COLUMBIA — As a stream of soon-to-be Columbia College graduates processed to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance," many who had gathered in the college's Southwell Complex raised cellphones and cameras above their heads.
The graduates, led by Faculty Marshal Joann Wayman, filed to the front of the room past a video camera that captured each individual. The video was streamed on a large screen set up on stage. Family members and friends cheered when their graduate's face appeared.
Not only was Saturday an important day for the 541 students receiving degrees, but it was the last commencement address made by the college's president, Gerald Brouder.
"Today we celebrate accomplishment," Brouder said. "We celebrate tenacity, and we honor achievement."
Brouder, who is completing his 18th year as the 16th president of Columbia College, will retire in August. Continuing a life of education and achievement was the general theme of his address.
"Today, as you bask in the warmth of achievement, begin soon to set new goals in life," Brouder said.
The ceremony continued with the conferring of the 122 graduate degrees and 419 undergraduate degrees.
Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for Academic Affairs, read the graduates names aloud and Brouder handed out the diplomas.
Heidi Hibbard's family waited anxiously for her turn on the stage — their cameras at the ready. They cheered loudly as Smith read, "Heidi B. Hibbard, Bachelor of Arts degree."
Hibbard's parents and grandparents traveled from Gilliam to watch her receive her diploma. Her sister, Haylie Hibbard, a current student at Columbia College, did not have to travel as far.
"We're excited for her to start her life," Heidi Hibbard's father, Rick Hibbard, said.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Brouder presented two students with the annual Presidential Award. This award goes to the students with the highest grade point average who have completed all their course work.
The first award went to Kaitlyn Cavanah, who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA while completing a Bachelor of Science degree.
The second award went to Hayle Marquart. She also graduated with a 4.o GPA and a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The graduation ceremony ended with a warm welcome to the new alumni by Martha Eberhard, president of Columbia College Alumni Association.
"It is my pleasure to officially induct the class of 2013 into the Columbia College Alumni Association," Eberhard said.
Eberhard concluded with "Always remember, we are Columbia College."
Supervising is Elizabeth Brixey.