Filling the room Friday were future environmentalists, nurses, teachers, web designers, office specialists, journalists, law officers and photographers.
And then there were future farmers, auto mechanics, accountants, hotel managers, contractors, turbine specialists and welders.
This sea of blue caps and gowns filed into the gymnasium for the 2008 Spring Commencement at Iowa Lakes Community College at the Estherville campus.
Some of the students came from faraway places like the Bahamas, Down Under and the sunny side of California for the privilege to study and receive an Iowa Lakes diploma.
In his address, college President Harold Prior said that in its 40-year history, thousands of students have passed through the college’s doors, received degrees and went on to successful lives.
“It is because of you we have a very solid academic reputation,” he said to the graduates, noting they will always be proud to be a Laker grad.
John Hand, president of the board of trustees said the quality of the students represented in the class of 2008 speaks for itself.
Special recognition was made by Marian Brunsvold who announced Merwyn C. Gill, a Terril native, as the recipient of the Jim Hall Outstanding Alumnus Award. A 1929 graduate of Estherville Junior College, forerunner to Iowa Lakes, Gill is a leading American industrialist.
M.C. Gill Corporation is the oldest, continuously operating California manufacturer of reinforced plastics called composites in the world.
There were two graduates who addressed the audience.
Speaking to her classmates, Sarah Wielenga of Orange City said graduates in every program need to celebrate success and achievement of hard work. “Keep a positive attitude and if you believe you will succeed, you will!”
Crystal Lake resident LaRae Haughland is a non-traditional student who was a wife and mother before she was a college student. Two years ago she and her family made the decision it was time for her to achieve her life-long goal.
She told the class of 2008, “We have overcome many obstacles and stumbling blocks to get here. Life’s greatest accomplishments first seem impossible but we have success. With hard work, determination and drive we can accomplish anything.”