Virtual ceremony highlights MCC’s graduates

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published December 16, 2020

 Emily Colbert was a guest speaker during the Macomb Community College virtual ceremony.

Emily Colbert was a guest speaker during the Macomb Community College virtual ceremony.

Photo provided by Emily Colbert

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MACOMB COUNTY — This past fall was a much different experience for Macomb Community College students.

Instead of hustling to class, getting to know their instructors in person and meeting up in the student center for lunch and conversation, their education was conducted virtually online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it presented challenges, students persevered and this month, MCC held its 103rd commencement ceremony in a virtual format. College officials awarded approximately 2,400 associate degrees for the 2020 academic year for the fall, summer and winter semesters. The virtual ceremony is available for viewing at the college’s website, www.macomb.edu.

“We are celebrating the success of more than 200 Macomb students participating in commencement, who represent more than 2,000 graduates during the past academic year — a year of upheaval, of anxiety and, yet, of accomplishment,” MCC President James O. Sawyer IV said in a prepared statement. “Although we can’t gather together in person in the interest of health and safety, we felt it was important to find an alternative way to continue our commencement ceremony tradition. I don’t think bringing our community together to recognize and celebrate our graduates has ever been more necessary — for their accomplishments are even greater this year.”

Emily Colbert, 24, was one of three students who was a guest speaker during the virtual ceremony. The 2014 Eisenhower High School graduate began attending MCC in 2018 after a lackluster start to her college education.

“I started out at Oakland University and I was not a particularly motivated student,” she said. “I struggled finding what I wanted to do. I would not go to my classes and I would drop out. I didn’t take it seriously.”

Because of that, the Shelby Township resident was dismissed from OU because of “poor academic behavior.” Colbert eventually returned to school when she enrolled at MCC to attend classes at the Center Campus in Clinton Township.

“That’s where I found my love of learning. I was able to turn around my GPA,” Colbert said. “Part of it was the smaller class sizes. I think that definitely was an advantage. I think it pushed me to enjoy my classes more. I felt a little less judged, I suppose. There was more personal attention. It made me want to ask questions and engage in discussions I maybe wouldn’t have before. I was enjoying the process of learning.”

Colbert received an associate of general studies degree from MCC, graduating with a 3.23 GPA. She took several classes, including communications courses, public speaking and creative writing.

“This felt like a really nice close to this chapter,” Colbert said of being a guest speaker. “It has been a little bit of a journey for me to get my degree.”

Colbert was accepted back into OU and will continue her education when online school begins Jan. 6. Her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in sociology. Colbert said she has enjoyed the online process.

“It has been a challenge for some people, but it can be very beneficial,” Colbert said. “I’m in my own space and really take my time to go over the material and have it right in front of me.”

As a career, Colbert wants to work in a management consulting role for a business.

“I want to improve the communication within their business and advocate for lower-level employees,” Colbert said. “Many of them are transitioning to remote work. I think a lot of people don’t feel connected and don’t feel a sense of community within their workplace.”

Charles Guccione and Maria Harmon were the other two guest speakers who addressed their fellow graduates during the virtual ceremony.

According to a college press release, Guccione, 18, of Clinton Township, earned an associate of arts degree and plans to transfer to a university to continue his studies in psychology. Guccione was in a dual-enrolled program and attended MCC while still in high school.

Harmon, 22, of Macomb Township, earned two new associate degrees. She will transfer to Walsh College and pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. Harmon is a first generation American; her parents immigrated from Italy in 1968.

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