BANGOR, Maine — Many sporting the hard hats, welding helmets, chef’s toques and other headgear of their chosen trades, about 350 students of Eastern Maine Community College celebrated their graduation in commencement exercises held Saturday morning at the Bangor Auditorium.
It was one of the largest graduating classes ever, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Clayton.
“I imagine that with the way enrollments have been going, it will just grow and grow,” Clayton said.
EMCC, one of seven public community colleges in Maine, offers diplomas and certification in hands-on vocational programs such as building construction, telecommunications, culinary arts and automotive technology, as well as one-year and two-year diplomas and academic degrees in areas such as business, engineering, early childhood education, nursing and liberal studies.
The commencement address on Saturday was delivered by 2010 Student of the Year Jasmine Dawn Moody of Thorndike, who graduated with high honors with an associate degree in early childhood education.
Clayton said most students at EMCC come from the school’s primary service area of Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Hancock counties, but there also are students from throughout Maine and New England as well as from Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. This year’s graduating class included a student from Russia and one from Japan, she said.
Enrollment in Maine’s community colleges has been on the rise for several years, reflecting both the economic downturn and the schools’ recent adjustment allowing many of their course credits to be transferable to colleges in the University of Maine system and other institutions.
Clayton said applications at EMCC are at an all-time high and most programs have already enrolled as many students as they can accept for the fall semester. Openings remain in computer-aided design and drafting, civil engineering and liberal studies.