By Carthel Starks, director, Columbia College-NAS Jacksonville

Much like the entertainment industry’s Oscar, Emmy or Grammy Awards, in academia, we also have “red carpet” season; it’s called commencement season and it’s just beginning.

The award shows are focused on the achievements of the talented artists in their respective communities. The nominees can find the selection process very subjective. Even with all their hard work and exceptional achievement, they may not come out holding a trophy.

NAS Jacksonville Director Carthel Starks

There is a juxtaposition between the entertainment industry and academia, because students who complete their degrees all receive the winning trophy—their diploma. They chose their degree path, they worked hard and stayed the course to achieve their ultimate goal—their degree. All who walk the commencement stage are winners.

In academia, the Pomp-and-Circumstances walk to the commencement stage is the equivalent to the entertainment industry’s red-carpet walk. The emphasis is not placed on fashion; graduates wear the same regalia. At commencement, we celebrate the achievements of the students. Degree completion represents having the focus and determination to work hard to meet the challenges and demands of the coursework. It represents gaining the knowledge of the particular specialty in a field of study that is key to the graduate’s future. Students are multi-taskers and jugglers. When a degree is completed, it is a momentous occasion. Only one-third of the country’s population have earned a bachelor’s degree and that number is even less for a master’s degree. The red-carpet walk should be celebrated with family and friends, plus whomever can serve as your “paparazzi” to take lots of photos! All graduates and students working on degree completion should be proud of their achievements.

As a director, I am honored to work with the dedicated students attending Columbia College- NAS Jacksonville and I see the efforts they put forth to earn their degrees. They are truly shining stars! Over the past 9 years, I have found that each student is unique in his or her own way. However, when they complete their degrees, each student bonds together with one common theme – a Columbia College graduate.

As the commencement date of August 20 nears, I would like to personally congratulate each one of our graduates. I join you in celebrating your hard work and accomplishments. Best wishes! You did it!