Gazette opinion: Billings grads celebrate 1,155 degrees of success

2014-05-02T00:00:00Z Gazette opinion: Billings grads celebrate 1,155 degrees of success The Billings Gazette
May 02, 2014 12:00 am

More than 1,100 graduates will claim their hard-earned degrees Saturday in Billings.

The 2014 graduates of Rocky Mountain College represent the largest annual number ever. The 240 graduates include 12 who will receive master of educational leadership degrees in June and 31 who will receive master’s degrees in the physician assistant program in August.

Three RMC graduates will receive combined bachelor/master degrees in accountancy Saturday and one grad will receive an associate degree.

At Montana State University Billings, Saturday’s commencement program includes 915 graduates. City College will confer 255 associate degrees. The College of Allied Health Professions will confer 123 degrees, including 36 master’s degrees. The College of Business will confer 99 degrees. The College of Arts and Sciences will confer 295, including 22 master’s degrees. The College of Education will confer 143 degrees, including 69 master’s degrees.

Among hundreds of graduates in the class of 2014, MSUB will honor five with the Outstanding Graduate Award. These honorees are not only models of academic excellence, they have demonstrated leadership and remarkable community involvement – all while completing their college degrees.

 Tarah Jurenka of Rudyard graduates with an associate degree in radiologic technology from City College of MSUB. She served as a tutor and student ambassador, volunteered at career days and in community service projects with Tumbleweed Runaway Program and Salvation Army. Jurenka plans to work this summer at St. Vincent Healthcare and begin the health administration program at MSUB in the fall.

 Jennifer Larson, captain and starting center-back for the Yellowjackets women’s soccer team, also volunteered with Special Olympics, Eagle Mount, Billings Food Bank, Montana Rescue Mission Women and Families Shelter and local animal shelters. A health education and Spanish major from Arizona, Larson plans to play semi-professional soccer with the Sedona FC Strikers.

 Cory Lovec of Ekalaka worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant at MSUB as well as serving as editor of the campus newspaper. He plans to take his degree in chemistry, physics and mathematics to the University of Montana School of Pharmacy and earn two doctoral degrees in preparation for a research career.

 Harrison “Jack” Hepp of Worland, Wyoming, has been a campus leader. In addition to serving as vice president for the College of Business Student Advisory Board, Hepp has been involved in student body government, student activities, campus newspaper and is a resident assistant for housing. He is also doing an internship with MasterLube as he completes his degree in business administration and marketing.

 Thomas Staffileno, a graduate of Billings Senior High, is service project coordinator for the MSUB Office for Community Involvement. He has helped Student United Way and numerous other service projects. Staffileno will stay at MSUB with a new job in the admissions office and plans to eventually earn a master’s degree.

One of the ways that RMC recognizes its traditions of service and holistic education is through baccalaureate, a religious ceremony meant to welcome people of all faiths. Writing recently in the RMC student newspaper, Emma King provided this insight from RMC Chaplain Kim Woeste: Baccalaureate “opens the door for recognition that graduation is not just an academic achievement. At Rocky, we talk about educating the whole person – mind, body, heart, spirit.”

We congratulate all the college graduates of 2014. We invite them to consider starting or continuing their careers in this region. If they choose to leave for a while, Billings will always welcome them home again.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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