Riverland holds commencement

Published 9:34 am Monday, May 14, 2012

It’s the end of the beginning for these bright students.

From 17- to 60-years-old, each of the 553 Riverland Community College students who graduated from Riverland’s fall, spring and summer semesters this year are about to embark on bigger challenges. For the 222 or so students who walked across the stage at Riverland’s commencement ceremony Friday night, it was enough to celebrate the accomplishment of earning a college degree.

“Yay!” Brenda Tuttle, 42, said. Tuttle was among the graduates at Friday’s ceremony. Tuttle is graduating with an associate’s degree in medical administrative assistant, and certificates for medical secretary and health unit coordinator. She’ll go on to a health unit coordinator position at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.

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Yet some students will go on to higher education. Liz Schmidt, 19, will graduate with an associate’s degree in cosmetology once her studies end in July, but she’s already planning to take business management classes next year so she can one day open her own salon.

“I know I always wanted to do (cosmetology),” she said. “I fell in love with it.”

For some, college reinforced what they already knew. Tyler Levan, 19, has done plenty of agricultural technology work growing up. He earned an Industrial Maintenance and Mechanics degree, which he’ll use to continue working at agricultural businesses.

“Now I get to become a slave to society,” Levan said with a grin.

Sara Barnes is glad to get her associate degree in Human Services. She spent about 10 years on and off working towards becoming a social worker. While she works at the Seibel Center in Austin and Thorne Crest Retirement Community in Albert Lea, the 42-year-old plans on getting a bachelor’s degree soon.

“It feels pretty (darn) good,” she said.