Graduates share lessons learned at VC (w/video)
Almost 400 students donned caps and gowns at the Victoria Fine Arts Center to celebrate their graduation from Victoria College on Saturday morning.
Enthusiastic friends and family members erupted with applause and cheers as their graduates filed into the packed auditorium.
The Advocate asked 10 of the graduates to share the most important lessons they learned while attending Victoria College.
Eva Thieme, 59, of Victoria, graduated with associate degrees of arts and science:
"Be involved, be serious about your studies and take advantage of tutoring at the Key Center. Some professors even tutor outside of class. Join clubs and enjoy the experience because once it's over - it's over. You're more confident when you get out. I also made good and diverse friends. My professors are my friends now."
Richard Williams, 42, of Victoria, graduated with his associate degree of science:
"My relationships with the staff, especially with the guidance counselor, Stacy Kelly, were important. She kept me on the right track - to stay positive and never give up. I'm a combat vet and a constable for Victoria County, so I know the importance of leading by example."
Michael Weissmiller, 34, of Victoria, graduated summa cum laude with his associate degree of science. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society:
"Get involved and be part of the organizations. Use resources offered - tutoring, professors and classmates - because you won't have the same access at a big four-year school."
Rae Beth Holt, 28, of Victoria, graduated cum laude with associate degrees of arts and science. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society:
"Network and use the VC Key Center if you're struggling or get behind. Build up your support network and ask when you have questions."
Dawn Dierlam, 58, of Port Lavaca, graduated magna cum laude with her associate degree of science. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society:
"Start college earlier than 40 years after your high school graduation. But if you don't, don't let it stop you. It's possible to start over and to reinvent yourself. Get involved and make connections. We all have the same problems, so study together and be supportive of each other. Most of my classmates are in their 20s, but we're good friends even though I'm older than their mothers."
Zeke Dierlam, 22, of Port Lavaca, graduated with associate degrees in arts and science. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society:
"Know your own limits and don't let all your classes suffer because of one. Learn to say no. Make sure you give equal amounts of effort to all your classes because you can't just pass one. Ask for help when you need it."
Lynn Abney, 47, of Victoria, graduated with her associate degree of science:
"This is a second career and a second degree for me. It's never too late to follow a dream - even if you've already had a full career."
Mayank Surati, 26, of Victoria, graduated with his associate degree of science:
"The best thing is the VC staff. They're very helpful, and the system satisfied my ambitions. When you work hard, you get better, and you have better opportunities."
Roilene Sullivan, 28, of Victoria, graduated with associate degrees of arts and science:
"I learned patience and how to be myself. A lot of my classes had group activities that helped me with my interpersonal skills. It helped me open up, and it helped me not to be ashamed of who I am."
Carley Stringo, 22, of Port Lavaca, graduated with her associate degree of science:
"I learned to be self-motivated. You have to be determined and work independently. It's all on you if you sink or swim. Victoria College helps you find your footing and where you're going in life."