‘If someone is thinking about school, don’t wait on it’

Local veteran is MCC’s ‘Most Distinguished Graduate’

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published December 26, 2016


MACOMB COUNTY — Sterling Heights resident Donald DeVolder is the first to admit he wasn’t always an academic.

Test taking and completing homework assignments weren’t exactly his forte.

But the 35-year-old definitely had it in him, and he proved his collegiate abilities by being named the Most Distinguished Graduate for the fall semester at Macomb Community College.

“I was quite shocked and excited,” DeVolder said. “I just kind of stood there for a moment.”

Along with the Most Distinguished Graduate honor, DeVolder was the commencement speaker at the college’s Dec. 16 graduation ceremony at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts at the Center Campus in Clinton Township. According to school officials, more than 900 associate degrees were awarded. 

“I genuinely enjoyed it,” DeVolder said of addressing his fellow graduates. “Everyone was really nice. It was just such a positive experience.”

“Don was a dedicated student and stood out among our student body with his involvement with our veterans group and in forming a new student group,” Jenn McCabe, MCC’s manager of student activities and community services, said in a prepared statement.

DeVolder earned an associate of applied science degree in information technology. He was instrumental in starting the Cybersecurity Club at the college’s South Campus in Warren.

He plans to complete his bachelor’s degree in technology management through Eastern Michigan University, taking his classes at the Macomb University Center, located at Center Campus.

After being out of school for several years, the 2000 Cousino High School graduate began taking classes at MCC in the summer of 2013.

“Macomb for me has been real top-notch. Macomb instantly made me feel right at home,” he said. “I wish I would have started sooner. If someone is thinking about school, don’t wait on it. I had to obtain two difficult certifications for my work, and I know my education at Macomb assisted me in successfully obtaining those certifications on my first effort.”

DeVolder attended school full time while working full time in cybersecurity as a U.S. Department of Defense civilian. He joked that “lots of coffee, headaches and lack of sleep” are what got him through school. But on a serious note, it was his determination to finish. He also credited his wife, Natalie, and children Joshua, 11, and Isabella, 1, “for supporting me on it.”

The 2016 MCC graduate is “pretty sad” to close the chapter on his years at the college, and would like to return to the school one day as an instructor.

DeVolder served in the U.S. Army for six years. He was based out of the Detroit Light Guard Armory on Eight Mile Road. He also did a stint in Sinai, Egypt, on a peacekeeping mission between the African country and Israel.

“We were in a secure compound. It helped to kind of shape life for me,” said DeVolder, who interacted with the citizens of Egypt. Although they didn’t speak English, they were able to communicate with DeVolder. “You found a common ground.”