Photo: TCL Area Commission Chair Gen. Art Brown, Presidential Medallion Recipient Mr. Skeet Von Harten, Commencement Speaker Brigadier General Lori Reynolds, and Dr. Richard Gough at the Commencement Reception held Friday before the graduation ceremony.
The Technical College of the Lowcountry’s Commencement Ceremony was held at 6 p.m., Friday, May 9 the Parris Island All Weather Training Facility. More than 325 graduates received certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in arts and sciences, business technologies, industrial technologies and health sciences.
The ceremony featured multiple speakers including a student address from graduate Yvonne Vicuna. In 2009, Vicuna enrolled in TCL’s Early Care and Education program to pursue an Associate Degree in Applied Science/Early Care and Education. Like many TCL students, Vicuna had to balance schoolwork, family, jobs and church while taking classes. The wife and mother to a teenage son did not allow her hectic schedule to hinder her grades and academic success at TCL.
“In the beginning, it was a struggle but with the help from my family, instructors and the tutoring center my confidence grew and I realized that TCL was working. My message to anyone who wants to enroll at TCL is find a way to make it work for you,” Vicuna said.
The 2014 Presidential Medallion was awarded to W.R. “Skeet” Von Harten. This award recognizes an outstanding individual with distinguished citizenship and demonstrated leadership who has helped build a better and stronger community. A Beaufort native, Von Harten is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and earned a Master of Science in foreign affairs from The George Washington University in 1971. Von Harten has received many honors and served in multiple positions for Beaufort County including Chairman and Vice Chairman for the Beaufort County Council for more than 10 years, Beaufort Water Festival Commodore in 1983, Chairman of the Military Enhancement Committee and a member of AMVETS and VFW.
TCL Area Commission Vice Chairman Bill Bootle presented the medallion to Von Harten. “Skeet has always been an advocate for technical training and dual enrollment,” Bootle said. “He has been and continues to be truly committed to working hard and getting things done in order to make Beaufort County a better place for us all.”
The Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Lori Reynolds, delivered the Commencement address. Brigadier General Reynolds shared stories of perseverance from personal experience in the military and offered advice to the class of 2014.
“There are a few things that are true in life; you should be a rich contributor to the community, take everything one step at a time, stay true to yourself, be a leader, be grounded, be a team player and understand that your reputation is more important than your status,” Reynolds said.
The Student of the Year and All-State Academic Team member, Jonathan Bryant, crossed the stage on Friday and received an Associate Degree in Applied Science/Computer Technology with multiple honors. Bryant volunteered as a peer-to-peer student mentor and held student presidency of both the TCL’s Student Government Association and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Bryant plans to transfer to the University of South Carolina in Columbia to complete his bachelor degree and later pursue a master’s at Georgia Institute of Technology.
In addition, TCL provided multiple students with the opportunity to earn college credit before they even graduate high school.
One such student was Michelle Gee, a senior at Whale Branch Early College High School who received three certificates and two associate degrees. Gee was also honored as TCL’s 2014 Young Achiever. After graduating from high school on June 4, Gee plans to attend Clemson University in the fall for a Bachelor Degree in Engineering.
The commencement ceremony concluded with the presentation of the graduating class. Nearly 180 students walked across the stage to receive their awards as conferred by TCL President Dr. Richard Gough.