South Suburban College celebrates tenacious graduates during 95th commencement ceremony

South Suburban College celebrates tenacious graduates during 95th commencement ceremony

On Sunday, May 21 South Suburban College (SSC) celebrated over 120 graduates during its 95th commencement ceremony. Friends, family, and faculty cheered as the students accepted their diplomas and took the first step into their next journey in life.

South Suburban College Spring Commencement 2023

South Suburban College Spring Commencement 2023 341 Photos
South Suburban College Spring Commencement 2023South Suburban College Spring Commencement 2023South Suburban College Spring Commencement 2023South Suburban College Spring Commencement 2023

SSC’s 95th commencement ceremony was packed with some very distinguished graduates. Over 40 graduates donned gold cords to show they were graduating with honors. Five graduates were recognized for their service in the Armed Forces. All in all, associate degrees and certificates were awarded from 15 different disciplines. Everyone was truly impressed by all the graduates had accomplished and couldn’t praise them enough.

“Your talent, hard work, and achievement have earned you this special day of recognition,” said SSC President Dr. Lynette D. Stokes. “You are unapologetically bold, strong, and unwavering in your quest and thirst for education. You have persevered to make it to this moment. Your continued effort to achieve this moment despite any opposition you may have faced has bought you your success today. For that, I salute you and say congratulations.”

Not only were the graduates recognized during the ceremony for all their incredible hard work, but some of the faculty were as well. English Instructor David “Dave” Schaberg earned the recognition of Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year for his 28 years of dedicated service to SSC. Schaberg humbly accepted the award and personally gave his words of congratulations to the graduates.

“Every single one of you has faced and overcome your own challenges. The fact that you’ve gotten through those challenges and made it here today tells us one thing about you: that you are awesome. Congratulations and good luck on whatever path you choose from here,” said Schaberg.

For the commencement speech, SSC decided to take a different approach and invite a speaker who hadn’t yet completed college. McKinley Nelson, the creator of Project sWishChicago (PSC), came to give an inspiring speech.

As a Chicago native, Nelson lost many of his close friends to gun violence at a young age and was unable to finish his bachelor's degree due to his battle with depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To cope, Nelson started PSC to provide free basketball leagues in underserved communities and give people an outlet to feel safe and vulnerable.
Since starting PSC, Nelson has touched many lives, but he’s still working hard to earn his degree.

Nelson shared his story and commended the graduates for their tenacity and ability to keep fighting for what they wanted for themselves.

“This graduating class is different from any other graduating class that preceded you because you came into school during a global pandemic. That says so much about you all. I aspire to be like you all and be in your seat,” said Nelson.

To thank Nelson for all he’s done for the community and for coming and speaking for the graduates, SSC awarded him with an honorary associate in science degree. The smile on Nelson’s face and the cacophony of cheers spoke to how touching the moment was for everyone.

The ceremony was ultimately very uplifting, uniting, and unforgettable. The SSC faculty wished the graduates good luck in their future endeavors and encouraged them to remember that no matter where they end up, they will always be a part of the SSC family.

“You are all about to enter the world as a South Suburban College alumni. Some of you will enter the workforce and lead various careers while others will embark on a journey to continue their education. But, no matter what path you may choose, you will share the common identity of South Suburban College. You are a bulldog for life,” said SSC Chairman Terry R. Wells.

To learn more about South Suburban College, visit