WNCC to confer degrees, certificates Saturday

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – Two years ago, Corbin Kloppenberg had his mind set on earning his Welding Technology Certificate at Western Nebraska Community College in minimal time so he could enter the workforce as soon as possible.

“I came here with the mindset of I’ll be here one year and be out,” said Kloppenberg, of Elizabeth, Colo. “Then I was going to work.”

But Kloppenberg soon found it difficult to leave WNCC. After getting to know the instructors, staff, and students of the College, Kloppenberg knew he found a second home on campus.

“I couldn’t stay away,” he said. “It was kind of like, why not? And I’m really glad I came back.”

So, after earning a Welding Technology Certificate in 2017, Kloppenberg returned as a Cougar to earn an Automotive Technology Certificate this year. Kloppenberg will be one of 300 students to earn a degree or certificate at the 86th Annual Commencement, which will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at
Cougar Palace.

Those graduating Saturday are represented by 36 communities in Nebraska, 20 states, and
20 countries.

In addition to commencement on Saturday, WNCC will also be hosting a GED graduation ceremony at 11 a.m. and a nurse pinning at 2 p.m. Both events will be held in the Plex at the John N. Harms Center.

Looking back, Kloppenberg will remember plenty from his time at WNCC - the class instruction, the life lessons learned working as a resident assistant, and the friends he met on campus.

Above all, though, he’ll remember the community of the College, he said.

“I’ve always done sports (through high school), so I was missing that aspect of a team and working together,” Kloppenberg said. “It was nice not doing anything, but I really wanted to be part of a team and part of a community.”

WNCC became his new team. His new family. And Corbin - he was the protective older brother, said Molly Bonuchi, WNCC residence life director.

“With some of his peers I see him as a brother type,” Bonuchi said. “He often worries about them more than they do themselves, because he is the protector. They come to him to help solve problems; he is always there for them.”

“I’ll always remember the area and the friends I created here,” Kloppenberg said.

Delivering the commencement address Saturday will be Dr. Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president of student affairs at Washington State University. Gonzales, whose speech is titled ‘Shaping the Transformative Cougar Experience,’ was selected by the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) Foundation to receive the Pillar of the Profession award - one of the highest honors in student affairs. She was also the inaugural director of the NASPA’s Escaleras Institute and served as chair for the NASPA National Excellence Awards committee for four years.

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