2023 Graduation Celebration
May 17, 2023
Nearly 500 Central Community College graduates received their degrees during three commencement ceremonies on May 5. The Heartland Events Center hosted both the Grand Island and Hastings campus graduations while the Raider Fieldhouse hosted the Columbus Campus commencement.
Keynote addresses at all three campuses were delivered by CCC’s Outstanding Alumni Award recipients, Marci Ostmeyer, Columbus; Jannelle Seim, Grand Island; and Brent and Andrea Winfield, Hastings. A recap of each ceremony follows.
Ostmeyer addressed 104 graduates and said her CCC days began in 1997 when she was a stay-at-home mother of three children. She registered for an American literature course through what was then known as the extended learning services (ELS) department but is now called community and workforce education. Ostmeyer was handed a packet, which contained a syllabus and assignments to be mailed in. Eventually, the ELS employees she had mailed her assignments to encouraged her to pursue an education degree through a partnership CCC had with the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK). Ostmeyer took the challenge and then some.
“I started taking nine credit hours a semester from UNK and I filled up the rest of my classes with those packets,” said Ostmeyer, who completed 66 credits through packets. “There were some semesters I took 21 hours because I wanted to achieve this degree.”
In 2001, Ostmeyer graduated from CCC-Columbus and six months later, she graduated from UNK with her bachelor’s degree. She also went on to earn two master’s degrees. Following several years of teaching, Ostmeyer currently serves as the professional development director at Educational Service Unit 7 in Columbus.
Ostmeyer encouraged the graduates by sharing a quote from Edmond Lee, which has impacted her throughout her collegiate studies and career: “Surround yourself with people who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it within yourself.”
A 2001 graduate of the Grand Island Campus, Seim went on to earn a bachelor and master’s degree and currently serves as the chief administrative officer for Hamilton Communications. She encouraged the 173 CCC-Grand Island graduates as they enter the workforce, to find a mentor.
“You don’t know everything,” said Seim. “Listen to those who’ve been around the block and soak up what you can. This doesn’t have to be a formal relationship, and the mentor may not even be aware that you’re listening and learning but keep your head on a swivel and your ears open.”
Seim mentioned the long-held belief that co-workers should not be friends and boundaries should be set on work relationships. She disagrees and recommends that everyone needs to find their people.
“Find those people who have your back, who will shoot straight, who will support you and be that person for someone else,” said Seim, who named her co-workers who do all those things. “These are people that I would call to bail me out. These are people that I would bail out.”
Seim closed her remarks by challenging the graduates to remember the bits and pieces of what has made them an amazing person, to have success and find people to share it with.
Brent Winfield spoke for both he and his wife to the 197 Hastings Campus graduates, sharing four pieces of advice they have gleaned since graduating from CCC-Hastings in 2009.
“First, life may have other plans for you than the exact plan that you’ve envisioned for yourself,” Winfield said. He explained that while Andrea wanted to be a CPA, they thought it best that she help run the business. Brent said that he originally intended to become a history teacher but decided that teaching wasn’t for him. He later had an opportunity to buy the business he was working for.
Second, enjoy what you do. “Time goes by way too quickly to be unhappy in your career choice. Find something that makes you happy,” said Winfield.
Third, make sure to take time for your family. “When your parents look the way they do today, and you look up 10 to 20 years in your career, and then make time to see them, they will age quickly.” Winfield said. “Make the time to call home. Make the time to go back home and visit.”
Fourth, live within your means. “As Dave Ramsey has said, ‘Live today like nobody else and you can live like nobody else tomorrow,’” said Winfield.
The Winfields own two businesses and are the parents of three young daughters.