CCBC Honors Graduates, Welcomes Back Founding Faculty Leader, and Debuts Long-Lost Alma Mater

Monaca, PA – Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) held its annual Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 4 to recognize the Class of 2017 and conclude a year-long celebration of the College’s 50th anniversary. 435 students, who completed their studies in August 2016, December 2016, and May 2017, were awarded an associate degree, certificate, or diploma from the School of Aviation Sciences; School of Nursing and Allied Health; and School of Business, Arts, Sciences, and Technology.

The ceremony also celebrated the first students graduating with an associate degree in Process Technology, a program that is industry-created and approved in order to develop a skilled and diverse workforce for Shell Chemicals and the broader petrochemicals industry in Beaver County and the region.

The Commencement exercises were streamed live in high definition (HD) video, allowing families and friends nationwide to participate in the celebration.

“As CCBC’s president, I hope that the pride you feel this evening as you walk across the stage stays with you forever,” reflected Dr. Chris Reber in his opening remarks to the graduates. “This past year, we have celebrated CCBC’s 50th anniversary with our entire community. The Class of 2017 is now graduating at a special moment in our history, and this evening we look ahead to a bright future for both the graduates and the College.”

Leslie Powell, a member of the 2017 All-PA Academic Team and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, and graduate of CCBC’s Social Work program, provided opening remarks on behalf of the student body.

“Today, I am very proud to say that I am a college graduate,” stated Powell. “I am achieving what I had once thought to be out of reach, and am thankful to CCBC for the opportunity to shine and for giving me the tools and the place to succeed for the first time in my life.”

Professor Emeritus Thomas Heasley, who, prior to his retirement in 2015 was CCBC’s longest-tenured faculty member, returned to campus to deliver the keynote address at the historic ceremony. Having developed the Biology and Chemistry programs when the College first opened in Freedom, PA in 1966, Heasley taught in CCBC’s classrooms and labs for 48 years.

Inspired by the words of CCBC’s first president, Horace B. Monroe, Professor Heasley shared memories from CCBC’s formative years and reminded graduates to be “Beaver County proud” focusing on work ethic, loyalty and family.

“Since 1967 to the present, CCBC has remained committed to the tradition of providing faculty dedicated to student success and programming that serves the needs of the county,” said Professor Heasley in his keynote speech to the graduating class. “The key to personal success is now your college education and total effort in your chosen profession. Never be afraid to dream, pursue your passion, or make a mistake.”

Kelsey Hudascek, a member of the Phi Kappa International Honor Society and 2017 All-PA Academic Team, and graduate of CCBC’s Business Administration program, provided closing remarks on behalf of the student body.

“Sitting before me now, I no longer see my fellow students,” said Hudascek. “Instead, I see nurses, accountants, chefs, social workers, pilots, artists, biologists, and more. All Community College of Beaver County graduates ready to find success.”

The CCBC Alma Mater, which until very recently had been lost, re-debuted and was performed, under the direction of Ted Nevin, by the Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble for the first time since the dedication of the Dome on July 1, 1976. Original ensemble members Ron Romeo and Frank Vallecorsa also played the musical selection at the Dome 41 years ago.

To view Commencement photos or videos, go to or Flickr and search “Community College of Beaver County” or visit

PHOTO CAPTION: CCBC’s 2017 graduating class is surrounded by the support of faculty, staff, family, and friends as the College’s 50th anniversary Commencement ceremony gets underway Thursday evening at the Dome.

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