Clark College celebrates Class of 2017
June 22, 2017
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This year’s ceremony features keynote speaker Ernie Hudson and awards graduate Nicholas
Freese with the Community College Presidents’ Scholarship
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark College honored its 81st graduating class at the 2017 Clark College Commencement ceremony held Thursday evening, June 22, at the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater. More than 2,100 degrees and certificates were conferred on the next generation of our community's workers, leaders, and scholars.
Highlights from this year’s ceremony include:
- Approximately 800 graduates participated in the commencement ceremony.
- This year’s graduating class included 413 Running Start graduates—a new record for the college, which has the largest Running Start program in the state.
- The student speakers was Associate of Arts degree recipient Abigail Volk.
- This year marked the first time that graduates wore differently colored robes based on the degree/certificate they earned. Bachelor of Applied Science recipients wore white robes; associate degrees and certificates, royal blue; and GED completion and high school diploma, light blue. This was the second year that the college graduated baccalaureate degree-holders, and the third year that GED/High School Diploma graduates from Transitional Studies students participated in the ceremony.
- This year's commencement speaker was actor Ernie Hudson, known for his roles in Ghostbusters, Oz, and The Crow.
- During the ceremony, Clark College President Robert K. Knight announced the names of the recipients of the 2017 Exceptional Faculty Awards: economics instructor Patricia Atkinson; English instructor Dr. John Caruso; American Sign Language instructor Becky Engel; computer science and engineering instructor Dr. Nicholas Macias; and welding professor Brian McVay.
- Graduate Nicholas Freese was the recipient of the 2017-2018 Community College Presidents’ Award in Honor of Val Ogden. This annual scholarship is given to a Clark College graduate who demonstrates leadership potential, a commitment to community service, and academic achievement. The scholarship award provides full-time tuition at Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV) and is renewable for one additional year, essentially providing full tuition to complete a bachelor's degree. See below for biographical information.
About Nicholas Freese
This year’s recipient of the Community College Presidents’ Award in Honor of Val Ogden was Nicholas Freese, who graduated with an Associate of Arts transfer degree. “As is the case for so many of our students, this year’s scholarship recipient did not have a straight or easy path to higher education,” said Clark College President Robert K. Knight in announcing the scholarship during the college’s 2017 Commencement ceremony.
Freese attended high school in New Mexico, but a troubled home life and struggles with addiction led him to drop out. Years later, he found himself in Vancouver—sober, but unsure of how to build a better future for himself and his young daughter. He enrolled at Clark, and soon proved to be an exemplary student, earning a cumulative GPA of 3.77 while also making time to volunteer in his community and be primary caretaker of his daughter. “Higher education has given me a life, put my daughter and family back in my life, helped me to love myself, and has shown me a world I didn’t think was possible for me,” he said.
Freese, 28, plans to pursue a degree in public affairs at WSUV, with the end goal of completing law school and becoming a lawyer. He lives in Vancouver with his 4-year-old daughter, Sadie, and his wife, Ashley.
About Clark College
Located in Vancouver’s Central Park and serving more than 12,000 students per quarter, Clark College is Washington state’s second-largest single-campus, for-credit community college. The college currently offers classes at two satellite locations: one on the Washington State University Vancouver campus and one in the Columbia Tech Center in East Vancouver. Additionally, its Economic & Community Development program is housed in the Columbia Bank building in downtown Vancouver.