Change not only is inevitable, but already has left an imprint both on the Pennsylvania College of Technology and its graduates.
Penn College held its first of three commencement ceremonies honoring students receiving certificates and degrees from the schools of Business and Computer Technologies, Hospitality and Transportation Technology Friday at the Community Arts Center.
The college will hold its final two ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. today.
Tiffany Vaughan and Erin Waltz take a photo of themselves before entering the Community Arts Center for their graduation ceremony Friday night. Both ladies earned associate degrees in health information.
Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, college president, said the ceremony is a "transition from who you are to who you will be."
As the institution prepares to celebrate its centennial, it has seen many changes as it began as the Williamsport Technical Institute.
"There have been many challenges in these past 100 years," Gilmour said.
But through the change, she also noted that some things have come "full circle." The Ford Model T still was new when the institute first opened its doors. Recently, the school's automotive restoration class worked with that same make of car, Gilmour explained.
Elliott Strickland, chief student affairs officer, added that history was made this year as Kierstin Steer, who delivered the ceremony's student address, became the first female basketball player to score more than 1,000 points for Penn College.
And although she achieved great feats in sports, she also received academic honors, as well.
"Kierstin is truly a scholar-athlete," Strickland said.
Steer told graduates that they must embrace change and remember how Penn College has helped to make them who they are as they go to the next stage in life. She added that graduation "is not an end, it is only a beginning."
And although they may feel nostalgia, excitement and fear, they are prepared to take on whatever challenge comes their way.
"We have earned the right to rejoice today," she said.
Gilmour agreed that students should be proud of their accomplishments.
"To the class of 2013, sit back, relax a bit and enjoy the affirmation of your success," she said.
The college also honored Dr. Gerri Luke with the Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award Friday.
"I've enjoyed every moment in the classroom," Luke said upon receiving the honor.
Michael Patterson and Susan Slamka also will be honored with distinguished teaching awards today. Alumni awards will be given to Jennifer Brinkley and Robert Capps.
Gilmour also announced Friday that the family of Michael Storm Fischer, who passed away early in the fall, will receive his degree today. She said it is with "sadness but tremendous pride" that she presents his family with his degree.
Before closing the ceremony Friday, Gilmour gave the graduates one final piece of advice: "Play by the rules but set your own course."
"Congratulations and please go out into the world and make us Penn College proud," she concluded.