Thirty-six students who are graduating in May from the Human Services Technology curriculum at Richmond Community College were honored last week by members of the Human Services Technology Club with a banquet at the Cole Auditorium.
Family, friends, faculty, and representatives from the agencies where students perform their internships turned out for the event.
Donna Barr Phumphrey, a software engineer with Lockheed Martin and a Les Brown Platnum Speaker, was the keynote speaker. She came to honor her cousin, Andra Douglas of Rockingham, who is graduating. She is a 1980 graduate of Richmond Senior High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Winston-Salem State University and her master’s degree in information systems technology from John Hopkins University. She has lived in Maryland since 1985.
She asked how many students were like her cousin, whose life took an unexpected turn when an industry closed? She said everyone’s life takes unexpected turns and the decision of the upcoming graduates to do something to help people through their life events was something special.
“Nationwide, 15 percent of people live in poverty. In Richmond County, it’s 25 percent. That’s one in four people you see have dire needs. Their life has taken unexpected turns. They need you and your skills,” said Barr Pumphrey.
She said they had chosen a career field that was not for wimps.
“We need passionate people for these challenging times. We need innovative people who can solve today’s complex problems and make a difference in this generation. Always remember, the most powerful thing on earth is a person whose soul in on fire. Mother Theresa was one person whose soul was on fire and made great differences in this world,” she said.
She encouraged the upcoming graduates to look into themselves to find the treasure God has given them and to put it to use for others. She told them to be proud of their accomplishments, to be passionate about their goals, and to be powerful in their actions.
Each year the club has service projects that benefit either a Richmond or Scotland county organization. This year, the proceeds of their projects went to two programs: Girls Can, a program through the Richmond County Health Department aimed at helping teenage girls make wise decisions, and Backpack Pals, a nonprofit program that sends weekend meals home with 540 children each Friday. These are two of the many agencies and organizations in five counties where students perform the 360 hours of internship service required for graduation.
This was RCC Professor John Robich’s last banquet, since he is retiring at the end of the semester. He received a standing ovation from all attending for his service to the college. He said he began the program in the early 1980s and soon had over 100 student enrolled. He said numerous graduates are employed throughout the region and have made a tremendous impact on our communities.
RCC Professor Cordelia Steele was joined by Robich in giving each graduate a gift. She told the audience that she was glad to see a growing number of males in the predominately female curriculum. With so many males at risk in our society, having male role models in the human services field fills an unmet need.
Scotland area majors are Takeya Ladson of Gibson; Kari Pate of Laurel Hill; Brenda Brown, Kimmy Cannaday, Shon Elliot, Shanda Hall, Toni Poole, Lachell Washington, and Leslie Whittaker of Laurinburg; Mark Tanner and Elliott Tyson of Wagram; and Adelyn Brown of Maxton.