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Halifax Community College (HCC) graduates of the class of 2007 were all smiles Saturday, May 12, as they walked across the stage in The Centre and accepted certificates, diplomas and degrees. Dr. Delores A. Parker, vice president for Academic and Student Services for the North Carolina Community College System gave the commencement address.

"I always enjoy going to commencement, because this is what we strive for. This is the day we all look forward to," said Parker, who gave an overview of HCC's 40-year history and achievements. She also gave an historic perspective of 1967, when HCC was established. "While many things have changed in 40 years, the need to have educated citizens has remained the same."

Parker focused on the theme of "connecting your future to your past." She gave three key points to graduates including staying connected to your family and community, becoming a lifelong learner, and becoming a global citizen.

Identifying with the class, Parker said that she also came from a rural community and was among the first in her family to attend college. Although she has traveled extensively, met several of the country's presidents, has eaten in the best restaurants and stayed in five-star hotels, she explained that, "the most important things that have kept me grounded were my family and the community in which I grew up."

Parker emphasized that graduates would be entering a technology-based workforce that changes daily. "You have been given the best possible education that will allow you to compete in the knowledge-based economy. Tomorrow will always be another day. There will be many challenges and many opportunities," said Parker.

HCC President, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr. recognized recipients of the first-ever Presidential Partnership Award. Cisco Systems, Inc., Halifax Regional Medical Center and PCB Piezotronics were presented the award for commitment and partnership in developing workforce education programs and supporting economic development in the Roanoke Valley.

Griffin also gave the charge to the graduates. "While the ceremony today is called a commencement, which means a beginning, in a very true sense, that's what is means today. It is also, for many of you, a beginning for your life's ambitions and aspirations. If your years of education have been meaningful, then you don't need me to tell you the responsibilities that you have accepted when you accepted those degrees. You don't need me to tell you of the contributions to our society now expected of you and you don't need for me to tell you of the trials and triumphs that await you. You already know that," said Griffin. "Today is both an ending and a beginning. I charge you to lay aside that which is no longer needed and take up those tools which have led you to this place in life."

Graduate Judy Oglesby gave the student response. "None of us are content to let others determine our destiny. It is through determination that we got to this day," said Oglesby. "If you have shared any of my experiences, you're finding that you are a changed person. I am a better woman for having this experience. I'm a better mother, I'm a better friend and I feel that overall I'm a better person because I have finally found the path that's going to lead to my life's purpose."