Kachemak Bay Campus confers degrees to Class of 2024

The commencement was held Wednesday in Pioneer Hall

The Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College/University of Alaska held commencement on Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. in Pioneer Hall in Homer.

Brian Partridge, faculty chair, began the evening by recognizing the graduates. He was joined on the graduation stage by two University of Alaska regents, Joe Crum and Steve Colligan, and keynote speaker, Dr. Rachel Kincaid, chief nursing officer at the South Peninsula Hospital.

Several levels of diplomacy were awarded, including eight high school equivalency diplomas, four Associate of Arts and two Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. Jessica Joe Moore received an Associate of Applied Science in surgical technology. Homer News reporter Delcenia Cosman received a Master of Arts/Master of Fine Arts combined degree in creative writing and literature from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Kimberly Ann Frost, lead instructional designer at KBC, completed an interdisciplinary doctorate degree in educational psychology and instructional design, also through UAF.

In Dr. Kincaid’s address, she first expressed thoughts on her role in Homer at South Peninsula Hospital and her love of providing care to the elderly, before moving on to her own experiences and memories of higher education.

“I love my job now, but I did not originally choose to become a nurse,” she said. “When I was growing up we were expected to know exactly what we wanted to with our life before we turned 18, so I settled on fashion design. I assumed that industry was waiting for me.”

After beginning school at a small liberal arts college, she soon discovered that she was not meant for fashion design, struggling through courses from drawing to garment making.

Kincaid originally arrived in Homer at age 19. Her interest in nursing began after a boating accident in Pedro Bay on the west side of Cook Inlet, during which she watched a friend receive emergency medical suturing. She was entranced with the demeanor of the person providing treatment, she said, and the event inspired the beginning of her nursing career.

After that moment she decided to return to home “in the Carolinas” and attend nursing school. She eventually received a degree in that field and expressed satisfaction with it now.

“I love being able to meet people where they are,” Kincaid said.

She eventually received a doctorate degree, graduating in May 2020. She advised the graduates to keep their minds open.

“I tell you this story to stay open to where life takes you. Do not be afraid to see your life differently as you do now. Do not be afraid to fail and fall forward. Stay humble, stay hungry, accept feedback and stay on the look out for ways to grow. Not a single one of you is average,” she said.

The faculty reflection address was provided Dr. Jeff Meyers, associate professor of history. Three graduates now have degrees from the history department, including Drew Wimmerstedt, Darnell Hidalgo and Trisha Jean Davis. These are students he has spent substantial time with and he reflected on some of those moments.

In particular, Meyers recalled Davis saying, “‘I want to graduate because I want to show that I still have something to offer’.”

“And I want to tell all of you, that what you did today, it all matters: who you are, what you’ve accomplished, the relationships that you make, the decisions that you make,” he said.

He also noted that the students who completed their degrees this semester are linked to all of the faculty and staff at KBC and the ways the members of the crew on the campus have helped them through the various processes of education.

“We’re all so proud of you. And by the way, everyone out here,” he said, referring to the audience, “they helped too. No one gets here alone.”

Davis, valedictorian for 2024, was introduced to the audience by Meyers and provided an address also.

“It was quite a surprise for me to end up here. There was nothing in my past that would have indicated I would end up here one day. I never thought getting to be a valedictorian would be a part of my story,” Davis said.

She described dropping out of high school, raising five children, joining the Air Force Reserve at 30 and staying with the military for 22 years.

“At 40, I took my first college class. A few years later I earned my RN license. When I turned 62 I told my mother my childhood dream of coming to Alaska,” she said. “If I can do this, with my beginnings, think of what you can do. Nothing is beyond you if you try.”

She congratulated all of the graduates for the degrees received on Wednesday evening.

“I couldn’t have done it without everyone else. We have this campus and staff that believes in us when we might not believe in us.”

She concluded by saying that there’s still so much to learn and she’s thinking about graduate school.

“I stand here as an adage that you’re never too old to reach for your dreams or too old to learn,” she said. Both in her address and in a conversation with the Homer News, Davis noted how much she supports seniors and older adults on campus: “Age doesn’t factor into our education.”

Davis said Thursday that she plans on taking more classes at KBC, as long as she can. She said she would really like to continue to support access to the campus by students who are of senior age. “The campus is really a great place to be and no one needs to feel like they are too old to be there.”

The evening concluded with student awards, a recessional and reception in the KBC upstairs student lounge where photos were taken and congratulations provided to the 2024 student class.

Kenai Peninsula College Kachemak Bay Campus Degrees and Certificates Conferred

High School Equivalency Diplomas

Dimitry Basargin

Lily Brown

Alexandra Casey

Irinea Fefelov

Akilina Konev

Raj Miller

Naomi Petrosius

James Preston

Associate of Arts

Mercedes Becker

Ashley Devaney

Cain Miller

Aspen Walli

Associate of Applied Science, Surgical Tech, UAA

Jessica Moore

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education

Alyssum Veldstra, UAS

Lukia Martishev, UAF

Bachelor of Arts in History, UAA

Trisha Davis

Darnell Hidalgo

Drew Wimmerstedt

MA/MFA in Creative Writing and Literature, UAF

Delcenia Cosman

PhD. Interdisciplinary Studies: Educational Psychology and Instructional Design, UAF

Kimberly Frost

Emilie Springer/ Homer News
Kachemak Bay Campus 2024 graduates preparing to enter commencement at the campus on May 8.

Emilie Springer/ Homer News Kachemak Bay Campus 2024 graduates preparing to enter commencement at the campus on May 8.

2024 graduate Mercedes Becker and KPC staff member Jill Burnham pose before the commencement event at the Kachemak Bay Campus, May 8, 2024, in Homer, Alaska. (Emilie Springer/ Homer News)

2024 graduate Mercedes Becker and KPC staff member Jill Burnham pose before the commencement event at the Kachemak Bay Campus, May 8, 2024, in Homer, Alaska. (Emilie Springer/ Homer News)