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MCC Commencement returns with two ceremonies

There was a hum of excitement filling the Baxter Arena on May 14.

After canceling the 2020 graduation commencement ceremony, Metropolitan Community College returned with two ceremonies, giving students who graduated last year and this year the chance to celebrate their achievement and walk across the stage.

It looked a little different than usual, but excitement still filled the air. Students were escorted to their seats by ushers. Chairs were socially distanced and everyone wore face coverings that could be removed only when crossing the stage.

Despite the changes, students and their families were thrilled to celebrate their milestones.

Kayla Shullaw graduated with her Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy. She says that the COVID-19 pandemic changed her education, but didn’t derail it. Her courses were moved online and while it took adjusting, she says she was able to persevere.

“We were pulled from clinicals last year so that was hard,” Shullaw says. “But I think it really made us better students. It gave us the time for self-growth.”

During both ceremonies, two graduates were given the opportunity to speak.

Connie Taylor, an MCC employee and nontraditional student receiving her degree in General Studies, shared how she was graduating at the same time as her 20-year-old grandson.

“After high school, he was already halfway done with his associate degree. He is 20 and earned his associate degree today. My story is a little different,” Taylor says.

Taylor moved to Omaha nine years ago and began working at MCC. She says she would see students of all ages and all walks of life finishing their education. It inspired her.

“MCC represents an educational pathway for so many different people in so many parts of their lives,” she explains. “I hope you can continue your education in any way you can. It’s never too late, and I think I can say that with confidence.”

Jessica Hua, a Millard South High School graduate, earned her Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts-Transfer at the same time through the Early College program, a dual enrollment opportunity granted to students through MCC. She will be attending Creighton University in the fall. She spoke to the graduates as well, saying that while the past year has been tough for many.

“This year was unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Hua says. “No one walks into school expecting to learn online the next day, the next week, or the next month or most of the next year.”

Despite the changes, Hua says, it showed a certain strength in everyone graduating, and that is something to celebrate.

“To think we all had the strength to be here,” Hua says. “The strength. The tenacity. We made it out on top. We got through It, and that is a huge accomplishment.”

To see more coverage of MCC graduation, visit, or check out Instagram @mccneb.