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May 26—Most of the time it sounded like Greg Dausch was reading resumes—instead of graduation names.
That's because he was, in effect.
Dausch is director of the Monongalia County Technical Education Center, which sent its collective Class of 2022 forth Wednesday.
Well, check that—they're already forth.
They've either been hired, and are working, or they've been hired and they're ready to start their employment. Each grad also earned a bevy of professional certifications they're taking with them.
An MTEC graduate can make a cherry pie or operate a plasma cutter, while running a restaurant or doing all the coding for the latest game to download on a smartphone.
They tear into automobile engines and tear down dilapidated structures—to build new ones on the same foundation.
And they bring their training into hospitals and other medical facilities as nurses and surgical technicians.
That's why it took a while to read those 162 names in a trio of ceremonies Wednesday. MTEC's parking lot was transformed for the day.
When it came to reading those names, Dausch did so with the flair of a game show host.
He drew out each one—nicknames included—with undisguised glee.
He didn't drone through their accomplishments and certifications: He proclaimed them.
"Hey, this is fun, " he said. "They worked hard. They earned this. This is a celebration. They've all got jobs. And I'm so very proud of them."
Other instructors found their voices faltering, as they made their closing remarks.
"We get emotional, " said Angie Copeland, a counselor and administrator who oversees MTEC's high school equivalency graduates every term.
"We get attached. We get to know them and their families. That's the advantage of smaller classes."
Academics and emotion have long been in coexistence at the tech center.
Because many of MTEC's students have journeyed on life's pathway before their enrollments, their spouses and children are also de facto enrollees at the school on Mississippi Street.
"Way to go, Dad !" rang one voice as a grinning graduate crossed the stage for his diploma.
Jessica Ayersman didn't have enough arms for her diploma. The Morgantown woman was using the two she has to hug and cradle her five children, who range in ages from 8 to 1.
She had just earned her high school equivalency diploma and will now begin nursing training at MTEC in the fall.
If you want to go back to school, she said, just do it.
Even if you have five kids, she laughed.
"Don't talk yourself out of it, " she said, smiling, as the brood closed in.
"I'd take my girls to dance, and I'd study then, " she said. "You're not 'too busy.' Trust me."