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NOC holds commencement exercises in Tonkawa

Emma Valgora

NOC’s Emma Valgora carries the NOC Institutional Flag at Commencement Exercises last Saturday.  (photo by Shiloh Martin/Northern Oklahoma College)

NOC holds commencement exercises in Tonkawa

Northern Oklahoma College Students at the Tonkawa campus went through graduation exercises at the 117th Annual Commencement Saturday at Foster-Piper Fieldhouse.

A total of 653 graduates and 675 earned degrees at the two ceremonies.

NOC Vice President for Academic Affairs Diana Watkins opened the ceremony, congratulating the students on reaching their goals for the academic year.

“For many of you, today’s achievement came with many challenges,” she said.  “It required flexibility, resilience, and sacrifice.  Your strength of character will serve you well in your future.”

Watkins also announced students that maintained a 4.0 GPA and those that earned two associate degrees.  She also introduced the Flag Bearers for each academic division.

They include the following at NOC Tonkawa:  Institutional-Emma Valgora; Agriculture and Biological Science-Kale Campbell; Business-Marko Maderas; Fine Arts-Cole Mason; Health, Physical Education, and Recreation-Samantha Smith; Language Arts-Hannah Lake; Mathematics-Francez Darlene Marasigan Fernandez; Nursing-Emily Smith; and Social Science-Lexie Boyer.

President Dr. Clark Harris introduced special guests at the ceremony and then presented the class for the conferring of degrees.

The speaker for the commencement ceremony was Ken Bellmard, Distinguished NOC Alumni in 2015.

“In the long run, it doesn’t matter what they call your generation,” Bellmard told the graduates.  “My elders were just as confused about my generation as your elders are as confused about yours today.  They couldn’t understand the music we listened to, the things we were reading, and the movies we were watching.”

Bellmard said that will be the same in 45 years when elders look at this year’s generation of graduates.

“What the two generations share is our common experience of the journey that led us to our graduation,” he said.  “You have flourished in a time of a world-wide pandemic and I urge you to reflect on what you accomplished today.”

“As you reflect on today, think about the challenges you overcame,” he said.  “For some it may be financial, person problems, or problems with your studies.  Think of the times you were supported by classmates, teammates, administrators, and instructors.  Look around and notice the diversity of those that are sharing this day with you.”

“Your graduation proves that you are a self-reliant goal oriented individual,” he added.

He cautioned the graduates that history teaches that things do not remain the same and they need to anticipate the challenges of the future.

“Your time at NOC has certainly been life-changing,” he told the graduates.  “This has been great preparation for what you face now.”

He concluded by telling students to “be your own influencer.”

The NOC Concert Band performed the Armed Forces Salute and the college choir performed “You Will Reap What You Saw.” After the candidates for graduation were announced, the college choir performed NOC’s Alma Mater.

Enid and Stillwater graduates went through exercises at NOC Enid in the afternoon.

Northern Oklahoma College, the state’s first public two-year community college, is a multi-campus, land-grant institution that provides high quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities and services.

NOC serves nearly 4,000 students through the home campus in Tonkawa, branch in Enid, and NOC/OSU Gateway Program in Stillwater.  Of these students about 80% receive financial aid and/or scholarships. 75% of NOC students complete their degree with zero debt.

The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers associate degrees in three general areas: Arts, Science and Applied Science; the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs; and the Accreditation Commission for Education and Nursing.

For more information about Northern Oklahoma College please call (580) 628-6208 or visit the NOC website at