CommencementCommencement Ceremony • May 4, 2019

The Commencement at Jackson College ceremony is an opportunity to pay special tribute to its graduates for the outstanding efforts they have shown in earning their degree or certificate. Our Commencement ceremony is held once a year in the Harold Sheffer theater at the end of the winter semester in May. To take part in the Commencement Ceremony students must apply for graduation.

In order to provide an opportunity for all to witness and celebrate with our graduates, Jackson College will be holding two commencement ceremonies organized by academic pathway. Please select a ceremony below for additional details.


2019 Commencement

2018 Commencement Program

Explanation of Degrees

  • The Bachelor of Applied Science is an undergraduate degree in a discipline that applies knowledge to more specific, practical applications. It is found in majors such as engineering or culinary arts, and is designed to lead to immediate work in the field.
  • The Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree is focused on a particular subject matter, with fewer liberal arts courses. Students concentrate on their academic subject to master technical and practical facets of their field. It is usually offered in technical and scientific areas like computer science or energy systems.
  • The Associate in Arts is earned primarily by students intending to transfer to a college or university and complete a four-year degree in any one of several major areas such as business administration, education or psychology.
  • The Associate in Science is earned by students intending to transfer and major in fields such as pharmacy, engineering, pre-medicine and biology.
  • The Associate in Applied Science is recommended for students who plan to enter an occupation upon graduation or who desire to transfer to specialized applied, business, or technical programs at four-year colleges.
  • The Associate in General Studies comprises a core of general education with additional coursework selected to meet the student’s needs and interests.
  • Certificates of completion are granted to students who have earned at least 30 semester hours of credit in an organized program
    of study.

Honor Cords

Graduates are recognized for achievement with honor cords worn over their graduation gown. Honor cords consist of twisted cords with tassels on either end.

  • Gold cords represent high academic honors, for students whose overall GPA is 3.80 to 4.0.
  • Silver cords represent academic honors, for students whose overall GPA is 3.50 to 3.79.
  • White cords represent academic honors, for students whose overall GPA is 3.00 to 3.49.
  • Red, white and blue cords recognize veteran students.

Jacob Smith • Morning Commencement Speech

Jacob Smith giving commencement speechWell, Jackson College, we made it.  It’s been a long journey but here we are. Speaking of long journeys, I first started college almost ten years ago, if you can believe that.  After graduating high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so, naturally, I thought about what would make the most money and decided I was going to be a doctor of pharmacy.  I quickly realized that was a mistake and, after finishing my first semester, I dropped out and joined the Army.  The Army was fun for a while, I got to jump out of airplanes, go on long walks through the woods, and met many lifelong friends.  Although I enjoyed my time in the Army, that’s not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I learned a great many things that I didn’t want to do during my time in the service.  I tried going to school for accounting.  You can guess how that turned out.  I tried applying my military job, packing parachutes, to the skydiving world in my free time and learned I didn’t want to do that either.  I learned I didn’t like being yelled at and bossed around all the time.  I learned all these things and much more, however, the most important thing I learned was the value of good work ethic, perseverance, and dedication.

I learned the importance of these traits in the military, however, the magnitude of their importance didn’t hit me until I was getting ready to leave the Army.  You may have noticed, I learned a lot about what I didn’t want to do.  So, what did I want to do?  Well, I still wasn’t sure.  I figured if I picked subjects that are exciting and interesting to me the rest would work itself out.  So, I started taking math and science, mostly physics, classes and promised myself I would not let anything get in the way of earning a degree.  I am currently pursuing physics and engineering and am one step closer to my next goal of a bachelor’s degree.

Through good work ethic, perseverance, and dedication, there is no obstacle or challenge that can’t be overcome.  All of you sitting here in front of me are proof of that.  If none of you had these three traits, I would be talking to a bunch of empty seats.  Many of you may be thinking you don’t have these traits but you do. How many times did you want to not study, or quit early but didn’t?  How many times did you not understand the material, or did poorly on an assignment or test and use that to push yourself to do better?  How many times did you want to stay home and skip class but came anyway?  If you’re anything like me, it was almost every day, at least for that last one.  But, you studied hard, you persevered through obstacles and tough times, you came to class, you did all these things because you embody these three traits.

