Edison State honors class of 2020, class of 2021

Staff report

PIQUA — Edison State Community College recognized the achievements of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 during its commencement ceremony, held Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.

This commencement was particularly special. During her opening address, Edison State President Dr. Doreen Larson said the event marked “the reinstatement of communities gathering to recognize the achievement of graduates, and also the opportunity to thank all of those who have worked side by side with students to help them achieve their goals in the midst of unique and ongoing challenges.”

Recent graduates completed their degrees and certificates under unprecedented circumstances. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they showed resilience and determination to continue their studies while adapting to the rapid changes put into place to address the pandemic. That resilience helped them open new doors of opportunity.

“Your lives and the lives of your family are forever changed for the better,” said Dr. Larson. “Good jobs, special scholarships, further education, and other opportunities available only to college completers will now be open to our graduates.”

The commencement ceremony included a student keynote speaker, Devan O’Connell of Sidney, Ohio. O’Connell is President of the Edison State Student Senate and an Anna High School Class of 2019 graduate.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Devan over his past years of service, and he has been instrumental in creating many opportunities for Edison State students — opportunities to socialize, network, relax, and experience new things,” Dr. Larson said of O’Connell.

O’Connell began his speech by commending graduates for their perseverance and resilience. “Fellow graduates: We made it,” he said. “These past two years have made this group of graduates some of the toughest individuals out there. We can now handle anything that life throws at us.”

“Life gave us lemons, and we took those lemons and squirted them back into life’s eyes,” O’Connell continued, receiving laughter from the crowd. “We told life we didn’t want their lemons and demanded to see life’s manager. Then we demanded a refund for those lemons that life gave us. What other classes can say they did that?”

“The degree you’ll receive today is a ticket to change the world. We put in the work, and it’s our time to shine and our turn to be recognized. Don’t forget where you came from. We did this for our generation, for our future, and for our success. Today, we are crossing the threshold into a new chapter of our lives. We carried on despite the limitations COVID-19 put on us. What a time to be alive and heading into the world changed by the past few years, to become leaders of our generation. This is not the end. This is just the beginning.”

The Class of 2020 includes 380 graduates earning 421 degrees and certificates, while the Class of 2021 includes 540 graduates earning 880 degrees and certificates. Degrees and certificates completed include those in career and transfer programs such as arts, business, communication, engineering and manufacturing, health sciences, humanities, information technology, mathematics, science, and social and public services.

For more information on Edison State Community College, visit us online at www.edisonohio.edu.