WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College president Debra Thatcher said she “joyfully recognizes” the Class of 2019 as they “position themselves for a promising and rewarding future” during Friday’s commencement ceremony.

The ceremony was held for all UCC graduates, including degrees, certificates and Adult Basic Skills, at the Swanson Amphitheatre on the main campus. It was the first time all ceremonies were held at the same time.

Emily Warren was the student speaker for the class of 2019. Warren spoke about courage, unavoidable setbacks and moving forward despite those setbacks.

“I know we have it within us to accomplish more, to do more, to be more,” she said. “I congratulate you for every courageous moment that led you here today.”

Adult Basic Skills student Madison Jones also gave a speech to commemorate her experience and with the hopes of inspiring others to seek a higher education.

She called the graduates a “vicious group of go-getters and hard workers.”

Both student speakers thanked family and friends and throughout the ceremony Thatcher encouraged the students’ supporters to join in the celebration.

“None of them have achieved this success alone,” Thatcher said.

The UCC Singers, under the direction of William McMillan, performed “I Want to be Ready” arranged by Moses Hogan during the ceremony. Eugene Highlanders Pipe Band performed while students made their way to the outdoor area at the beginning of the ceremony.

Author and retired timber worker Robert Leo Heilman of Myrtle Creek received an honorary associative arts degree from the two-year college.

“For many years Mr. Heilman has been a regular guest speaker in UCC writing classes,” Thatcher said. “Mr. Heilman is an example of what can be achieved with effort, and develop talent — even in the face of the multiple challenges and disadvantages.”

This year there was also one student, Cora Lee Morin, who is graduating simultaneously from Phoenix Charter School in Roseburg and UCC. There were eight local high school students, from Sutherlin and South Umpqua High Schools, who complete the college’s Umpqua Healthcare Career Certificate, which was developed with help of Douglas Education Service District to expose students to careers in the health care field.

UCC board members Steve Loosley, Guy Kennerly, Betty Tamm and Doris Lathrop helped in handing out the diplomas to the graduates.

“I’m proud to be president of a college with such fine students,” Thatcher said.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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