These near summer-like days filled with glorious sunshine and warmth are a perfect setting for relaxation and even some reflection. Here at North Idaho College we just celebrated the Class of 2012 with a wonderful commencement ceremony during which more than 1,000 graduates were honored. And while each has a unique story, there are some which I believe demonstrate the spirit, conviction and commitment of students at North Idaho College.
There is Aaron Seeds-Reynoso: a student who got his start in the I-BEST Program (Idaho Basic Education & Skills Training) and moved into the Machining Technology Program. Aaron exemplifies determination, effort, and success in aspiring to reach goals and dreams, which at one time, seemed far out of reach. Aaron started his post-secondary career by enrolling in I-BEST. The director of his machining program, Doug Anderson said, "I firmly feel a story such as his (Aaron's) shines a light on the success attainable for those who have had a rough start by working through I-BEST and our PTE Programs." Aaron not only did all the work required to complete his first year Machine Tech certification, he successfully completed his GED, held down a full-time job and supported his family, which includes two small children! His instructors say it was rare for Aaron to miss class but when he did, it was to care for a sick baby. Aaron is quick to credit his wife for his success here at NIC and he's thrilled that she'll be a part of the NIC student body starting in the fall of 2012. Molly Kreyssler, who is coordinator of the I-BEST program here at NIC, has this observation about Aaron. "He emerged as a leader in the classroom early on. He continually was a friend, leader and role model for the younger students and for all of us. I am proud to have him be part of I-BEST and the NIC community. Simply put, we are all better people because we know Aaron."
Another graduate I'd like to introduce to you is Wesley Saunders. Wesley earned his associate of science degree, and I say earned, as he carried 21 credits this past semester and not only did he pass, he did so with a 4.0 grade point average. Very impressive! Wesley will transfer to the University of Idaho this fall, enrolling in the Lionel Hampton School of Music as a junior. He plans to complete his undergraduate education at the University of Idaho then go on to pursue a Master's Degree in Music. Wesley was an active member of student government through ASNIC (Associated Students of North Idaho College) as an orientation leader. He was active in our Outdoor Pursuits program and of course refining and performing his incredible talents in piano and voice. In fact, Wesley has performed with the Cathedral Choir of Spokane, Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, music camps, and recently rendered a wonderful solo as part of the NIC Wind Symphony at the Annual Mother's Day Concert in the Coeur d'Alene City Park. Wesley credits the unique environment at North Idaho College for setting his future on a course towards success. "This kind of performance opportunity never happens at a music school, even at a four year school. This only happened because I know my teachers and they knew me as a person and as a musician, and because my teachers are very kind and want the best for me as a student and so they gave me this very unique opportunity."
Wesley, it has been our pleasure to have you here as a student and as a musician. Wesley echoes what so many of our students say to us as they reflect back on their education at NIC, "I would come to NIC any day over any big, four year institution even if it's in the Ivy League... I will never forget the time I have spent or the people I have met here at NIC."
Wesley and Aaron, neither will I.
Priscilla Bell is the president of North Idaho College. Comments on this column or any other can be submitted by emailing: PresidentsColumn@NIC.EDU.