Northampton Community College’s Winter Commencement 2023

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BETHLEHEM, PA – Class of 2023, I commend you for your hard work, grit and determination that has led you this moment today, your graduation,” these sentiments from Northampton Community College (NCC) President, Dr. David A. Ruth.

Loved ones, esteemed guests, and NCC faculty and staff gathered in the Bethlehem Campus Spartan Center to honor NCC’s Winter Class of 2023. The commencement ceremony was held on a sunny January 28, foreshadowing a bright future ahead for these graduates.

More than 516 students, 26 with a perfect 4.0 GPA, graduated in the winter class, many of whom graced the stage as faculty and administration who taught and mentored them watched with pride. The diverse group of graduates ranged in age from 18 to 72, hailing from Tennessee to Japan and many places in between.

Ruth shared stories of several graduates, highlighting their achievements and perseverance to reach graduation day — students like Drake Brackett, a leader on the Spartans soccer team with hopes of becoming a police officer, Judy Ortiz, who battled addiction and breast cancer as she made her way to the finish line, Hector Hernandez, the first blind person to graduate from the massage therapy program, and Katrina Danyluk, a multi-media major who is also a stunt performer!

Winter Class of 2023 graduate and this commencement’s student speaker, Lauren Harrison, acknowledged the strength of her peers. “Relationships are hard, work is hard, school is hard, life is hard, but look at what you’ve done.” She took a minute to ask her fellow graduates to congratulate the people they were sitting by in the audience. Then, she told them to think of someone who’s been a mentor or by their side through this journey, and she said, “show gratitude for those who encouraged and supported you.” Lastly, but most importantly, she said “congratulate yourself!” recognizing how important it is to “look in the mirror and see your success.”

Dr. Jim Von Schilling, English professor, talked about how students can apply life lessons to their community as they go out into the world. “A community college brings together diverse people working towards common goals, to learn, achieve and succeed. We’re all in on it here, students, faculty and staff. No one wants to hold anyone back. Our differences are treated in a positive way, as points to discuss and learn from. Let’s listen, accept, support, encourage and assist in our community because that’s what you learned to do here.”

Commencement speaker, Kassie Hilgert, CEO and President of ArtsQuest, was full of practical advice for the graduates. She wanted the graduates to know that, “Talent is not the sole indicator that determines success. The secret is persistence and passion. There’s a name for this, and it’s called grit.” She told the audience that education gives you skills, but the effort you expend matters more.

After Hilgert addressed the audience, Nicole Dusovic, studying communication design at NCC, received the President’s Commencement Scholarship in Kassie Hilgert’s honor.

At the closing of the ceremony, graduates were welcomed into our prestigious alumni association by Madeline Collis Falcone, assistant director of events & engagement at United Way of the Lehigh Valley, and a member of the Class of 2010. Falcone officially welcomed the class of 2023 to the alumni association as they shifted their tassels from the right to the left side of their caps.

Nursing graduates were also pinned earlier that day before commencement.

About Northampton Community College

With an enduring commitment to the regional community it serves and a focus on student success, Northampton Community College has developed a reputation as an institution of extraordinary distinction, earning accolades at the state and national levels for innovative programs, outstanding faculty and impressive student achievements. It counts among its successful alumni a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an Academy Award winning director as well as a host of CEOs, presidents, and leaders of business and industry. Today, Northampton Community College has locations in Bethlehem, Southside Bethlehem, and Monroe County, serving 30,000 students each year from 53 counties, 42 countries and 25 states. For more information, or to apply, please visit Follow NCC’s President on Twitter @NCCPresDaveRuth, and follow the College on TikTok @NorthamptonCC and on Instagram @NorthamptonCommCollege. Like us on Facebook at Northampton Community College.


Information provided to TVL by:
Northampton Community College
3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18020