COLUMBIA — A procession of 236 Columbia College graduates were met with friends and families' smiling faces as they walked through the gymnasium to "Pomp and Circumstance." Loud cheers erupted as loved ones saw their soon-to-be graduates. The first commencement ceremony Saturday began at noon. Altogether, 525 Columbia College students graduated Saturday.
Graduates began the day at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the Ivy Chain Ceremony, a Columbia College tradition. Covered in a continuous chain of ivy, seniors walked through the historic Rogers Gate and formed a circle on Bass Commons, on the Columbia College campus.
Seven designated graduates cut the ivy from each person, signifying that, although graduates are going their separate ways, they will always remain a part of Columbia College. The tradition has been apart of the college since 1900.
Gail Baker and her daughter, graduate Kayla Corcoran, attended the Ivy Chain ceremony.
Corcoran will be the first in her family to receive her college degree. She spent a semester in South Korea teaching English and plans to return if she cannot find a job.
There were two commencement ceremonies Saturday. U.S. Sen. Kit Bond gave the commencement speech during the first ceremony. Col. David Randerson spoke at the second one.
"All the late nights, hard work and energy drinks have paid off," Bond said in his speech.
He encouraged graduates to use their knowledge and skills to better the world. "Things are changing so fast; we need each one of you and your skills, energy and creativity," he said.
Along with receiving their diplomas, students William Tyler Moore and Adam Spudich received the Presidential Award. This award is given to students who have an accumulative GPA of 4.0 and have completed their entire course work exclusively at Columbia College.
Graduate and Cougar basketball forward Quintin Totta, received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He said graduation was a bittersweet experience. After graduation, Totta will be working in insurance sales with Platinum Services in Kansas City.
Families traveled from around the world to celebrate with their graduates. Desiree Chong's mother flew from Singapore to attend the graduation. Chong, who received a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, plans on attending graduate school in California.
Randerson gave the commencement speech for the second ceremony, which began at 3:30p.m. Randerson is the vice president for adult higher education for Columbia College. During the second ceremony, 289 students received their diplomas.
Students from the evening and day programs, along with the online programs, participated in Saturday's ceremonies.
Student Kimberly Smith, who was killed in April, would have graduated with the 2010 class and was awarded her Bachelor of Arts degree posthumously.