PCC returns to in-person graduation ceremony

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – More than 120 students walked across the stage at the Greenville Convention Center on Friday to get their diplomas.

Pitt Community College’s fall commencement was big as it was held in person after two years, and was the college’s first fall commencement.

“We’re back and better than ever,” Dr. Thomas Gould said. “In fact, this is our first fall commencement ceremony ever that we’ve ever held, and so we thought it was a good, timely, event to celebrate and recognize our students and to show them that we appreciate their resilience in getting through their program of study during these very challenging times.”

The college graduates celebrated their achievements with loved ones one week before Christmas.

“It’s been a long time and I’m very excited,” Mageda Rizek said. “Been waiting for this for a long time. And I did it mostly for my dad, I know he’s up in Heaven, watching above.”

Rizek was cheered on by her two daughters, Loriann Rizek, 26, and Janine Rizek, 19.

“Probably one of the best role models I’ve had in my whole entire life,” Loriann Rizek said. “She’s given me everything I could ever ask for.”

As the Rizeks cheered on their mother, parents, in turn, shouted for their kids.

Sherry Smith drove from Hatteras Island to Greenville on Friday to see her daughter, Samantha Smith graduate from the Horticulture Technology program.

“It’s wonderful to see that something that she’s totally been interested in, and that she gets to get a degree in, a field that she’s gonna want to work in, it’s just fantastic,” Smith said. “You’re there, you’re in the moment. You get to see and feel the energy, you get to see her reaction and to see the reaction of the crowd and then you just, it’s more personable.”

For moms who graduated, walking across the stage meant a lot.

“What I really needed was a win and to show my children that perseverance will get you there,” Karmin Fails said. “I just want them to know the pride that you should have in yourself and that no matter how old you are, you’re never too old to accomplish your dreams.”

Pitt Community College said of the 248 students who graduated this fall, 127 are expected to participate in the ceremony.

“Collectively, they have earned 395 degrees, diplomas, and/or certificates,” PCC said.

Gould said next year, the college plans to invite not only the 2022 spring graduates but invite back their 2020 and 2021 graduates to give them an opportunity to walk across the stage.

Those who attended the fall commencement were required to wear masks inside.

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