the opportunity before you. In an era of rapid change, you have remained focused on your future and you completed your degree.”
About 2,234 two-year degrees and certificates were awarded. Included in that number were 365 University Partnership graduates, which is the largest class in the UP’s 25-year history.
Ohio Chancellor Randy Gardner delivered the keynote address at the commencement.
Crell has been working on her LCCC classes since she was in high school through the college’s College Credit Plus program, and now she is celebrating the completion of her Associates of Arts degree.
Crell said, “I’m going to be transferring to the University of Miami in about two years, I’ll have my Bachelors in English. I would recommend [the CCP program] to anyone that’s thinking about it. It not only helped me with my studies, but it also taught me independence and accountability.”
In honor of the graduating class of 2021, LCCC installed an innovative tribute that celebrates each student’s resilient journey to become a college graduate. Twenty-one full-sized doors line a grassy median stretching nearly 450 feet — longer than a football field. Every propped-open door bears a different word, symbolizing the unique journey each LCCC student took to reach graduation day. By walking through the door, students not only found the right opportunity on LCCC’s campus but the support and confidence to lead them into the next chapter of their lives.
Every door includes an augmented reality video that shares the personal story of a graduate from each academic program. These 21 custom videos feature 25 members of the class of 2021 who appear to enter their door in unique ways when viewers scan a QR code on every door.
“The Doors of Opportunity honor the courage the class of 2021 demonstrated to achieve their academic goals,” Ballinger said.