SHERIDAN — Donned in blue gowns and accompanied by the bagpipes and drums of Celtic Colorado Pipes and Drums, this year’s graduates of Sheridan College entered the Golden Dome at 1 p.m. Saturday for the commencement ceremony.
A highlight of the ceremony was the naming of this year’s winner of the President’s Award. The name of the chosen student is a closely guarded secret, even from the winner, until the time it is announced. The winner is chosen by the college president each year and is eligible for the award if he or she maintains a 3.25 grade point average, is involved in campus organizations and activities and has served volunteer time in the community.
This year’s winner is Taesub Kim of South Korea. Kim, who studied nursing, graduated from SC with an associate degree in applied science.
“He exemplifies the core values of our organization,” SC President Dr. Paul Young said. “It is rare to see him without a smile on his face. We are going to miss you and we know you are going to do great things.”
Kim was genuinely surprised when his name was announced. His impromptu speech was welcomed by the audience who gave him rousing applause.
“This is a huge honor for me. More than I can say,” Kim said, noting that he had never been to Sheridan or Wyoming before arriving to start school. “It was not an easy decision to come 6,000 miles from South Korea. Sheridan became my second home now and I would want to come back as often as possible.”
He received more applause and cheers when he mentioned that his mother was watching the ceremony and his award recognition from South Korea via online video. Kim received a $100 cash award and decorative plaque.
Another highlight of the commencement was a speech from this year’s Distinguished Alum Award winner Ryan Mulholland. Mulholland, owner of Ptolemy Data Systems, thanked his wife for her support and talked about the importance of higher education and noted how humbled he was to be honored as the distinguished alum.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was former Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer. Geringer spoke of the importance of community colleges.
“They train or retrain more of our adult population than any other way,” he said.
He added that only about one-third of Americans and 34 percent of Wyoming residents achieve a credential above high school graduation.
“You have chosen the right path,” he told the graduates.
The former governor spoke to the graduates about the importance of maintaining their ethic of hard work, sticking to their values, improving their people skills and personal relationships and finding what it is that they are most passionate about.
Noting that the state and national economy is still uncertain, he encouraged the graduates to stay flexible and seek opportunities even if they are not necessarily in their chosen career field initially.
“In my life I’ve changed jobs five times,” he said. “Whatever path you choose, be ready to adapt.”