Northfield, Vermont - June 4, 2011
Pomp and circumstance filled the Shapiro Field House in Northfield.
531 graduates received associate degrees from the Community College of Vermont. The largest in the school's 41 year history.
"We have a lot of younger students. We also have a lot of adult students who see that in order to keep up with the demands of the changing economy and their job changing that they need to continue their education," said CCV President Joyce Judy.
And one of the associate of business diplomas went to the school's oldest graduate ever.
"I made it, it's a good feeling," said 81 year old Jeanee Bernek.
The Greensboro resident first enrolled in college in 1971 in South Carolina. But she put her education on hold shortly after. Bernek and her husband moved to Vermont to operate the Marshfield Village Store, a business they would run for nearly three decades.
"I sort of had to put things on the back burner, I knew we had a lot work ahead of us, and I thought eventually I would get back to my classes," she said.
After selling the store, Bernek decided it was time to go back to school in 2004. She still needed 60 credits to graduate.
"It's just self satisfaction and you are learning all the time and you meet wonderful people and make friends with the other students. It's very enjoyable," said Bernek.
Bernek says getting back in the groove of attending class, doing homework and studying was a bit challenging at first. Her favorite class, business law. And despite the fact the great grandmother was nearly four times older than most of her classmates, she said they all treated her like any ordinary student. It was never other students who gave her a hard time, but her friends.
"Sometimes my friends would call and say let's go out for lunch or let's go on a hike, I would say I can't. I have a quiz tomorrow and I have to study today," she said.
Bernek's college career is far from over. She plans to begin working on earning a bachelor's degree and eventually a master's degree.
Matt Henson - WCAX-TV