Like so many big events these days at Washtenaw Community College, the 2021 Winter Honors Convocation was virtual. But that didn’t take away from the significance of what 2,471 WCC students achieved academically during what arguably was the most challenging time of their lives.
In her opening remarks, WCC President Rose B. Bellanca acknowledged what students have been through and how she would much prefer events, such as Honors Convocations, be held in person.
“So, this year will be different,” she told the students during a livestream on YouTube. “But what won’t be different is the pride and respect I have for each and every one of you. What you have achieved academically through the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing short of remarkable.”
WCC Board of Trustees member Christina M.H. Fleming, a former WCC honors student and a University of Michigan graduate, spoke on behalf of the seven-member elected board.
She only half-jokingly suggested an asterisk be attached to the honors certificates students received, pointing out the significance of accomplishing academic excellence in the middle of a pandemic, the likes of which no one could have predicted.
“I salute you for your determination, diligence and drive,” she said.
Student speakers Umang Bhojani, a second year student majoring in General Studies, and Abdur-Raheem Al-Hallak, a third year student in Pre-Engineering, shared personal thoughts on what the last year has meant to them.
For Bhojani, it included a dark period in his life. “As the semester progressed,” he recalled, “I found it harder and harder to focus on school. Constantly hearing about the rising COVID-19 cases throughout the country made me extremely anxious about the state of society and made me worry about the well-being of my parents, both of whom were at high risk of contracting the disease,” because of their occupations.
But Bhojani, who is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, said he turned things around: “I reflected on my past, realizing how far I had come to reach this present moment. The way to reach such seemingly immense peaks is by taking it one step at a time. The line may sound cheesy but it does ring true, the first step is always the hardest.”
Al-Hallak, a home-schooled student before enrolling at WCC, credited the college for embracing him and helping move forward in his education. He also is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“From the very first class day in my first semester here, it was clear to me that WCC was interested in my success,” he said. “The intimidation of going to a college with real people dissipated as I began to settle in with my new classes and my new professors, all of whom seemed to take keen interest in all of their students.
“As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child and here, it seems, they’ve successfully translated that into an effective method of molding a successful student.
WCC hosts two Honors Convocations each year to recognize high-achieving students. The Winter Convocation honors:
- All full-time (12 credits or more) Fall 2020 students receiving High Honors (GPA 3.8 and above)
- All Honors (GPA 3.5 to 3.79) and High Honors (GPA 3.8 to 4.0) graduate candidates for December 2020
- All part-time (minimum of fifteen 15 credits over three specific semesters) students receiving High Honors (GPA 3.8 and above).
The Spring Convocation will be held on May 20, 2021 and will honor:
- All full time (12 credits or more) Winter 2021 students (GPA 3.8 and above)
- All Honors (GPA 3.5 to 3.79) and High Honors (GPA 3.8 to 4.0) graduate candidates for May 2021, June 2021, and August 2021