The graduates at North Platte Community College faced challenges in completing their courses, but perseverance paid off as Mid-Plains Community College President Ryan Purdy handed out their degrees Friday afternoon.

Although many were unable to attend the ceremony, the McDonald-Belton South Campus was bustling with students and family members celebrating their accomplishment. NPCC's social distancing measures kept guests in groups of eight, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of those in attendance.

“Graduates, you did it,” Purdy said. “This ceremony is later than you anticipated, but we wanted to make sure we could afford you this celebration for your dedication and hard work that got you here today.”

Graduate Haiden Kreber presented the commencement speech. The introduction in the program said, “It’s OK to be influenced by past experiences as long as you don’t let them define who you are.”

Kreber has overcome many obstacles, including the death of her mom at a young age.

“I grew up with a tough home life — domestic abuse, drugs, alcohol, you name it,” she was quoted in the program introduction. “It’s part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed of that.”

The woman who grew up in Sutherland shared her thoughts on graduation.

“I’ve lived in Lincoln County all my life and I never would have thought I would be here to give you all this speech today,” Kreber said. “To you instructors here at NPCC, it’s people like you make people like me work even harder.”

She thanked the faculty for sacrificing their own time and often staying late to help students succeed “and then go to the basketball games to support another student because their family couldn’t be there.”

Purdy also presented the President’s Award posthumously to Tom Gorman, “Mr. Mid-Plains,” for his 50 years of service to the college. Gorman’s wife, Lynda, accepted the award.

“The President’s Award is a wonderful honor for the community college,” she said. “But he would be the first to acknowledge that he never would have achieved this extraordinary award if not for the dedicated staff, excellent teachers and the encouragement of the administration.

“He was motivated and lucky enough to find a job he loved with all his heart, giving all he could to adult education and community service.”

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