After three years of drive-thru graduation ceremonies, Stanly Community College (SCC) returned to in-person commencement at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center on Thursday, May 11. Nearly half of the 492-person graduating class walked across the stage and received their credentials as faculty, staff, family and friends cheered them on.

 SCC held three ceremonies, honoring graduates from Health Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing Industry and Trades, Public Services, Business, Technology, University Transfer, College and Career Readiness and Stanly Early College. The graduates ranged in age from 15 to 66, with 75% female and 25% male.

SCC officials presenting the candidates with their degree, diploma and/or certificates included Dr. John
Enamait, President, Dr. Carmen Nunalee, Vice President of Student Success, Joe Brooks, SCC Board of Trustees Chair, and associate vice presidents of the respective programs.

SCC President Enamait stated, “While our drive-thru ceremonies were well-attended and personalized to each student, I realized how much I missed the pomp and circumstance of holding graduation on stage when the first group of students processed into the auditorium. Seeing the sense of accomplishment on their faces reinforced our commitment to help students succeed. Each of them is a success story and the room was filled with them.”

 Student commencement speakers included Ashley Russell, Jessica Ledbetter and Summer Lowder.

“I have learned many lessons here at Stanly in the last two years, but the one that I will always carry with me throughout my career and life in general is to never let your fear of failure be bigger than your will to try,” said Russell.

 All three ceremonies are available for viewing on SCC’s YouTube channel.

A Student Honors ceremony was held the night before graduation where 91 students received honor cords and the following award winners were recognized: 

 Maurin Wilhite, Radiography, received the Annie Ruth Kelly Leadership Award. The Annie Ruth Kelley Leadership Award was created in 2001 to honor the service and leadership of the first Chairperson of the College Board of Trustees and the first woman to chair a community college board in this state. Mrs. Kelley served with distinction for 28 years as a College Trustee. In keeping with the tenets of Mrs. Kelley’s record of service, this award is presented to the graduating student who has excelled in providing leadership to fellow students, the College, and the community. Maurin distinguished herself as a strong leader in both the classroom and student organizations. She demonstrated exceptional patient care and leadership skills in clinical settings, particularly at First Health Montgomery Memorial Hospital where she was named the Radiologic Student Technologist in 2022.

Tameka Purdie, Radiography, received the Dianne H. Burton Community Service Award that was created in 2006 to honor the service of the past College Registrar. This award is presented to the graduating student who has contributed to the community through service learning. Tameka was known as an encourager and supporter of other students and clinical staff, and has contributed to the College’s food pantry, coat drive and Radiography Club efforts.

Stephanie Davenport, High School Equivalency, received the Shirley Dennis Basic Skills Outstanding Student Award that was established in 2012 in memory of Shirley Diane Dennis. This award recognizes an exemplary high school equivalent or adult high school graduate who, while overcoming challenges, remains committed to education and demonstrates leadership skills among peers. Stephanie had a special incentive to finish her high school work this year so she could celebrate with her younger sister, who was also graduating from high school. The faculty member who nominated her commented on her positive attitude and encouragement of other classmates.  Stephanie is a mother of four young children and works to support her family but attended classes regularly and completed assignments on time.

Kelly Nolasco, Cosmetology, received the Jerrie Sue Moffitt-Morton Award. The recipient of this award demonstrates the ability to overcome adversity, maintain integrity, and keep clients' needs as their priority. The recipient will be known for putting others before herself while also possessing a fighting spirit when faced with life's negative circumstances. While raising a family, she attended school full-time and worked as a nurse on the weekends. The faculty member who nominated Kelly commented that she was always willing to go beyond what was expected, and as a result, was extremely well liked by the clients she served.

Amy Ray, Class of 2017, received the Outstanding Alumni Award. Each year one or more Stanly Community College alumni are recognized for their contributions to the College, the community, and their profession. Eligibility for this award requires that the student must have participated at the College as either a curriculum, continuing education, or basic skills/literacy student. The SCC Executive Leadership Team then selects the award recipient out of the eligible nominations. Following graduation from SCC, Amy earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC Charlotte and master’s degree from UNC Greensboro. Since then, she has been highly active in Future Business Leaders of America Collegiate. She began her career at Price Waterhouse Cooper and is now in the core tax division of BDO USA, an international accounting network headquartered in Charlotte.

Tori Pence, Radiography, received the Dr. George E. Eddins, Jr. Award of Distinction in Allied Health Education. This award is named in honor of an Albemarle physician whose support of the SCC Foundation has allowed hundreds of students to attend college. This recognition was established in 2003 and is awarded to an Allied Health student who must have at least a 3.5 GPA, demonstrated leadership ability, and a record of service to the community. Tory was recognized by clinical sites for her patient care skills and willingness to assist in any situation. As a second-year student, she helped share information about the program with high school and allied health students. Tory has been an active member of the Radiology Club, assisting in collections for the SCC food pantry, coat drive and local animal shelter supply drive.

Three graduates received the Edward J. Snyder, Jr., Exceptional Scholars Award: Ashley Russell, Jessica Ledbetter and Summer Lowder. This award was named in honor of the second Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Snyder was a member of the State Board of Community Colleges and the first Chairperson of the College Foundation, a position he held for over three decades. His support of the College provided
scholarships and other resources for SCC for nearly four decades. An award was established in 2002 in
honor of his services. To qualify, a student must be nominated by a faculty or staff member, have at least a
3.0 grade point average, submit an essay, and complete an interview with a selection committee.

Ashley Russell received a degree from the Annie Ruth Kelley Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Program. She was active in the ADN Club, participating in fundraisers and community service projects with Samaritan’s Purse and the Stanly County Humane Society. The faculty member who nominated Ashley commented that she was always interested in delving deeper into subject content and taking assignments further than required.

Jessica Ledbetter received degrees in both Accounting & Finance and Business Administration. The faculty member who nominated Jessica commented that she had a strong work ethic and tremendous determination to succeed. While working on her degrees, she managed her home and home-schooled her children.

Summer Lowder received an Associate of Arts degree and is transferring to Wingate University this fall to study psychology. She began at SCC after moving to North Carolina from Oklahoma. The faculty member who nominated Summer commented on how well she handled the stress of moving, beginning a new job and enrolling in classes.    

SCC is one of 58 colleges in the North Carolina Community College System.  The NC System has long served as an example of community-based education for the entire nation. To showcase statewide success, the System initiates three awards for which each college may nominate a student. Toby Neal was the recipient of this year’s NC Community College Academic Excellence Award. He is working toward an Associate of Arts and plans to obtain a bachelor's degree in history and political science prior to law school and a career in politics.

The Dallas Herring Achievement Award is named in honor of the System’s first president and is presented for both academic and leadership success to a recent graduate of each college. Hannah Barnhill, a 2021 SCC graduate, originally obtained a cosmetology license but various circumstances gave her the opportunity to return to SCC in 2019 and earn an Associate in Applied Science degree in Accounting and Business Administration. While a student, she received grade point average honors each semester.

Following his term as governor, Bob Scott served as the president of the System for twelve years. The System honored his retirement by creating a student award recognizing outstanding campus leadership. SCC’s honoree was Chloee Thomas, an Agribusiness student, who has a 4.0 GPA and will graduate in January. She has served as an officer in the College’s Future Business Leaders of America Collegiate chapter and has assisted in numerous Student Government Association activities.

Student leadership medallions were awarded to students who provided outstanding student organization leadership.  Recipients included Hillary Adams, Gage Barrier, Elizabeth Lassing, Yeika Mercado Lopez, Moye McKenzie, Toby Neal, Chloee Thomas and Maurin Wilhite.