SLCC Honors its 2022 Graduates at Annual Commencement Ceremony

SLCC Class of 2022 graduates celebrate their graduation at the Maverick Center in Salt Lake City.

My message to you is simple: you are enough; you are worthy; you are prepared; you belong here and anywhere else.

Today, Salt Lake Community College proudly celebrated the achievements of more than 3,400 graduates from the class of 2022 during its commencement ceremony at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

SLCC’s class of 2022 is comprised of 3,419 graduates, including 1,559 who are first-generation college students and 142 who are military veterans. The graduates ranged in age from 16 to 71, and most earned degrees from the school’s general studies program followed by business, nursing, psychology, computer science and the pre-medical health sciences.

Many of SLCC’s 2022 graduates began their college experience under difficult circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. “All of us at the college are proud yet humbled by the grit and grace shown by each of our graduates,” said SLCC President Dr. Deneece G. Huftalin. “Members of the class of 2022 have met challenges with determination and perseverance, inspiring all of us.”

Keynote speaker and SLCC alumnus Samuel Ortiz, Associate Director for Campus and Community Engagement at the University of Dayton, told students, “My message to you is simple: you are enough; you are worthy; you are prepared; you belong here and anywhere else.” He encouraged students to make this their mantra whenever they find themselves in a space where they feel, or are being told, that they do not belong. “Be bold and courageous in stepping into any space and let no door be closed to you.”

During the event, President Huftalin also addressed the graduates. She encouraged them to pay attention to the energy that comes from wholeheartedness, which happens when you are deeply connected and engaged in what you are doing. “This is an unlimited source of energy which if tapped and nurtured, can propel and sustain you.” She added, “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 graduates, during the ceremony SLCC honored several college champions from the community. The college bestowed Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees to Shawn Newell and Mark and Kathie Miller. Newell, an alumnus, has deep community connections, including serving in leadership roles with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Utah Board of Higher Education and other state-wide organizations. He is also a SLCC Trustee Emeritus, received the SLCC Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2017, and is past president of the SLCC Alumni Council.

The Millers are noted Utah philanthropists devoted to education and helped expand SLCC’s Partnerships for Accessing College Education (PACE) program. The PACE program supports students from underserved communities to excel in high school and enroll in SLCC with full scholarship.

The college also paid tribute to two former students with its Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes one alumnus and one alumna for significant contributions to their communities and professions. Tashelle Wright, director of the Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Derek Dyer, founder of the Utah Arts Alliance, were both recognized during Friday’s event. Since their time at SLCC, Wright has focused on public health and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Dyer’s focus has been on strengthening Salt Lake City’s arts and culture offerings.

Also recognized was Representative Kelly B. Miles as the recipient of SLCC’s 2022 Legislative Champion Award. The award celebrates Utah legislators who demonstrate a commitment to advancing higher education. During Representative Miles’ time chairing the legislative Higher Education Appropriations Committee, Utah colleges and universities received unprecedented increases in state funding for various programs and initiatives, including many that directly benefitted SLCC’s students.

Several faculty members were also acknowledged during the ceremony. Hau Moy Kwan, Craig Ferrin and Michael Young received this year’s Teaching Excellence Awards in recognition of their commitment to providing outstanding education. The college also named Anne Canavan as its Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, an accolade recognizing quality work and a charge to develop that work into a public presentation over the course of an academic year.

Several students were also individually recognized with the college’s Graduates of Excellence Award, a prestigious distinction that recognizes hard work, commitment and selflessness. Honorees include Chamil Soufianou, Tonya Timothy, Leonardo Garcia, Brenda Johnson, Melissa Smith, Amora Floyd and Kaden Wall.

Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) is Utah’s largest open-access college, proudly educating the state’s most diverse student body in eight areas of study at 10 locations and online. The majority of SLCC graduates transfer to four-year institutions, and thousands more are trained in direct-to-workforce programs. In 2023, the institution will celebrate 75 years of providing Utahns with education and training in high-demand fields that directly contribute to the state’s vibrant economy and high quality of life.

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