HACC's 42nd commencement ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. Nearly 1250 students, including 22 from the York Center for the first time, will be graduating together from all of HACC's locations - the York Center and campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon.
"What a proud moment for us at the York Center and collegewide," said Jean Treuthart, executive director, York Center of HACC. "We're very excited that the first graduates of HACC's York Center represent the broad spectrum of students enrolled at a community college.
"The York Center opened in fall 2005, and our student population of 1,500 includes nontraditional students, first generation college students and recent high school graduates spending their freshman and sophomore years at HACC," said Treuthart.
Commencement speaker Cate Barron, managing editor of The Patriot News will share the message about "plugging the brain drain" by keeping HACC graduates in this region.
"We need the kind of firepower these students have right here in this region," Barron said in a pre-commencement interview. In addition, Barron will be giving students job advice from recent news headlines, as well as their last batch of advice before they enter the workforce or continue on to other colleges to pursue their bachelor's degrees.
Barron points to herself as someone who has stayed in the region her entire career. A Lewistown native, she has almost three decades experience in print and broadcast media. She was named managing editor of The Patriot-News four years ago, the first woman to serve in that position in the 150-year history of the newspaper. She joined the Harrisburg-based newspaper in 1985 and has served in various jobs including features editor, assistant city editor and Sunday editor.
Presiding at HACC's commencement ceremony will be HACC President, Dr. Edna V. Baehre, Ph.D., who agrees on the importance of graduates finding a home within the midstate.
"Community college students seem to be among the most determined, often because of the situations from which many of them come," said Baehre. "Some are here because of the cost benefit and knowing they can transfer to high caliber colleges and universities anywhere and not incur huge loan debts for their first two years of college. But for some, HACC is truly a gateway to a future they could not possibly have imagined. We also have a tremendous faculty and staff, committed to helping students prepare for transfer and academic success, as well as leadership opportunities.
"I truly hope many of our students will choose to stay in central Pennsylvania. Based on our history we know that nearly 85 percent of our graduates remain in the region, even if they transfer temporarily to another area to finish their bachelor's degree. They are our future teachers, nurses, business leaders, engineers and other professionals. They are our future, period," said Baehre.