SMC’s 56th Commencement graduates 317

Published 2:20 pm Monday, May 1, 2023

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DOWAGIAC — Two women spoke on behalf of Southwestern Michigan College’s Class of 2023 April 29 at 56th Commencement ceremonies for 317 students in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.

Kara Murphy of Niles addressed the School of Arts and Sciences Saturday morning, while Tatyanna Blaylock of Stevensville spoke to the Schools of Business, Advanced Technology and Nursing and Health Services Saturday afternoon.

“If we were to write a book on our time at SMC,” Murphy said, “we would find chapters involving drama, mystery, revelation and thrilling moments. As with any book, it is not complete without a cast of characters and some interesting plot twists. The book would begin where I, like many of you, was wrapping up high school and looking into options to map out my future. SMC was a perfect choice as it helped me transition from the general studies of public education to a focused direction.”

Murphy mentioned mentors help guide heroes on their journeys, offering wisdom, counsel and advice against pursuing wrong paths. Hers were Professor Dr. Barbara Karwacinski and Associate Professor Christy Tidd, who “offered me advice in and outside the classroom as I sorted out my journey. I could dedicate chapters to advice I received from my professors. I’d expand on ‘find your why.’ We each have different reasons for being here, but it is our ‘why’ that has gotten us to this point. Why we worked so hard to attain our accomplishments, why did you pursue a degree beyond high school and why are you graduating? Why can be a tool in adding structure to chart your path after SMC. Why is the most interesting plot twist to your own book. Like Taylor Swift said, ‘The scary news is that you’re on your own now, but the cool news is that you’re on your own now.’ It’s entirely up to you how you want your story to unfold. If that responsibility ever overwhelms you, do not be afraid to ask for help because the people who surround you are there to support you and to advance the plot. As you start a new story, a new set of conflicts, antagonists, achievements and experiences will shape your character. You have the power to make your own story a bestseller.”

Murphy, graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in psychology, served as Psychology Club president and started work in August 2021 as a behavioral health technician at LOGAN Autism Learning Center, Benton Harbor.

She plans to continue her studies at Western Michigan University, majoring in psychology, with a sociology minor.

Murphy seeks a career as a behavioral analyst, helping those with special needs achieve their highest desired quality of life.

At SMC, she belonged to Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society, AKO Bible Club and Criminal Justice Club.

Blaylock, a Health Information Technology (HIT) graduate, attended Lakeshore High School. She was inducted into PTK and helped create a HIT video for SMC Day. Blaylock hopes to work her way into management with her current employer, Michiana Hematology Oncology, Mishawaka. She is engaged to be married in November.