Story last updated at 12:44 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2002

KBC grads receive college diplomas
by Carey James
Staff Writer

More than 80 students were to receive diplomas last night as the Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College honored this year's graduates.

Many of the students have spent years working on their degrees while juggling work and family demands, said Carol Swartz, campus director.

"It's extremely satisfying and heart-warming to see these students develop and goal and work on in through thick and thin," said Swartz.

This year's class of graduates includes 39 people receiving a general education diploma, 27 certified nursing degrees, nine associate's degrees, five bachelor's degrees and one master's degree.

Swartz said the class of 2002 will receive a wider variety of degrees than past classes, ranging from associate's degrees in fire service administration to small business administration.

Two students, Michael Dirks and Jennifer Reinhart, will receive bachelor's degrees in psychology, and Stephanie Zuniga, Sally Peterson and Marie Walls Alexson will receive bachelor's degrees in education. Rebecca Paul has completed her master's degree in early childhood special education.

Swartz said the graduating class includes two students who have devoted tremendous amounts of time to the campus community. Meriam Deutschle Olson, the campus' student association vice president, who will receive her associate of arts degree, is this year's valedictorian. Also leaving is the student association president, Reinhart, who participated in local and statewide education organizations and events. The energy and volunteerism of both students will be missed at the campus, Swartz said.

"Those two have done so much for the campus community," she said.

Swartz said the graduation of the diverse group of students is testimony to not only the student's accomplishments, but the community as a whole for being supportive of academic achievement.

"These students have overcome a lot of challenges. Commencement is a time to reflect back on the knowledge, the values and the insights that their education has brought them." she said. "We feel that the commencement is the beginning of lifelong learning."