ELYRIA — Before more than 1,300 graduates received diplomas and certificates from Lorain County Community College, college President Roy Church took Saturday’s commencement ceremony as an opportunity to remind the graduates to stay put.
Not stay in the same place in their college career.
But remain in Lorain County.
“I hope you’ll stick around to see what this place has to offer and better still, what you have to offer it,” he said.
Keynote speaker Robert W. Briggs, president of the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, echoed the sentiment.
“If any of you are considering leaving Northeast Ohio for pastures that you think might be greener, I strongly urge you to reconsider,” he said. “Why? Because our region, Northeast Ohio, is experiencing the greatest economic and cultural renaissance since the beginning of the last century. Stay here, stay tuned and be a part of it.”
It has long been reported that Ohio suffers from a “brain drain” — young college-educated adults leave Ohio for job opportunities in other cities or states after graduating.
According to U.S. Census data released last year that examined population shifts in the state between 2010 and 2012, Ohio slowly is regaining its young-adult population. After years of sliding, there was a 2 percent population increase during that time.
“If you have a good sense of what you love to do and what you can be good at, you can generally find a role that someone is willing to pay you to do,” Church said. “With the skills and education you have accumulated here at Lorain County Community College, you are all prepared to get started. You may not qualify to be hired for the perfect job that you would love, but you can get started by taking the first related job for which someone is willing to pay you.”
Crystal Morgan, student senate president, wants nursing to be that path.
The mother of two, who completed the state nurse assistant program, is working toward her registered nurse certificate. She will join the college’s University Partnership program through the University of Akron to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
She has promised her 16-year-old daughter, Jasmine, that in two years when the Early College High School student walks across the stage to receive her degree, Mom will be right there getting her four-year degree.
“I challenge each one of you to go fulfill promises within you, be a blessing serving the community and be steadfast in your life’s purpose by applying your skills that are continuously being perfected every day,” she said.
The graduates are ready to succeed. “I graduated from high school a year early in New York and then my family moved to Ohio,” said Emily Kiesel. “Jumping into college a year early in a new state was difficult for me. I had to learn to use the resources around me to succeed in a new environment.”
Kiesel earned an associate’s degree. She plans to transfer to Cleveland State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in education.
Navy veteran Meletha Glover earned an associate’s degree in human resources management in 2013, a business administration degree in 2013 and Saturday walked away with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kent State University through LCCC’s University Partnership.
“My four years at LCCC and the University Partnership were positive and exciting,” she said. “The instructors were very knowledgeable in their field of studies and I learned a lot. The work was very challenging at times, but the reward in the end is worth it.”