‘They are really supportive here in whatever you do’

Iowa Central celebrates its graduates during 52nd annual commencement

-Photo by Hans Madsen Iowa Central Community College about to graduate student April Connolly holds onto her mortar board Thursday afternoon as she walks toward commencement with about 500 other students.

FORT DODGE — Moises De La Cruz, of Storm Lake, is feeling good about what he accomplished at Iowa Central Community College.

Not just from an academic perspective, but from a wellness standpoint, too.

“On Jan. 1, I weighed 280 and now I’m down to 198,” De La Cruz said prior to the college’s 52nd annual graduation ceremony. “I’ve focused a lot more on health.”

De La Cruz was one of 501 students to walk across the stage inside the Dr. John E. Hodges Fieldhouse to receive a degree Thursday.

He attributes his success in and out of the classroom to the support he received from staff.

-Photo by Hans Madsen Iowa Central Community College engineering and computation instructor Neil Peterson gives his wife Tara Peterson a hug Thursday afternoon after she received her diploma during commencement.

“They are really supportive here in whatever you do,” De La Cruz said. “All the instructors I had were very friendly.”

He said his classes were enjoyable overall, but said he’s “glad to be done with stats.”

De La Cruz said his next step in life will be at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he will study education and coaching.

He was joined in graduation by Storm Lake friend Logan Brown.

Brown graduated from Iowa Central’s automotive technology program.

-Photo by Hans Madsen Mitch Coleman-Hardy, from Cootamundra, Australia, heads back to his dorm room to pack Thursday night after the Iowa Central Community College commencement. “I look like I’m from Hogwarts,” he said when he saw the photograph.

Brown said he’s not done being a Triton.

“I am going to go back to school here for diesel tech,” he said. “The staff here is really friendly and will take one-on-one time with you. If you don’t like where you’re at, they will find something else for you.”

Anna Jones, of Fort Dodge, was on hand to see her son, Lucas Jones, graduate from the diesel technology program.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” she said. “This is my first one graduating from college. I have one graduating from high school next.”

Jones was standing next to Dillon Lumsden, of Fort Dodge, who will be graduating from Iowa Central next fall.

Lumsden was there to see 12 of his cheer teammates graduate.

He’s enjoyed the memories he’s had with the team.

“Winning nationals with this group,” Lumsden said. “Traveling, having fun. We went to Daytona Beach.”

He added, “This is a good school to start with. Not too big, not too small.”

Lumsden is planning to attend Iowa State University in Ames to study fashion design.

He said he might catch up with his friends later.

“We might have a team dinner later,” he said.

Jeannette Axness, of Badger, was there to watch her son, Adam Axness, graduate.

He studied diesel technology.

“He’s already got a job lined up at (K.C. Nielsen) John Deere in Humboldt,” she said. “His grandpa is a farmer. He loves farming, so as long as there’s machinery, he likes it.”

Ashton Acree, of Fort Dodge, was graduating with his associate of arts degree.

He was looking forward to singing during the commencement.

While at Iowa Central, Acree was involved in choir and Phi Theta Kappa.

“I really enjoyed the musical program here,” Acree said.

Acree plans to attend the University of Iowa in the fall to study physical therapy.

Araceli Day, of Eagle Grove, was waiting to see her youngest son, Justin Day, graduate.

“We are very proud of him,” Day said.

She said her son took advantage of opportunities at the North Central Career Academy in Eagle Grove.

“Iowa Central has been extremely good to my son,” Day said.

Justin Day will be furthering his education at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls to study computer science.

During the commencement, Dan Kinney, president of Iowa Central, encouraged graduates to stay in touch.

“Even though you are graduating, you’re always welcome here,” he said.

Rochelle Green, the college’s photography program coordinator, and Janet Hilbert, a custodian at the college, were the recipients of the Golden Triton Award.

“Without her I would not have been as prepared,” one student wrote about Green.

Another student wrote that Hilbert, “Spent her own money to make sure we all had Christmas gifts.”

State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, offered some financial advice during his commencement address.

“Start saving early,” he said. “Start with a Roth IRA.”

During her speech, Lexi Jeno, student senate president, said, “I will never forget my experience here.”

She added, “As you go out into the world, never forget what helped shape you.”

Emma Degner, All-Iowa Academic Team and All-U.S.A. Academic Team nominee, was grateful for her experience.

“During my time in the dental hygiene program, my peers have been more supportive than I could ever ask for,” she said. “Iowa Central has provided me with the most stable stepping stone I could ask for.”