By Dawn Krebs
TREASURE COAST -- There were tears, and there was laughter. And that was just in the stands.
On a cloudy Saturday morning on May 4, Indian River State College graduated its largest class to date at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. Family and friends from St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties gathered in the stands while the graduates gathered on the field. The ceremony was shown on the stadium's large screen in the back of the field.
The graduation had originally been scheduled for Friday evening, but was cancelled shortly before it was scheduled to begin due to lightning strikes and rain.
The commencement speaker for the event was Congressman Tom Rooney, who represent Florida's 17th district. He spoke to the students on a number of different topics and gave them small tidbits of advice to take with them.
"If you want to do something, to follow your dream, do it," he urged the students. "Don't let someone else tell you that you can't do something."
More than 3,000 students earned either a Bachelor's or Associate's degree. The numbers indicated a continuing increase in the number of students graduating from the college.
This year, 441 students earned Bachelor degrees, while 2,043 students earned Associate in Arts degrees and 716 students were awarded Associate in Science or Associate in Applied Science degrees.
Also during the ceremony, 147 graduates were recognized with scholarships totaling more than $558,000 from the IRSC foundation to continue their studies.
"This is a proud day for you and your families," said Edwin Massey, the president of IRSC. "There are a number of firsts here -- the largest graduating class to date, and the first time I can remember the ceremony was postponed because of weather. Congratulations to all of you, and I look forward to seeing your accomplishments in the future."