Graduation 2024: Students Celebrate their Successes!

by Holly Walker

With family, friends, faculty and staff cheering and applauding, members of the Class of 2024 celebrated their accomplishments during Brightpoint Community College’s 56th Annual Commencement Ceremony on May 13. About 400 graduates, including high school students, veterans, parenting students, Brightpoint employees and employee children, and a 102-year-old student, participated in the ceremony, which was filled with excitement, laughter, emotional tears and memorable moments.

The ceremony began with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by Mahala Rose Redden, who is graduating with an associate of fine arts in theatre. Joining Mahala on stage were three other members of the Class of 2024, who delivered the evening’s commencement speeches. 

Student Government Association president Tracie Artis, who is graduating with a liberal arts degree, spoke about the importance of giving yourself grace while also being persistent. She told the audience about her initial college experiences, which left her feeling uncertain and prompted her to step away and how, over time, she made the decision to return and to face the classes that challenged her most. In doing so, she found out she could succeed in her classes, and she discovered a passion for leadership, which is taking her to the University of Virginia, where she plans to earn her bachelor’s degree and then head to law school.

Breanna Hanegan completed her welding career studies certificate (CSC) and earned several industry-recognized welding certifications all before graduating high school. The 17-year old talked about her memories of growing up and what inspired her to pursue a career in welding. She also spoke about the Brightpoint faculty who supported her along the way, her pride in completing a college credential before high school graduation, and her hope that her story would inspire other women.

Keiyan Price is graduating with a degree in technical studies, an industrial electricity CSC, and a CSC in industrial maintenance. He spoke about the challenges he’s confronted in his life, including alcohol addiction, the frightening medical problems faced by his son who was born prematurely, and the loss of his father. And, he shared how his journey evolved, thanks to his faith, those who believed in him and challenged him, and his own determination to overcome, learn and grow. Now, he’s celebrating his family, including his now-six-year-old son who is thriving; his employer and the faculty at Brightpoint who guided and supported him; and his college achievements.  

One by one, the honorees of the evening proudly crossed the stage as their names were called. Shaking hands with college leadership and waving, smiling and shouting out to family and friends, the graduates proudly displayed their Brightpoint diploma covers. And, as 102-year-old Sarah Simpkins crossed the stage and accepted her diploma cover from Brightpoint President Bill Fiege, the crowd jumped to its feet and wildly applauded and cheered for her. Simpkins, who is in the early childhood CSC program, is realizing a decades-long dream of earning a college credential. By her side, assisting her, was her granddaughter Halimah Shepherd, who was also celebrating her own graduation from Brightpoint’s pharmaceutical manufacturing CSC program.

Want to watch Brightpoint’s 2024 Commencement Ceremony? Check out the video recorded during our livestream

Enjoy photos taken at the event and a video highlighting the festivities