Family, friends and faculty packed the Clovis Civic Center as Clovis Community College honored this year's graduates at a commencement ceremony held Friday evening.
Student speaker Ami Kowalski pauses before making a point during her speech at the Clovis Community College commencement ceremony Friday at the Clovis Civic Center. Kowalski, a nursing graduate, said students needed to thank the loved ones who supported them in their studies and the teachers who answered countless questions during classes.
"You need to pat yourselves on the back," Col. Heather LoBue, Cannon Air Force Base staff judge advocate, told graduates during her special address. "What a great accomplishment."
"Choose to lead a life less ordinary," she encouraged them. "And choose to give the world the best you have."
According to CCC officials, 258 students earned associate degrees this spring and 266 students earned certificates of completion.
Among Friday's honorees was Gheorghe Feier, a criminal justice graduate who did all of his coursework online and traveled from Lakewood, Colo., with his wife and two children for the ceremony.
"I was able to work nights, study and take care of the kids at the same time," Feier explained of his decision to take classes online.
Originally from Romania, Feier has worked for the Department of Justice for 10 years and will likely continue his education with CCC as a means to further his career with the Bureau of Prisons.
"I will either try international business or finish up with political science," he said of his future degree. "It will be a step up to work as an internal investigations officer."
Student speaker and nursing graduate Ami Kowalski also plans to continue her education.
"My ultimate goal is to be a nurse anesthetist," she said. "So this is one step toward that."
In addition to being a student, Kowalski is also a mother and a military wife.
Nery Lujan, left, and Davis Thanh Le listen during addresses Friday night at the Clovis Community College commencement at the Clovis Civic Center. They were among several students who decorated their graduation caps with a radioactive material sign to note their degrees in radiologic technology.
"I got married to a man in the Air Force and we were stationed here in September of 2009," she explained. "We moved down to Portales and I had my son while I was going through my pr-requisites."
During her speech, Kowalski spoke of juggling various pieces of life in order to get through school, and extended a special thanks to caffeine for also helping to make graduation possible.
"Thank you, coffee," she said. "We love you."
In addition to honoring this year's graduates, CCC President Becky Rowley wrapped up the ceremony by granting emeritus status to three retiring faculty members for outstanding service to the school.