Family and friends gathered with December graduates to celebrate the earning of diplomas at the Fort Riley Combined Commencement Exercise Dec. 13 at Riley’s Conference Center.
Brig. Gen Donald MacWillie, senior commander, Fort Riley, delivered the commencement address at the ceremony and gave a bit of advice to the graduates.
“Take care of what’s important in your life,” MacWillie said. “Pay attention to those things that make you happy; pay attention to your children; hang out with friends; keep healthy; play another 18 holes of golf. There’s always going to be time to do the little things.”
More than 190 students graduated this December, and, of those, about 90 participated in the ceremony.
Some graduates were not able to participate because of change in duty stations, deployment or because they finished school through distance learning, said Gary Thompson, administrative support assistant, Directorate of Human Resources.
Six of the seven schools represented on post had graduates participate at the ceremony. Those schools include the University of Mary, Upper Iowa University, Southwestern College, Central Texas College, Barton County Community College and Kansas State University. Representatives from each school presented diplomas to their own graduates.
Distance learning graduates who were not able to attend the own ceremony of their respective school could participate in the on-post ceremony as well.
December graduates included Soldiers, Family members, Department of the Army civilians, veterans, National Guard, Army Reserve and community members.
Graduates received degrees ranging from certificates to master’s degrees.
Emotions seemed to be running high throughout the ceremony.
“(I feel) relieved,” said Britta Dokes, fourth-grade teacher, Jefferson Elementary School.
Dokes spent a combined 12 years earning her bachelor’s and master’s degree in education.
“We were moving around all over the globe,” she said.
“(I feel) awesome,” said Eladio Reid, Military pay technician, dining facilities. “I mean, long hours, a lot of work, and it paid off and I’m happy.”
Reid earned a master’s degree in business administration, and plans to move forward in civil service.
“I feel like I can go on to the next step in my life,” said Krystal Clamors, student, Barton Community College.
Clamors received an associate degree in arts and plans to study elementary education.
“(I want to) teach third grade,” she said.
Fort Riley has hosted the commencement ceremony for the past 26 years. This ceremony will be No. 51, as the ceremony takes place twice a year – at the completion of the fall and spring semesters.
By Calun Reece
1st Inf. Div. Post
Calun Reece | POST
Graduates stand for recognition Dec. 13 during the Fort Riley Combined Commencement Exercise at Riley’s Conference Center.