This is the part where most people will wish you ‘Luck’ in your future endeavors, but, I’m not going to do that.  No, I’m not going to wish you luck because that would imply luck played a part in your success.  Luck’s not the reason you are all here today, you are the reason.  Your work ethic, your perseverance, your dedication; that is why you all made it to this point.  So, instead of wishing you luck, I’m going challenge you.  I challenge you all to take the same work ethic, perseverance, and dedication with you as you move forward, whether it be continuing your education, entering the workforce, or getting that promotion.  I know that you will all rise to meet this challenge and accomplish great things.


Haley Rose • Afternoon Commencement Speech

Good Afternoon and Welcome, Board of Trustees, President Phelan, Administrators, faculty, staff, students, distinguished guests, family and friends of the graduating class of 2019. My name is Haley Rose, and I am honored to be standing here representing one of the many voices at Jackson College.

I would like to start off with a quote that is meaningful to me, and that is, “strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t,” Rikki Rogers.

For several of us among the graduating class, I know that our success today has come by way of many struggles. Sometimes our battles are about finances, relationships with family members, or even friends. Personally, the biggest challenge that I had to overcome is the physical and mental abuse I had endured from my father and stepmother for the first 14 years of my life. I cannot put into words what it was like living in that situation. For years, I thought I was never good enough and the person that I was becoming could never achieve anything valuable in life.

It wasn’t until I was finally released from that toxic situation did I realize that I had more value in the world. Now, noticing that I had value didn’t automatically happen such as a flip of a switch. It took hard work and dedication of myself and loved ones to break down those walls I had built up for several years. I still struggle with some of those issues today. However, I chose not to let my past experiences define me and to acknowledge my value.

I stand before you today as someone who has overcome my own personal adversities in order to reach my goal of becoming a first-generation college graduate. Jackson College has provided several opportunities for me to grow as a student, person, and athlete. Programs such as TRiO, the Center for Student Success, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Softball team have encouraged me and pushed me towards being a more well-rounded individual

Being a first-generation college student can be very difficult at times. I did not know what to expect financially, what to expect with classes, what to expect with plans after Jackson College, or what to expect with the overall college process. However, I learned about JC’s TRiO program and decided to join. TRiO helps students who experience some or all of these issues. TRiO’s goal is to inspire and empower students to achieve academic success and to find ways for them to fulfill their lives. TRiO’s Nicole Garcia has helped me by being a strong advocate, by listening to my dreams and by her encouragement that I could indeed succeed. Having a mentor like her has inspired me to become a mentor to others as well.

Along the course of these past semesters, if I had started to struggle in any of my classes, the Center for Student Success (CSS) was always there to help. Fortunately, I have had the honor of being a tutor as well as a mentor in the CSS. I have personally witnessed the aggravation of several individuals for various courses. By having the opportunity to experience them come in and not understand the material, then after working with them, have them leave with an understanding or even slight understanding of the material gives me great pride and confidence in knowing that I have impacted their life for the better. Even if it is as minor as solving a math problem.

Personally, through my academic adversities, I have persevered. As a result, I was fortunate enough to be a part of Phi Theta Kappa, specifically, the Alpha Rho Lambda Chapter. While being a part of this chapter, I have found another family by being a member of the officer team. Together, we have spent countless hours working on ideas and projects as well as going on conventional trips which have resulted in us forming a strong bond that is everlasting.

Through athletics, I was integrated into another family in which my passion for physical adversity was met. Transitioning from high school level softball to college level softball was difficult at first because the expectations are different and the stakes are higher. Differences such as practices, games, study tables, fundraising, and community service were all things I had to adjust to while also attending classes and studying. Time management started to become a huge factor I had to achieve in order to be successful as an athlete and as a student. Despite the seemingly endless hours spent, here at JC, I have found yet another family I can rely on both on and off of the field.

Finally, I would like to thank all who have touched our lives — parents, faculty, friends, family, and Jackson College. Just as Jackson College’s mission is to inspire and transform lives, my wish for all of us 2019 JC graduates is to go out into the world with courage and confidence. Inspiring and transforming all the lives that we meet. Thank you, and once again, Congratulations.

