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WNC Business

Blue Ridge Community College hosts record-setting 80th commencement

May 18, 2023 03:20PM ● By WNC Business
HENDERSONVILLE - Blue Ridge Community College hosted its 80th commencement event this morning, May 13, to honor the spring graduates of the class of 2023. Over two ceremonies, the community recognized 329 curriculum graduates, more than ever in the College’s history. Many of the graduates earned credentials in high demand professions such as healthcare, public safety, information technology, transportation, and business. Many other students earned an Associates in Arts and Science degrees to transfer credits eligible toward four-year degrees at institutions across North Carolina.

During her opening remarks, Blue Ridge’s President Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood praised the graduates for reaching the academic milestone.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment for our graduates and instructors, our community, our workforce, and everyone who calls Western North Carolina their home,” she said. “Education transforms lives, and we’re making history together today.”

This event took place in the College’s Blue Ridge Conference Hall and included opening remarks from President Leatherwood. The commencement guest speaker was Dr. John Bryant, vice president of workforce development and community affairs at UNC Health Pardee and the former superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools.

Dr. Bryant praised the graduates for their forward-thinking self-improvement through higher education.

“Each of you are here today because you’ve chosen to invest in yourself and chosen to allow Blue Ridge Community College to match and advance that investment,” he said. “Each of you are here today because you’ve chosen training, education and skills that are future proof.”

Bryant also encouraged the class of 2022 to practice “specific and intentional” gratitude after they crossed the graduation stage.

“Do not let today end without taking the time to thank the people who have helped you to achieve what you have accomplished today,” he said.

According to Blue Ridge’s Registrar’s Office, the College’s first graduation day took place on Friday, August 20, 1971, in the Henderson County Public Library. It honored 14 graduates, 13 of which attended. Over the years, Blue Ridge held ceremonies in other community spaces, such as East Henderson High, West Henderson High, Hendersonville High and Hendersonville’s First Baptist Church. In recent years, graduation day events have taken place during a single ceremony in December or two ceremonies in May. In December of 2008, a snow storm caused the winter ceremony to be canceled, and the graduates joined the spring class of 2009 to be honored publicly. In total, Blue Ridge Community College has held curriculum graduation activities on 80 unique days since its founding in 1969.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Leatherwood told the class of 2023 that she was “eager to see the incredible contributions that [they] will make to our community and world.”

“Remember that leaving the world around us better than we found it is what it means to be a Blue Ridge Community College graduate,” she added.

About Blue Ridge Community College: 
Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year, postsecondary institution that elevates the educational experience to prepare students for 21st century success in the workplace or at four-year colleges and universities. Providing real-life, affordable, and accessible education, the College offers more than 200 degrees, diplomas, and certificates; more than 200 online courses; and fast-tracked job training. To learn more about Blue Ridge Community College, visit
Source: Blue Ridge Community College