The Kenai Peninsula College Kachemak Bay Campus conferred 62 degrees and certificates during its 53rd annual commencement, hosted Wednesday, May 10. This year’s commencement was the first held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the first ceremony held at Kachemak Bay Campus, with previous years’ commencements being conducted at Homer High School’s Mariner Theatre.
KBC Director Dr. Reid Brewer and University of Alaska Anchorage Vice Chancellor Deanne Woodard welcomed the graduates, university faculty and staff, and audience members to the event.
“Graduates, we celebrate your achievements in this commencement ceremony and recognize this milestone in your educational and vocational journeys,” Brewer said during his welcome speech. “It truly is a milestone worth celebrating.”
Woodard illustrated the accomplishments of Kachemak Bay Campus and its students throughout the 2022-23 academic year, emphasizing that it is “important we continue to tell the stories of our students’ successes and all the work that the community at large is doing.”
“You have proven that you have what it takes to succeed through determination, hard work, and perseverance,” Woodard said. “Today you stand victorious, ready to take on the world. This is just the beginning of your journey, though.”
Dr. Paula Martin, author and former interim director of KBC, was this year’s keynote speaker.
Martin’s speech, centered on discussion of opportunity, learning and change, took a somewhat unconventional approach as Martin grounded her advice to the graduates in her experience studying entomology, illustrating her points using information and stories about insects.
“When insects interact with their environment, they constantly store and acquire new information,” Martin told the graduates in the audience. “Learning is the way to deal with a variable future. Learning sets you up to be ready when the opportunity comes along. Learning helps you identify and react to changes.
“The diploma, certificate or program of study you’ve completed, graduates, means you are more ready for a new opportunity. Congratulations on that effort, enjoy the accomplishment, and then continue your learning, whether formally or informally. You’ll meet the chance and find the opportunity,” Martin said.
During the presentation of certifications, diplomas and graduate degrees, the graduates also heard from several other University of Alaska faculty and staff, including KBC Adult Education Coordinator Michelle Waclawski, KBC Professor of Biology and Semester by the Bay coordinator Dr. Debbie Tobin, KBC Associate Professor of Psychology Brian Partridge, Dr. Peter Westley from University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Dr. Christine Ermold from University of Alaska Southeast.
After the presentation and conferral of degrees and certificates, KBC associate English professor Dr. Lia Calhoun gave a faculty reflection address, a new tradition taking place in KBC commencement ceremonies beginning this year.
Calhoun gave an anecdote about when her son was younger and “firmly entrenched in the asking-’why’ phase.” When Calhoun’s husband asked their son why he asked “why,” their son responded, “Because that’s how I know how,” Calhoun told the audience.
“I tell this story because this is the same curiosity and desire, dare I say even need for knowledge, that I see in this graduating class,” Calhoun said. “You have managed to stay curious into adulthood and I commend you for it. I want to encourage you to further foster this curiosity because it will be a powerful force in your life as you pursue your individual goals and strive to leave your mark on the world.”
Calhoun also introduced this year’s valedictorian, Elizabeth Rozeboom, who graduated summa cum laude with her Associate of Arts degree. Rozeboom and her brother Jonathan, who graduated magna cum laude with his Associate of Arts degree on Wednesday, are also graduating this year from high school.
Rozeboom centered her valedictorian speech around a quote her grandfather often said: “Enjoy the moment.”
“In life we often find ourselves living for the big things — these ceremonies, these milestones we can look back on and proudly declare we finished what we started. … But I want to emphasize the importance of a life lived in the smallest moments,” Rozeboom said. “It’s the little things that ultimately add up to something great.”
“The joy of learning is not just found in textbooks, but in the little things that give meaning and context to education,” she continued. “Life is too short to be anything but present in the moment.”
Near the conclusion of the ceremony, KBC faculty presented three student awards that are traditionally given out during commencements.
KBC Assistant Professor of History Dr. Jeff Meyers presented to Jonathan Rozeboom the 2023 KBC Staff Choice award, which “celebrates those memorable students who make our campus a wonderful learning environment with their positive attitude and commitment to the campus community.”
KBC Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Jeff Johnson presented to Elizabeth Rozeboom the KBC Faculty Choice Award, which “celebrates a student who has been an open and contributing member of their classroom communities, displaying the habits of successful learners, and being an academic role model to their peers.”
Brewer presented the KBC Director’s Choice award, which “celebrates students who manage to shine academically and take an active role in the campus community by setting a high academic bar in their class as well as adopting an official or unofficial leadership role in the campus or in the community” to Wayne Aderhold, who in addition to being a student serves on KBC’s advisory board and teaches noncredit classes on campus.
Kenai Peninsula College Director Cheryl Siemers offered closing remarks to conclude the ceremony.
“Thank you, graduates, for being here tonight. We want to thank you that you enriched us with your contributions to Kenai Peninsula College. You’re why we’re all here, and your knowledge and the things that you do are most important to us,” she said.
The commencement ceremony was followed by a reception in the Pioneer Hall commons, organized by the KBC Student Association. During the ceremony, Siemers also recognized Advising and Support Services Specialist Nancy Johnson, Community Events Coordinator Jill Burnham, and the KBCSA for their work organizing and preparing this year’s commencement and reception.
Kachemak Bay Campus Class of 2023 graduates:
High School Equivalency Diplomas
Occupational Endorsement Certificates
Associate of Arts
Elizabeth Rozeboom (summa cum laude, valedictorian)
Jonathan Rozeboom (magna cum laude)
Associate of Applied Science, Radiologic Technology (UAA)
Jamie L. Master
Bachelor of Science, Biology (UAS)
Master of Public Health (UAA)
Laura Jean Miller
Master of Arts, Education (UAS)
One Health Masters’ Degree (UAF)
State of Alaska Certification, Certified Nursing Aide
Kiana Delacruz Castillo
Associate of Applied Science, Nursing