TCL graduates more than 270 students
Highlights of 2022 commencement included inspirational speeches, large turnout and unexpectedly nice weather
Despite calls for rain and a late afternoon downpour, more than 270 students from the Technical College of the Lowcountry went on to receive diplomas, certificates or associate degrees at the college’s graduation ceremony held Friday, May 13, in Beaufort’s Waterfront Park.
As students donned caps and gowns and prepared to make their way to the park’s amphitheater, dark storm clouds gave way to bright, sunny skies, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
“How fortunate we are,” said TCL President Dr. Richard Gough as he welcomed graduates, their families, faculty, staff and guests. “Just an hour ago it was raining, and now it’s not. It’s beautiful.”
The early evening commencement was the first in-person ceremony for TCL in three years since the pandemic forced schools and colleges everywhere to rethink graduation exercises. And while the sudden change in weather on Friday was exciting enough for those who waited patiently in the audience for the ceremony to begin, for graduates back stage, the real excitement lay just ahead.
“It is exciting,” said Jonathan Gonzalez as he stood in the check-in line. Dressed in the traditional black academic regalia, the 19-year-old was getting ready to receive his certificate in plumbing and had a large crowd of family members there to celebrate with him.
“Parents, girlfriend, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins,” he began detailing.
Having always been more interested in “hands-on work,” Gonzalez now plans to work for a plumbing company or contractor, he said. He also hopes to own his own business someday.
“But yes, I’m pretty excited,” he said.
He certainly wasn’t alone. TCL had 60 students to receive certificates on Friday. Eighteen more received diplomas, and another 196 students received associate degrees.
Many of those who earned associate degrees plan to continue their education at four-year colleges or universities in South Carolina or elsewhere in the region, while those who earned certificates or diplomas are planning to go straight to work in their chosen career path.
Other graduates yet, known as dual-enrollment students, were receiving associate degrees in tandem with earning their high school diplomas, a special accomplishment recognized by Dr. Gough who had those students stand and be recognized.
Regardless of degree, a range of fields were represented in Friday’s pool of graduates including health sciences, computer technology, business, construction and more.
Beaufort’s Deputy City Manager Reece Bertholf gave the commencement address and was also presented with TCL’s Presidential Medallion.
“Every day, from here on out, is a new opportunity for happiness, success and self-fulfillment,” he told the Class of 2022.
A TCL graduate, Bertholf holds a Master in Business Administration from The Citadel and is active in the community. As part of his remarks, Bertholf encouraged graduates to think about their accomplishment and the concept of ‘Someday.’
“As you use the knowledge, skills and abilities you earned at TCL to forge your personal path, …from now on, when you catch yourself thinking about ‘someday’ – stop. Formulate a plan and take a small step or a large action toward the outcome you would like to achieve for yourself.”
The program also included a student address by TCL’s Alysha Kromm. Kromm graduated magna cum laude with an associate degree in Administrative Office Technology on Friday and now works as a Financial Aid Specialist for the college.
A self-described military spouse and stay-at-home mom for many years, Kromm detailed having to overcome fear and self-doubt before returning to both school and work.
“Breaking through the barrier of self-doubt and the fear of the unknown is not just my story, it could be any one of yours,” she said. Kromm also credited the relationships she built at TCL for helping her to find her confidence and self-worth again.
“Whether it’s been two years or fifteen years, tonight …you have proven to yourself that you have what it takes to overcome life’s adversities and achieve whatever it is you seek,” she said. “Congratulations Class of 2022. May we all continue to see the value in ourselves, push through the tough times and remember – nothing changes if we change nothing.”
To watch the full 2022 Commencement recorded earlier click here.
Highlights and Behind the Scenes:
(Click on photos to scroll)
For free downloads or to order professional prints of graduates receiving their diplomas go to Pro Photo Inc. here.