Last Thursday, on May 11, 2023, Sampson Community College (SCC) held its Spring 2023 commencement ceremony for over 300 graduates enrolled in the Associate in Applied Science and College Transfer programs. The occasion marked the College’s fifty-sixth commencement, and its second in-person ceremony since COVID-19.

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Associate in Applied Science graduates.

This year, SCC saw 259 Associate in Applied Science degree & diploma and College Transfer program graduates, 28 Career & College Promise (CCP) graduates, and 38 Sampson Early College High School (SECHS) graduates, for a grand total of 325 in the Class of 2023.

For both ceremonies, the order of events began with the National Anthem sung by Megan Bednar, SCC Class of 2022 & Foundation Intern, followed by the Academic Procession led by 2023 Academic Marshals: Demetra Addison, Nikita Baggett, Conner Carter, Hailey Davis, Sheyla Hernandez-Zelaya, Vanessa Juarez, Jonathan Martinez-Palma, Owen McKoy, Bryson Melvin, Amalia Parker, Dakota Warren, Latham Waters, and Cherilyn Williams.

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A few of the 2023 Academic Marshals.

Delivering opening remarks, Dr. Bill Starling, President of SCC, welcomed the 2023 graduates and their guests, followed by Larinda Haight, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. Afterwards, Taylor Hill, SCC’s Student Government Association (SGA) President, introduced the keynote speaker for the night: Dr. Thaddeus Godwin, Sr.

Godwin is a 1973 graduate of Clinton High School and a graduate of North Carolina Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Theology degree. He served in the United States Air Force as part of the Air National Guard of Pennsylvania Special Operation Group, retiring in 2006.

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Dr. Godwin used an analogy in his speech to the Class of 2023.

Godwin currently works as the pastor of Lisbon Street Baptist Church and as a Sampson County Commissioner for District 5, in addition to serving on the SCC Foundation Board, DSS Advisory Board, Rotary Club, Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, Sampson County Minitrial, Clinton Emergency Board, Economic Committee of Baptist Western Union, and Sampson County’s Three-in-One food bank ministry.

In his address, Dr. Godwin encouraged graduates to think about who had a hand in their achievements– whether God, a family member, instructor, or friend. He mentioned “who’s hand” the students were in mattered greatly, as they served as a “coxswain” to the graduates during their academic journey— guiding them and yelling “stroke” as they paddled along.

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College Transfer graduates.

Godwin commended the students in his speech, praising them for finishing their journey at SCC and “still stroking” through the tough times. Figuratively speaking, he remarked that even though the graduates, at times, may not have been able to see the “finish line,” they continued to persevere and “stoke hard,” eventually crossing it in the end.

Godwin shared, “Every time you ‘stroke’ you get one step closer to the finish line. You may not be able to see where you’re going, but you know that you’re going to get there because you believe that the ‘hand that you’re in’ is going to help you get where you need to go. [Graduation] is just like stroking, it doesn’t matter how you got there— it’s the fact that you did. I want you to ‘stroke on’ to another education. ‘Stroke on’ to a job you want to get. ‘Stroke on’ to the college you need to get to. Remember, ‘Start Here [at SCC], Go Anywhere.”

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Students take advantage of the photo booth before walking the stage.

Following the address, Marvin Rondon, Dean of Student Services, honored this year’s Outstanding Students from each of the College’s degree programs: Dioselyn Josmin Banos, Luke Thomas Barber, Ethan Bryce Bullard, Rhonda S. Campbell, Lance Jacob Tyler Daniel, Betty Draughon, Jesus A. Gomez, Kathryn Ann Harris, Haley Elizabeth Holland, Kayla Jimenez, Amani Marquis Joyner, Emily Irene Liverman, Hannah Long, Jaretzi A. Lopez, Devin McLamb, Jenna Avery McLamb, Thomas Charles Newcomb, Logan MacAllister O’Quinn, Reese Killian O’Quinn, Jennifer Owens, Alejandro Reza, Noemi Seibert, Christopher M. Shatley, Jr., Selena Chere Smith, Anna McMillan Taylor, Joseph Nelson Teachey, and James Randall Worthington.

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Many students displayed their artistic creations at the ceremony.

The Academic Excellence Award for 2023 went to Reese O’Quinn, a College Transfer program student graduating with both an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degree, in addition to high honors.

Afterwards, the Conferring of Diplomas and Degrees began as each of the graduates accepted their respective associate degree or diploma. Following the closing benediction given by Dr. Ted Thomas, Rondon and Dr. Starling returned to the stage to proudly declare on behalf of SCC’s faculty that the candidates for graduation were eligible to receive their respective degree and could officially, “Turn their tassels.”

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May 11 was a memorable day for SCC students.

Sampson CC is tremendously proud of its graduating Class of 2023. The College recognizes the hard work and dedication that has gone into completing their respective degrees & diplomas over the last few years and appreciates their strength amidst the hardships they’ve faced. SCC hopes its graduating class will continue to make the College proud in all they do, whether it’s immediately joining the workforce or continuing to a four-year institution. Congratulations to Sampson CC’s Class of 2023, the future is bright for these graduates!

For more information about Sampson CC, its programs, or how to apply, visit

To view pictures from the ceremony, visit SCC’s Google Photos link:

About Sampson Community College

Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.