Watt Whitmare, 19, and Charles Marshall, 44, graduated Thursday from the Tompkins Cortland Community College, Whitmare with a degree in construction and environmental technology and Marshall with a degree in human services.
And now their lives will take very different directions.
“I’m going to work in the electrician’s union,” Whitmare said.
“I’m staying on another year for an additional degree in chemical dependency,” Marshall said.
TC3 held its 48th commencement ceremony, where students like Whitmare and Marshall earned their associate degrees.
The TC3 graduating body, as pointed out by President Carl Haynes, featured people from all walks of life.
Six-hundred and twenty-four students received their degrees on Thursday, with the youngest graduate being 18 and the oldest being 60. Students represented states like Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania, and countries like China, Italy, Ethiopia, Haiti, Taiwan, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Kenya and Gambia. Some of the students were parents and their children, spouses, or children of faculty.
It was also the last commencement for Haynes, as he is stepping down from his position. He has been part of TC3 for the past 47 years, being the college president for the past 23 years.
Elizabeth Burns, chair of the TC3 Board of Trustees, read off a list of achievements made by the college during Haynes’ years as president. The college built on-campus housing. Solar panels were installed to provide electricity. The TC3 farm program was added, providing a farm-to-bistro experience with the college’s Coltivare Restaurant in Ithaca. And TC3 developed a global program unlike any other community college in the country.
In a break from tradition, where a notable alumnus would give the commencement address, Haynes delivered the speech. The main component he brought up was a concept called, “The TC3 DNA,” something that transforms the lives of the students.
“This DNA is passed on through you, our graduates, in ways that are extraordinarily compelling and immeasurable,” Haynes said. “The seeds of greatness are in each of you, and ready to manifest in your respective life’s journeys.”