JCCEP Commencement

Commencement Speech • K.L. Woods

Good morning Fellow Graduates, Family Members, Director Washington, Educational Director Gay, Asst. Educational Director Costello, Warden Brewer, Jackson College Leadership & Trustees, Principal Gumper and WHV Staff. I am beyond delighted to be a part of this triumphant celebration of accomplishments.

Director Washington, Educational Director Gay, Asst. Educational Director Costello, Warden Brewer, Jackson College Leadership, Principal Gumper and WHV Staff, it is because of all your empirical wisdom and concerted efforts that we all are here today. Our collective understanding that we are more than just inmates, more than our mistakes, has made it possible for this full-scale endeavor to become a reality. The administration and staff cannot be thanked enough for both providing and allowing this opportunity for me and my fellow graduates. This was not only a goal to be achieved but a dream that came true. I’m sure everyone here agrees that education is invaluable and today we can all validate our wort n and that is the most valuable lesson to carry forward.
To get here it took discipline, persistence, and support. Support from family, friends, fellow students, and staff. Before I go any further I would like to acknowledge my support system. Ms. Mack, Mother and Theodore, “you loved me without fear, trusted me without question, needed me without demanding and accepted me without change”. Thank you for always believing in me and supporting me. I love you infinity and beyond.

Now Graduates, today we are officially alumni of Jackson College. Each of us graduating today have weathered many storms to reach this moment. We are no longer leaders of tomorrow but of today. Not only are we leaders but we are also mentors and proud examples. We are the change that we’ve been waiting to see among our peers therefore we a re now held to a higher level of responsibility. Today is not only an act of individual commitment, but also one of pride. Individually and collectively we all worked hard to get to this day, and our work is not going unnoticed. The certificates and degrees that we are receiving today are magnificent and useful tools in the world, tools that will help to open many doors of opportunity for anyone who is blessed enough to have one.

Being the first graduating class we have set the precedent. In order to be good leaders we had to first become good students, listeners, communicators and most importantly critical thinkers. Now we can bask in our academic accomplishments. This entire graduating class is graduating with honors. This entire graduating class is on the Dean’s List, and almost of this graduating class are members of the Alpha Rho Lambda Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Life is a journey, and all accomplishments we achieve during its course should be taken as starting points for further achievements.

We are undoubtedly eager and ready to tackle the next phase of our lives. This is only one of many major milestones in our lives. You cannot discover new oceans unless you dare to lose sight of the shore. We need not be reminded that education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. Learning new things depends on self-willingness. However, our willingness to learn would have been nothing without the hard-working spirit and dedication that our professors offered us. Our professors have often times said that we are the best and hardest working students that they’ve had and I agree. The thing is, we are the best and hardest working students because we have more to prove.

We’ve shown our commitment to personal growth through making it thus far. Fellow graduates I now challenge you to take risks, set goals and continue your hunger for knowledge. We must find ways to give back to our community both inside and out and be prepared to reenter society as exemplary, active, creative, honest, eager, and productive citizens.
The road that lies ahead won’t be easy. There will be detours and missed exits, potholes and roadblocks. There will be times when each of us will feel like we cannot fathom going on. There will be times when each of us will feel alone. But remember that nothing worthwhile is easy, and that includes making the most out of our futures. We must never give up on ourselves. We must keep persevering, because we now know we can achieve our dreams, and most importantly because we know we are worth it.

This graduation has already shown us how capable we all are of accomplishing our goals when we commit ourselves to them. I pray that all of us here today can take this personal accomplishment as an example of how anything is truly possible when we put our minds to it. As we all continue on in our I ives, let us approach each new problem with confidence, knowing that we have achieved great heights and are equipped with the essential tools to tackle our futures.

This day means that there should be no more excuses. The matriarch of my family, my grandmother has always taught me, “We make no excuse for the things that we have, for this that we have the Lord has provided and we are thankful.” So from this day forward, let us make each decision with our best interests in mind. Let us have confidence in ourselves so that we may reach our goals and fulfill our purpose. Let us be the best that we can be so that we may fill our lives and the lives of those that are dear to us with bliss, honor and with pride. We’ve already taken the first step by making it to this ceremony today.

In closing I want the graduating class to always remember, “A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her.”

Congratulations to the class of 2019.