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by I.C. Murrell | May 15, 2022 at 3:11 a.m.
SEARK College President Steven Bloomberg, left, and technical studies/workforce development dean Lyric Seymore award Myles Williams his associate of applied science in computer information systems. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

This is the ninth of 14 entries in a series highlighting Jefferson County high school and college graduates.

For some, the journey was emotional. For all, the moment was pure happiness.

A total of 366 Southeast Arkansas College students either received an associate's degree or certificate of proficiency Friday night at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Nine more walked across the arena stage as high school graduates.

It was the first time since December 2019 SEARK held commencement at the downtown arena.

Many of the graduates returned to school after years away. Some are already parents. Some just needed a change in careers. All, perhaps, just wanted to better their lives.

Twenty graduates of SEARK's nursing program enjoyed their second commencement of the day. That afternoon, they participated in a pinning ceremony at New Community Church on North Birch Street.

During the nighttime commencement, State Rep. Ken Ferguson, D-Pine Bluff, preached a message of persistence for all the graduates.

"One of the most important ingredients that some people miss is that you must have persistence," Ferguson said. "I want you to seek wise counsel. I want you to understand that failure is not final. I want you to have a portrait or a vision of persistence. I want you to have a reverence for God, an appreciation for God."

Ferguson referred to Proverbs 11:14, which reads in the New King James Version: "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."

One by one, the graduates received their diplomas, certificates or degrees, having gone through their own academic counsel. Whether they shed tears of joy or just couldn't keep a smile off their faces, the spring class of 2022 walked into their own bliss of achievement.

  photo  A SEARK graduate tries to hold back tears before receiving her degree as administrative assistant Jenny McVay helps with the graduation. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Qunisha Parker, left, receives a nursing pin during a ceremony at New Community Church. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  A young family member pins new nurse Cristye James. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  State Rep. Ken Ferguson, D-Pine Bluff, delivers the keynote address. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Kanesha Thurman smiles as she receives her degree. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  This design was among a bouquet of mortarboards that decorated the graduates' seating area. The cap reads: "She Believed; She Could; So She Did." (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  SEARK College officials including (second from left) Barbara Dunn, executive director of institutional advancement and community relations; and (third from left) Lozanne Calhoun, vice-president for student affairs, congratulate the graduates as they exit the arena. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

Print Headline: SEARK RECOGNIZES 366


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