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UCC Graduates Celebrate, Stick Together

Rachael McDonald

More than 400 students graduated from Umpqua Community College in a ceremony Friday. At the start of the school year, the Roseburg campus was shattered after a gunman opened fire in a writing class, killing 9 people and himself. But the community came together to heal.

Dressed in green gowns and mortarboards, the graduates were joyful as they received their associates’ degrees. Governor Kate Brown told them she’s proud of their success in the face of tragedy.
Brown: “Class of 2016, today is proof of your resilience, leadership and dedication. You’re the light emerging from behind dark clouds and your light is shining brightly for all to see. You are the future of this community and this state.”
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, a Roseburg native, also addressed the grads. He joked that he’s not the usual commencement speaker. But he said the UCC campus, where he was once a student, is important to him.

Credit Rachael McDonald
Douglas County Sheriff talks with graduates after the ceremony.

Hanlin: “Graduates, you have been exposed to a school year that could understandably derail anyone’s graduation plans. The tragedy of October 1st brought all of us to our knees and it resulted in some of the darkest days in the history of this state.”
Hanlin received a standing ovation. He’s been credited for helping the community to heal after the shooting. Megan Lawson graduated from the nursing program. She says it was a tough year.
Lawson: “I think it was for everybody. But we stuck together, we supported each other and that’s what we needed to move on.”
Fellow nursing graduate Eden Miller agrees. She’s from Eugene.
Miller: “I came to this community and didn’t really know what to expect and I have seen people lift each other up and come together. I know everybody says, the community came together, but it’s really true, having lived it. We’re a very strong group of people.”
The mood of togetherness and joy permeated the commencement ceremony. The Umpqua Singers summed it up…


Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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