The woman’s smile couldn’t have been bigger.
Waiting to take the stage at the Broadmoor World Arena to receive her diploma, one of the many graduates of Pikes Peak Community College beamed in her cap and gown while posing for a loved one nearby who was taking photos of his big day.
“Do it for the (Insta)Gram,” he said, as she changed her position.
There were cheers, whistles, hollers and applause as friends and family celebrated their loved ones on Saturday morning, signifying a return to normalcy for the post-secondary institution.
The ceremony marked the first time since 2019 that the PPCC held an official in-person graduation ceremony. The 2020 ceremony was entirely virtual and the college celebrated its class of 2021 with a drive-in ceremony.
“We did a grad drive-through (last year) which was really neat, the grads were able to get in the car, family and friends were in a convoy behind them,” spokeswoman Karen Kovaly said. from college. “We were able to creatively find a way to involve everyone personally, but there’s nothing quite like an experience in a big arena like this with everyone cheering together.”
Kovaly said 900 graduates have registered to attend Saturday’s ceremony, which takes on added significance since this is the last time his students will graduate from Pikes Peak Community College. The school will officially change its name to Pikes Peak State College in July in accordance with House Bill 1280, signed into law on April 25.
Derek Blanton, a martial arts and philosophy instructor, was the marshal for some graduates during the event, guiding them to the stage. As they waited to hear their names called, he congratulated them on their accomplishments, acknowledging any honors they may have received, such as graduating with honors or joining the nursing corps, and complimenting them. on their appearance.
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“I’m here for them, it’s their day. I’m here to make sure they get as much recognition as possible for whatever they wear. That’s my goal,” Blanton said.
One of the first graduates to hear her name was Shannon Edwards, a military veteran assigned to Fort Carson. Saturday marked the end of a nearly 30-year journey for Edwards, 52, who always wanted to become a veterinarian. She got this opportunity after the PPCC recently added a two-year veterinary technology program.
According to Kovaly and the school’s website, Edwards is open to working in animal hospitals and holding positions in research, conservation and livestock health, to name a few.
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Edwards got emotional as she took a photo with staff members with a prop diploma before taking the stage to receive the real thing.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I’ve loved animals since I was little. I can’t even see an animal on the street without picking it up, caring for it, and finding it a good home. …Pikes Peak finally got the accreditation to get [the veterinary technology program] here; it was like a blessing.
“I retired and the next year it happened. It was just meant to be.”
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