SLCC Graduates Encouraged to Find “Opportunity in Every Challenge” at 2018 Commencement Ceremony

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New England Patriots wide receiver Malcom J. Mitchell offers graduates "keys to success" in his keynote speech to graduates.

Malcom J. Mitchell

Malcom J. Mitchell

Don’t let other people’s opinions drag you down, even when they say you’re wrong. Follow your intuition in your heart – it somehow already knows what you truly want to become.

More than 3,600 graduates, ranging in age from 16 to 69, were honored Friday morning at the Maverik Center in West Valley City during commencement exercises for Salt Lake Community College. This year’s graduates include 1,553 students who are the first in their families to receive college degrees and 144 military veterans.

Most of this year’s graduates earned degrees from the school’s General Studies program followed by business, nursing, psychology, computer science, criminal justice and health sciences.

The event’s keynote address was given by New England Patriots wide receiver, 2017 Super Bowl Champion and award-winning children’s book author Malcom J. Mitchell, who reminded graduates that while the “climb to the top of the mountain” is full of challenges, every challenge provides an opportunity.

Mitchell shared a story about how his mother inspired him to keep playing football when he wanted to quit. He talked about overcoming numerous injuries to eventually become a Super Bowl champion with the Patriots. The four keys to success, he said, are simply to do what you say you’re going to do, be on time, say ‘thank you,’ and treat every day as a new opportunity. “When you follow these steps, you won’t have to find success, I promise you,” Mitchell said. “Success will begin to look for you.”

Also, during the event, SLCC Association President Aynoa Rincon encouraged her fellow graduates to keep learning and “never to lose faith in life.”

“Learn new languages, new cultures, travel, help and serve your community, learn how to work with other people who have a different perspective from yours and respect them the same way you would like to be respected,” Rincon said. “Don’t let other people’s opinions drag you down, even when they say you’re wrong. Follow your intuition in your heart – it somehow already knows what you truly want to become.”

SLCC President Dr. Deneece G. Huftalin also addressed the graduates. “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love,” she said. “It will not lead you astray. I hope throughout your life you will find a way to tap into the magnetic force of what you really love and let it silently guide you.

In addition to recognizing its 2018 graduates, SLCC awarded Ashok Joshi and Pam Perlich with honorary doctorates. Both have made significant contributions to SLCC and the community over the years. Joshi is a past SLCC trustee and most recently served as the executive director of Technology Holding, LLC. Perlich is currently serving as Director of Demographic Research at the Kem C. Gardner Institute at the University of Utah. She previously taught economics at the U of U and Westminster College.

Angela H. Brown, executive director of SLUG Magazine and Manoli Katsanevas, owner of Manoli’s restaurant were honored with SLCC’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition, three college faculty members, Gordon Storrs, Dr. Kristen Taylor and Dr. Deidre Tyler, received this year’s SLCC Teaching Excellence awards.

Several students were also individually recognized with the college’s 2018 Graduates of Excellence awards. Honorees include Aaron Hornok, Alondra Melendez Rivas, Blake Hrubes, David Johnson, Ethel Wilson, Febechukwu Megwalu and Nathan Le Duc. Also receiving special recognition was Utah State Senator Evan J. Vickers, who was named as SLCC’s Legislative Champion.

Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, comprehensive community college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Home to more than 60,000 students each year, the college is Utah’s leading supplier of workforce development programs. SLCC is also the largest supplier of transfer students to Utah’s four-year institutions and a perennial Top 10 college nationally for total associate degrees awarded. The college is the sole provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area, with multiple locations, an eCampus and nearly 1,000 continuing education sites located throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Personal attention from an excellent faculty is paramount at the college, which maintains an average class size of 20.

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