BUTTE VALLEY >> In a polite way, soon-to-be Butte College graduate Tara Ames admitted that if she could do it, anyone could do it.
Starting at Butte College in 2005, Ames eventually failed “every single class,” gave up and dropped out of Butte to find a job, “working at jobs I hated.” She ran out of money, lived in a car and trailer, and then realized her opportunity, going back to Butte College.
“I put everything in my classes,” she told several thousand at Friday”s commencement ceremony.
That push over the edge was actually a boost to success, taking her from academic probation to being in the honor society. She told her fellow graduates that drive and that opportunity is in front of each and every person.
“Life can really be terrifying,” and you might not see the opportunities that exist, said the communications studies graduate who will transfer to Chico State University to study to be a social worker.
Before leaving the stage, Ames shared her three tips to success: Be positive; do something that scares you; and “never assume that you have no choice.”
“Choices in your life are the only thing you can control,” she said.
By the thunder of the applause that followed her off stage, Ames” message was delivered clearly.
The idea of success, responsibility and drive also danced through Butte President Kimberly Perry”s address as she read from the late Maya Angelou”s poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
To the graduates, Perry said, “You soon will be free,” but along with the freedom comes the responsibility to encourage others “to leave their cages and soar…”
Earlier in the evening, Perry told the audience that “It”s called commencement because the day truly is a beginning.”
And as is her habit, she had the graduates stand up, face the filled grandstand and show their gratitude for the support that parents, friends, and faculty delivered.
Just after that she took a “selfie” photo with the two banks of graduates, encouraging listeners to check out the Facebook post with the photographs.
Saying she loved data, Perry shared nuggets, including there were graduates with senior citizen credentials.
“It”s never to late to earn a degree.”
What brought “awwws” from the audience were these stats about the graduates: five brother and sister pairs, four husband and wife pairs, seven teams of cousins, two father-daughter partnerships, plus one mother daughter duo.
Not the least of the data she delivered was that there were 12 students with 4.0 grade point averages, and 180 more women graduates than men.
She also noted that there were 1,555 degrees given to students from the U.S., six other countries, 15 other states, and 140 cities in California. Many of the graduates were transferring to four-year institutions, she noted.
Also as tradition, the evening included the announcement of the teacher of the year, chosen by the students. This year biology instructor Mike Williams was named.
At the bottom of the program, a small note encouraged graduates and guests to share their photographs and comments at #BCGRAD2014 on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.