The Class of 2018 received a pat on the back for their considerable achievements, then got a gentle nudge from behind to remind them of everything that’s left for them to accomplish.
“You deserve all the honors and accolades bestowed upon you tonight,” LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams told the graduating seniors of Lenoir County Early College High School at Thursday night’s commencement, “but I would be remiss if I didn’t challenge you tonight – challenge you not to let this be the end of anything. Let’s don’t put up the flag and say ‘finished.’”
For this class – the largest group of graduates in Early College’s 10-year history – the superintendent’s message was more reminder than admonition. Slowing down doesn’t appear to be in these seniors’ plans.
Of the 56 graduates, 43 also earned either an associate degree or occupation certification from Lenoir Community College. Sixteen of those acquired both their high school diploma and associate degree in four years, instead of the five years that was previously the norm at Early College.
Twenty-six members of the class are moving on to a four-year college, where most will enter as juniors. Eight will attend community college, three have joined the military and 18 plan to enter the workforce.
Twenty-three seniors were recognized as honor graduates. The class has, to date, accumulated more than $300,000 in scholarships, according to principal Diane Heath.
Heath honored graduates for their commitment “to making this community a better place than they found it” and, in confirming their commitment to learning, listed the colleges and universities they will attend in a few months – among them, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, East Carolina University, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, North Carolina A&T, Campbell University, West Carolina University and Delaware State University.
Heather Faulkner of La Grange, who earned her diploma and an associate of science degree in four years at Early College, is heading to Campbell to major in clinical research and pursue a pharmacy degree.
Chosen along with classmate Kelsey Kennedy as commencement speakers because of their academic standing, Faulkner reminded fellow graduates they learned as much about themselves as they did about subject matter while at the school.
“The most important lesson I learned here was to never give up and to follow my dreams,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I thought I wouldn’t make it. I began to wonder if it was all worth the time and the effort, but with the support of my family, friends and the Early College, I pushed away every doubt and persevered. This lesson has taught me to follow my dreams and never think any goal is too big to obtain.”
Honor graduates of the Class of 2018 are:
Cum Laude (3.5-3.69 GPA): Keyanis Demari Best and Sarah May Miller
Magna Cum Laude (3.7-3.99 GPA): Jannese Anne Cotton, Gabriel Mason Davis, Madison Raleigh Hill, Katlyn Elizabeth Humphrey, Hannah Elizabeth Lassiter, Jayla Michelle Moore, Lizeth Rodriguez-Servin and Gintiana Zamea Williams.
Summa Cum Laude (4.0-5.0 GPA): Nora Elizabeth Askew, Faith Lynette Cobb, Heather Danielle Faulkner, Ana Margarita Garcia Mendez, Keri Joanna Goff, Kylee Jordan Donaldson, Kelsey Nicole Kennedy, Emily Nicole Leonard, Alyssa Ann McCall, Mackenzie Lee Padgett, Steven Segura-Martell, Karla Iriabeth Torres and India Monet Washington.
India Washington was also recognized as a 2018 Carolina Covenant Scholar, a financial assistance program at UNC valued at $100,000 over four years and structured to allow the student scholar to obtain a degree with acquiring student debt.
(A Facebook photo album from graduation is here.)