Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration graduate Bridgette Veit ’23 delivers the student address during Fall 2023 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Southwell Complex. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

Columbia College’s navy and silver hold extra meaning to Class of Fall 2023 graduate Bridgette Veit.

Veit stood before her peers on Saturday, Dec. 16, during Commencement in the Southwell Complex and shared about symbolic meanings of the school colors. The navy symbolizes community, while the silver represents the celebration of achievements big and small, she said.

“This institution is not merely a place to get an education, but a catalyst for dreams and a nurturer of aspirations,” said Veit, who graduated summa cum laude from the Day Program with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration. “Each brick in the walls of this campus echoes the stories of resilience, hard work and triumph that characterize the journey of every graduate.”

A first-generation college student from Westphalia, Missouri, Veit is a member of the Honors Program and has been a mainstay on the Dean’s List. She serves as a tutor through TRiO Student Support Services. She is the president of the college’s Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapter.

“This institution is not merely a place to get an education, but a catalyst for dreams and a nurturer of aspirations. Each brick in the walls of this campus echoes the stories of resilience, hard work and triumph that characterize the journey of every graduate.”

Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration graduate Bridgette Veit ’23

She plans to pursue her Master of Science in Accountancy at CC while working as a graduate assistant for Cougar Athletics.

On Saturday, Veit graduated as part of a class of 183 students in a 90-minute ceremony that featured the conferral of degrees from the Robert W. Plaster School of Business, School of Arts & Sciences and School of Public Service. The ceremony also included special performances by the Jane Froman Singers.

Members of the Jane Froman Singers perform during Fall 2023 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Southwell Complex. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

The Fall 2023 graduates collectively represent seven different countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Republic of South Africa, U.K. and the United States.

“Columbia College has played a pivotal role in shaping our past, and now, as we step into the future, it will remain our home,” Veit said. “The people we’ve met, the lessons we’ve learned, and the silver and navy we’ve earned will forever be part of our identity.”

Mother, son achieve milestone together

Dawn Rhodes and Austin Hollis experienced a day neither will soon forget.

The mother and son from the Jefferson City, Missouri, area both walked at graduation, with Rhodes earning her Associate in Science in Business Administration and Hollis securing his Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems.

“It means more than you can imagine graduating with my one and only son who is also my firstborn child,” Rhodes said.

Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems graduate Austin Hollis ’23, left, and his mother, Associate in Science in Business Administration graduate Dawn Rhodes ’23, pose for a photo before Fall 2023 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Southwell Complex. Photo by Columbia College Strategic Communications Specialist Kevin Graeler

Rhodes completed her studies through the Online Program, while Hollis started his studies at the Jefferson City location before transitioning to all online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hollis began working full time while continuing his education thanks to CC’s night and online classes.

“Without those options, I probably wouldn’t be getting my bachelor’s degree,” Hollis said. “I plan to continue working where I am and hope to be able to move up positions with my degree and hands-on experience.”

Rhodes said her experience with CC has been “nothing short of amazing.”

“It means more than you can imagine graduating with my one and only son who is also my firstborn child.”

Associate in Science in Business Administration graduate Dawn Rhodes ’23

Her time at the college dates back to 2015, when her youngest child of three children was 2 years old.

“What motivated me to start my degree was my children,” Rhodes said. “I wanted them to know that getting a good education was worth it and you can achieve it no matter what age. This degree will help me reach a goal in my career that without it I wouldn’t be able to.”

Hollis said the opportunity to graduate alongside his mom means a lot to him.

“She started her journey a long time ago and I’m glad that we are both finishing at the same time,” Hollis said. “She is a wonderful role model, and graduating with her just shows how good of a role model she is and has always been.”

‘Today is your day to shine’

Dr. Sandra Hamar, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, opened her first Commencement as provost by speaking directly to the graduating class.

“Your hard work and determination have paid off,” Hamar said. “Today is your day to shine in front of family members, friends and supporters. Your strength, tenacity and focus are remarkable, and you should be very proud of this accomplishment.”

Dr. Sandra Hamar, Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, speaks during Fall 2023 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Southwell Complex. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

In his remarks, President Dr. David Russell said the graduates are not the same people as when they originally enrolled at Columbia College, adding they have “grown personally, excelled academically and soon will blossom professionally.”

The graduates are walking into a world of infinite possibilities, Russell said.

“As I look out at this graduating class, I see inspiring students who have learned how to finish what they start, who have stayed the course, who will achieve a dream today that no one can ever take away,” Russell said. “Going forward, whatever the circumstances, I encourage you to seize the moment when it comes. And it will come!”

Jared Reichel ’16, vice chair of the Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) Advisory Council, formally welcomed the Class of Fall 2023 into the CCAA.

“Never forget that you are CC along with the over 97,000 alumni with whom you share a common affinity,” Reichel said.