Graduation: the start of something great

Notes of Pomp and Circumstance in the air. Caps and gowns lining up. Faculty beaming with pride. Families gathered to celebrate.

All sure signs of an impending graduation ceremony. Until 2020, these things happened like clockwork at Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College every May. After two years of virtual events, the Pomp and Circumstance signaled the return of in-person graduation ceremonies.

People tend to think of graduation as the end — the end of an era, the end of an academic journey, the end of a student’s time with us. We often forget that commencement is the start of something, not the end. For our students, graduation is just the beginning, and that’s something to celebrate!

This year we will be celebrating 336 MCC graduates and 204 ECC graduates. The success stories are as unique as the individuals.

The graduating classes at MCC and ECC included:

• Dedicated high school students who earned community college certificates or degrees while also earning their high school diplomas. Our youngest graduate just turned 17.

• “Traditional” students who enrolled immediately following high school graduation. While this group is “traditional,” it includes students who excelled in high school, those who struggled or were disinterested in high school and some who only pursued higher education to continue a love of athletes.

• Immigrants whose first step on their community college journey was learning English before excelling in college classes.

• Adult students who carved out time between work and family to attend class. These adults brought both the struggle of balancing life and school as well as rich life experience to our classrooms. Our oldest graduate is in her 50s.

• International students who left their home countries to study in the United States and found a home at MCC or ECC.

One of our Honors students who is graduating deserves a special mention, Annalissa Haubrich Vance. She was selected to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship which is one of the most competitive transfer scholarship programs in the country. Because of her academic success, which was achieved during pregnancy and caring for a newborn, she has earned a scholarship that will cover costs for her bachelor’s degree, and also for her master’s degree.

At Iowa Valley, we are excited to be the start of so many beginnings, and we are honored that the students who graced our halls chose to begin their journey with us. Hats off to our graduates — we can’t wait to see where life takes you!


Kristie Fisher is the chancellor of the Iowa Valley Community College District.


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