For the first time in decades, Sandhills Community College was forced to seriously contend with the very real threat of thunderstorms forecasted to be at their worse during the time the Commencement Ceremony was scheduled. That is not an issue for colleges with an arena or large gymnasium, but SCC holds graduation outdoors.

One day prior, the forecast showed a 75% chance of rain during the very time thousands would gather on the Boyd Library Green. If it were to be carried out in Owens Auditorium, many friends and family would be turned away due to limited seating.

After meeting with several key players from Student Services, President Dempsey gambled that luck would be on the college’s side and chose to proceed with the outdoor ceremony. His intuition paid off, and the rain came several hours before the arrival of guests. The only inconvenience was drying the seats before participants and the audience arrived.

After a welcome by Student Government Association President Jessica Quint and President John Dempsey, Chairman of the Board of Trustees George W. Little gave a welcome from the Board of Trustees. He pointed out that Trustee Jim Saunders would be receiving a degree from the college that day.

Distinguished Alumnus Michael Cotten

Michael L. Cotten, the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner, was recognized by Vice President Rebecca Roush.

After working in prison administration for almost 30 years, Michael L. Cotten of Carthage retired from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. In 2008, he began at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and currently serves as the Branch Director. Under his leadership, the Food Bank distributed nearly five million pounds of food last year.

After graduating from Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek NC, Cotten attended Sandhills Community College where he earned an Associate in Applied Science in Human Services. He then earned a Bachelor of Science from Gardner-Webb University.

Cotten has served on the Advisory Board of the Moore County Cooperative Extension, is the immediate Past Lieutenant Governor for Division 10, Region 5 of the Carolina’s District of Kiwanis International, a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pines, and is a charter member of the Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative.

Cotten gave the graduates a word of encouragement after being presented with the award.


Student Awards

Several awards were bestowed upon graduates. The Mary Luman Meyer Award was presented to Darell Thomas Yates. Awarded to the student who contributed most to the life of the college during their two years at Sandhills, Yates earned an Associate in Applied Science in Health and Fitness Science. He offered weekly boot camps and fitness classes to students and college employees, was an active member of Rotaract, and an assistant basketball coach. Yates is a military veteran, husband, and father of four young children.

The Faculty Award was presented to Zezva Liluashvili for outstanding character and academic achievement. Liluashvili earned a 3.92, was a leader of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, played on the basketball team, was awarded scholarships for his stellar academic performance, and is an international student, hailing from the country of Georgia.

Camden Roman Hart was presented with The President’s Award. Beaulieu had the highest academic average with the most credit hours earned. As such, he was the Valedictorian of the Class of 2017.

Following the awards presentation, graduates crossed the stage to receive their degrees. Approximately 440 students participated in the event this year. Sandhills awarded 521 degrees, 48 diplomas and 97 certificates to 665 graduates.


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