September 16, 2014
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Stepping out at graduation
John Howell

I’ve covered many graduations. And in many ways, they are alike whether at a pre-school, a high school or a college. There’s a procession. There’s the family taking pictures. There’s the caps and gowns – yes, even for some pre-schools.

I’ve always enjoyed covering the Community College of Rhode Island commencement. Graduates represent such a cross-section of Rhode Islanders. There are the parents – even grandparents – who are earning their degrees and pursuing their dreams. There are young people, still finding their way, who attended CCRI as a first step down a path of higher learning. There are those who have been in the workforce, lost their job, and now are seeking the skills to pursue a new career. There are those who love learning and are there to open new horizons.

Photographing them is fun. The images are often predictable, the tears and the hugs, the laughs and the jubilation, the bouquets, the group photographs with classmates, the decorated caps, the waves to parents in distant bleachers, the cheers whenever the class is mentioned. All make for portraits of a graduation.

But how can one capture that image of diversity that makes up the rich resource of the community college?

Faces tell a story of emotions, whether pride, joy, achievement or even relief. But as I looked for those expressions and captured some, I found something that distinguished the individuality of all graduates. No two pair of shoes was the same. You might say each graduate chose to make his or her own statement. And that defines the CCRI graduate.


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