STANTON — This year’s class of graduates at Montcalm Community College were reminded of the importance of two things as they enter the job market: a firm handshake and a willingness to thank those who have helped get them where they are today.
Commencement exercises were held Friday evening at Central Montcalm High School with 328 students receiving diplomas.
The commencement address, delivered by area grocery owner Ransom Leppink, of Lakeview, was both a trip down memory lane for Leppink — an MCC alumni — and an admonishment to the graduating seniors that their diplomas should be considered but a first step in a larger life plan. Leppink talked about his own grandfather, who built a thriving business with only an eighth grade education.
“For my 13th birthday, my dad gave me a job,” Leppink said. “For my 14th birthday I was put on the payroll. I loved working in the store and figured, why waste time on college?
“My grandfather told me that attending college would enlighten me and broaden my horizons. I could work with my dad and eventually I would think just like my dad. Or I could go to college and I would think like Ransom Leppink and bring my own ideas to the business. Attending college would enlighten me and broaden my horizons.”
Leppink also noted that many of those in attendance would see their picture in the paper Saturday morning. He said that he expected to see them all in the paper in the future, for doing great things and making significant contributions to the community.
“Display your diplomas and be proud,” he said. “This should be the highlight of your life, for tonight. But don’t let it be the highlight of your life 5, 10 or 20 years from now.”
Finally, Leppink told the graduates that the importance of a firm handshake cannot be stressed to much when it comes to finding gainful employment.
“And lastly, remember to say thank you,” Leppink said. “Class of 2014, it’s been a honor. Congratulations and God bless you.”
The graduates also heard from student commencement speaker Heather Richards, who shared some of her memories of her time at MCC. She said the college has challenged her to expand her life and enrich it in many ways she hadn’t expected when she first started classes there.
Though she said she has a wealth of stories from the past few years, not all of them are altogether pleasant.
“Every MCC instructor has challenged me to expand my life,” Richards said. “However, they have also stolen my sleep and given me a few gray hairs on the top of my head.”
Richards also noted the importance of the support she has received during her academic career from family, friends and other students.
“Possibly the most important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s OK and necessary to be reliant on other to help me achieve my dreams,” Richards said. “Those at MCC have also made a substantial impact.”
Processional and recessional music, as well as entertainment prior to commencement, was provided by the Flat River Big Band. The MCC Alumni Choir also provided musical interludes during the ceremony.