Life is a series of preludes, world renowned pianist Grant Johannsen told graduates of Salt Lake Community College Saturday during commencement exercises on the school's Redwood Campus.
"This is one of the most important," said Johannsen referring to the conferral of diplomas and certificates to some 2,500 students during graduation rites in the Lifetime Activity Center.To illustrate his point, Johannsen performed four preludes by Chopin, followed by selections by French composers Poulenc and Debussy.
Johannsen was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the college, as were billionaire industrialist Jon M. Huntsman and Jay L. Nelson, former president of Utah Technical College at Salt Lake, now SLCC.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was scheduled to receive honorary doctorate but was unable to attend the graduation ceremonies. He will be presented the honorary degree at a later time, said SLCC president Frank W. Budd.
Student speaker Patricia Pobol, who graduated with an associate of science degree with an emphasis on logistics management, commented on the rich diversity of the Class of 1998, noting differences in age, ethnicity and gender.
A mother of three, Pobol waited 26 years to return to school. When she did, she earned academic honors.
"Each of us has changed ourselves. Now it is time to change the world," she said.
Budd noted that 1998 was the school's 50th anniversary.
Budd turned over most his time at the podium to graduate Margaret Clayton, who six years ago served as an usher at a SLCC graduation ceremony.
As she walked out the door that day, she heard the strands of `Pomp and Circumstance' playing in the background.
"The tears rolled down my cheeks. I said to myself I, too, would like to be a proud member of that graduating class," said Clayton, a nontraditional student now of retirement age.
"Today is the culmination of that thought."
Three years ago, Clayton asked Budd if she could address her class-mates when she finished her degree. On Saturday, he kept his word, she said.
"President Budd truly is a man of honesty, integrity and commitment," she said.