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Dr. John Rainone, President of Mountain Gateway Community College addresses the 2024 graduating class on Friday, May 10, 2024.

Mountain Gateway Community College Hosts Commencement Exercises

Clifton Forge, VA (May 11, 2024) - Mountain Gateway Community College held a memorable Commencement ceremony to celebrate the Class of 2024 on Friday evening.

The College, founded in 1962 as the Covington-Clifton Forge Branch of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has a rich history. It later changed its name to Dabney S. Lancaster Community College when it joined the newly formed Virginia Community College System, and in July of 2022, the College was renamed Mountain Gateway Community College.

Mahaley Reyns-Broughman, a 2016 college graduate, performed the National Anthem.

MGCC President Dr. John Rainone delivered a welcome address to the Class of 2024, along with their many family and friends, acknowledging and celebrating their remarkable accomplishments.

“As we gather here today to celebrate the achievements of our graduates, I am filled with immense pride and joy,” Dr. Rainone said. “Today marks a significant milestone in your journey. You have worked tirelessly, overcome obstacles, and demonstrated unwavering dedication to reach this moment. Your hard work and perseverance have paid off, and you stand here today as graduates of our esteemed institution.”

Katie Shofstahl later took the stage as the Student Speaker. During her time at MGCC, Katie has been a member of MGCC’s Timber Sports team and has been an active member of Phi Theta Kappa since 2021, serving as MGCC’s chapter president as well as the Vice President and President for the Virginia/West Virginia region. She also won this year’s National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Student Essay Contest.

Katie’s experiences at MGCC have helped her develop strong leadership skills that she will carry with her as she pursues her future goals. Katie plans to transfer to Old Dominion University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Career & Technical Education.

Following Katie’s speech, Dr. Ben Worth presented the 2024 Gary Lee Miller Outstanding Graduate Award to LaShonda Ochieng. The Gary Lee Miller Outstanding Graduate Award honors First Lieutenant Gary Lee Miller, a Covington, Virginia native who was killed in action in Vietnam.

LaShonda earned an associate’s degree in business management with a specialization in administrative support and distinguished herself through her exceptional academic achievements, leadership skills, and commitment to community service during her time as a student at MGCC. She has consistently maintained the highest education standards and was recently recognized for her outstanding academic performance by being named on the prestigious President's List for the Fall 2023 semester. LaShonda has been actively involved in extracurricular activities during her time at MGCC and has been an active community member. Her accomplishments are a testament to her dedication, hard work, and commitment to excellence.

Chris Fisher, a lifelong resident of the Alleghany Highlands, was then honored with the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award and served as Featured Speaker at this year’s Commencement ceremony.

Chris is a Captain at the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office and oversees several programs. He has also volunteered in the community for many years and has received numerous awards and achievements throughout his career. He delivered a heartwarming speech to inspire the graduates and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

“No matter what tomorrow holds for you, please remember the following … Keep your faith, enjoy life, with family and friends, and be sure to take a break every now and then. In some way that’s best for you, give back to the community … and remember with God, all things are possible,” Chris said.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Rainone shared more information about the hard work of the Class of 2024. Many high school students graduated this year - 76 to be exact - earning 107 credentials, certificates, and degrees. More than 380 workforce credentials were awarded. 62% of the Class received an associate degree, 35% of the class started with MGCC through high school dual enrollment, 75% of the class paid no tuition thanks to scholarships or the G3 program, 76% of the class are already employed or have plans to transfer to a four-year university immediately, and more than 90% of students who applied to a four-year institution had already been accepted.

“As you step into the world beyond these walls, do so with confidence, courage, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. The future is yours to shape, and I have no doubt that you will make us proud,” Dr. Rainone said.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters at MGCC is underway. Call (540) 863-2820 for more information.

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