May 15, 2006
More than 1,280 candidates for graduation participated in HACC's 41st commencement ceremony on Monday, May 15, in the Giant Center, Hershey. Another 550 additional students participated in a mid-year graduation that HACC held in December.

The 2006 commencement speaker, Douglas Neidich, addressed graduating students from all of HACC's locations in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Gettysburg and York. The entrepreneur and inventor is the general manager of Amphenol InterCon Systems, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of high-density, high-speed electronic interconnection systems. Neidich founded InterCon in 1987 and sold it to the Amphenol Corporation in 2005.

Neidich also serves as chief executive officer of Powers & Associates, a real estate development company engaged in the rehabilitation of existing buildings and areas in the Central Pennsylvania region. From working-class roots in Steelton, Pa., he has achieved academic distinction and career success and now uses his accomplishments as the basis for community service and educational aid to tomorrow's leaders.

Also addressing the candidates for graduation was student speaker Erica Allison-Brawnalynn Hogan. Hogan graduated with an associate degree in elementary education from the Harrisburg Campus. A member of the 2006 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team, she is active in the Alpha Nu Omega Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, has served as co-chair for the Food Bank Committee and organized a multi-campus and several community food drives benefiting the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg.

Hogan hopes to become an elementary school teacher, work with special needs children and focus on improving after-school programs.

Following the speakers, HACC President Edna V. Baehre, PhD and Ronald Brown, PE, chair, HACC Board of Trustees, conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service degree on Robert Ortenzio. A highly regarded business leader throughout the nation, Ortenzio co-founded Select Medical Corporation, a privately held company headquartered in Mechanicsburg. Select Medical currently employs 20,000 people throughout the United States.

"In addition to his considerable accomplishments as a business executive and leader, Bob Ortenzio has played a significant role in our community through major philanthropic projects, including the recently completed Select Medical Health Education Pavilion on HACC's Harrisburg Campus," Dr. Baehre said. "He and Select Medical actively supported this major undertaking and took a responsible role in addressing the growing shortage of health care professionals and attracting, inspiring and educating the caregivers of the future."

While their programs of interest can vary from nursing and business administration to general studies, all HACC graduates have one thing in common-an appreciation for their education.

Lourdes Molina came to the United States in 2003 to earn an education that would benefit her when she returned to her home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Only 25 at the time she arrived, she spoke little English, but found HACC staff and professors to be very supportive of her goal.

"I learned so much from them and the books they gave me. It was amazing," she said of her education. "I really appreciated the wisdom they shared with all the students and me."

Molina's plan from the beginning was to get an education in the United States, return to her home and teach the same things she was taught here.

"We don't have the higher education that is offered here in the United States," she said. "There are so many ideas that I want to bring home that I got from HACC."

Molina, who lost her mother when she was 17, believes that understanding what it means to persevere is what led to her success.

"I have a saying - if you want it, you can get it. It is a matter of believing you can do it."

HACC has more than 25,000 alumni in this region. Today, the college educates more than 16,000 students in degree-seeking programs and more than 55,000 in workforce development and community education courses. Like their predecessors, more than 95 percent of HACC students plan to continue to live and work within 25 miles of their campus.

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