CALAIS, Maine — More than 180 students participated in the 40th commencement ceremony Friday for Washington County Community College.
The commencement speaker was Wayne Jackson, a 1984 graduate of WCCC and now owner of Jackson Plumbing and Heating in Old Town, and a full-time instructor at United Technology Center in Bangor.
With today’s changing economic times, Jackson said, he worried about what to tell the graduates. And so he decided to draw from his own memories.
Jackson said that before he attended WCCC he was unable to focus and in 1982 he created a list of goals and objectives.
“I have now completed them all,” he said. By the age of 24, he held three master’s in plumbing and heating degrees and by the age of 26 was teaching at UTC.
“Be relentless. Be confident. Believe in yourself. Be willing to learn something new every day,” Jackson urged the graduates. “You have been given the skills to compete. Seize the day.”
WCCC interim President Charles Collins told those gathered for the event at Calais High School that the size of this year’s graduating class indicates the strength of WCCC.
“We are fulfilling our mission to provide Maine with a well-trained work force,” Collins said.
WCCC is one of seven colleges in the Maine Community College System and was founded in August 1969 as Washington County Vocational Technical Institute in the Calais Armory. It moved to its present 400-acre campus overlooking the St. Croix River on U.S. Route 1 in 1970.
Other speakers at commencement included WCCC business studies instructor Billy Case, and Robert Clark, a trustee of the Maine Community College System.
Clark said the Calais-based students were among 2,400 community college graduates this spring.
Ronald St. John, a graduating student from Harrison, was named Student of the Year. He challenged his classmates to “Go out there and prove you learned something.”
Students received associate degrees in adventure tourism and recreation, general technology, business management, early childhood education, computer support specialist, mechanical technology and medical assisting.
In a cooperative program with Southern Maine Community College, 15 students obtained associate degrees in criminal justice, liberal students and education.
A number of students obtained certificates for automotive technology, culinary and baking, building construction technology, entrepreneurship, engine specialist, heavy equipment maintenance and operations, medical office technology, plumbing technology, and welding technology.