​It was a perfect spring day at York College campus on Saturday as over 90 students graduated during the morning’s commencement ceremony. Held in the Campbell Student Activity Center, the seats and bleachers were filled with proud parents, excited family members, and eager graduates ready to receive their degrees.

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Ben Sasse, U.S. senator representing the great state of Nebraska, gave the commencement address. A fifth-generation Nebraskan, Sen. Sasse was born in Plainview and grew up walking beans and detasseling corn, experiences that taught him the value of hard work. Sasse graduated from Harvard University in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in government. He graduated from St. John’s College in 1998 with a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. He also earned a Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy and Ph.D., all in history, from Yale University. His dissertation, The Anti-Madalyn Majority: Secular Left, Religious Right, and the Rise of Reagan's America, won the Theron Rockwell Field and George Washington Egleston Prizes. He taught at the University of Texas and served as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, he was named president of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. 

In 2014, he was elected to the U.S Senate. Most of Sen. Sasse’s career has been spent guiding companies and institutions through times of crisis. He has worked with the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Company, as well as private equity firms and not-for-profit organizations, to tackle failing strategies across a broad array of sectors and nations.

Sasse impressed upon students the importance of building real communities, not simply digital ones. He suggested to the graduates that if they want to be happy, four things are needed: friends, family, faith, and meaningful work. He challenged students to seek the things that make life worth living, instead of chasing after the emptiness of wealth and prestige. 

After Sasse’s address, several awards and honors were presented.

The Dale R. Larsen Teacher Award is given annually to a full-time tenured faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to York College. This year, the award was presented to Bob DeHart, associate professor of education and chair of the department of physical education. He has taught at York College since 1998.

The Dean’s Award is presented annually to one graduating senior. The recipient is selected by the faculty, based on scholarship, leadership, and maturity factors. The 2018 award went to Grady Johnson, a Psychology major from Great Falls, Montana.  Johnson has been very active at York College including music, theatre, social service club, campus ministry, and residence life staff. He's held many leadership positions and served across campus in various capacities. After graduation, Johnson will attend Abilene Christian University to pursue a master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. ​

Also recognized was Dr. Ray Miller, who is retiring at the end of this semester. Miller has taught at York College since 1982 and has served in many leadership and behind the scenes roles in his 36 years. The rank of Faculty Emeritus was conferred upon him by Provost Shane Mountjoy.

The ceremony continued as graduates lined up to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas from President Eckman with a smile, a handshake, and frequently, a hug. Master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degrees were awarded during the ceremony.
The York College Concert Choir, conducted by Dr. Clark Roush, closed out the ceremony by performing “Lux Nova” and “Witness” before leading the audience in the singing of the York College Alma Mater.

2018 Graduates
Bachelor's Degree: Taylor Abraham, Keenan Albracht, Cale Anderson, Sabrina Austin*, Sammie Baker*, Isaac “Boone” Berry, Weston Bich, Justus Bjelland, Alex Boss, Hannah Boucher, Bailey Carr**, Torrey Casper*, Katey Cox, Kayliana Cox, Austin Coy**, Rachel Dollen, Austin Dredge, Brittany Eckerberg***, Tim Emory, Jacqueline Esquivel*, Brandon Facha, Max Fleig, Evans Francis, April Gaedke*, Sarah Genung**, Abby Gonzalez***, Tyler Goodwin, Fallon Grady, Shaphan Gross**, Lilianna Herrera*, Jolene Herzog, Peyton Horton**, AJ Jaramillo, Samantha Jerabek**, Grady Johnson***, Michael Johnson, Brittany Juarez, Caleb Magner**, Justine Manjarrez**, Corinne McDonald, Dakota Menke, Ainsley Mountjoy***, Anissia Munoz, Jack Murphy, Camery Nielsen, Stephen Odenore, Hugo Oliveira*, Kevin Olmstead**, Bonnie Packer, Hannah Parker*, Jesse Poneoma, Kodiak Ratzlaff, Douglas Rhodes, Tyler Roberts, Dylan Roller, Jaraad Salas, Luis Sanchez, Telly Sanders, Grant Seufferlein, Sarah Shafer***, Kelsey Sharkey, Lauren Sinnott, Eric Smith, Melissa Strong***, Aubrey Tate***, Alyssa Thompson**, Robert Thompson***, Bryce Tyler, Sierra Valerio, Marcus Vasquez, Kacee Walsh**, Andrea Way***, Hannah Wilke**, Tyler Wilt, Benjamin Wubbenhorst, Job Yapp.
*Cum Laude - GPA of 3.40 or higher
**Magna Cum Laude - GPA of 3.60 or higher
***Summa Cum Laude - GPA of 3.85 or higher

Master’s Degree: M.A. Organizational and Global Leadership (MOGL), M.A. Curriculum and Instruction (MCI) 
Shaylee Carlock (MOGL), Delton Deal (MCI), Sara Hill (MOGL & MCI), Kelly Hill (MCI), Kenneth Lantz (MOGL & MCI), Roni Miller (MOGL), Corinna Latorre (MCI), Kory Slaughter (MCI), 

Associate’s Degree: Abigail Baker, Marika Bich, Jacob Gibson, Michaela Hartman, Nick Meck, Kathryn Mosely, Laura Stitt