Joseph Reece was walking to his graduation ceremony, green cap and gown in hand and his 7-year-old son, Tyson, trailing behind, watched by Reece’s girlfriend.
The 26-year-old Aberdeen man was ready to celebrate four years of hard work on his Bachelor of Sciences in biology and chemistry from The Evergreen State College.
The only thing that would have made it perfect is if the woman who inspired his degree choice had been there: his mother.
She died last year.
Reece’s mother had her first liver transplant in 1999, followed by a second in 2005.
“I was her care provider,” Reece said. “She was getting sick, and I wanted to understand it all.”
Reece’s focus within the sciences has veered since his education began, and he hopes to one day work for the state Department of Natural Resources or the Department of Fish and Wildlife. He is looking to get a master’s degree in environmental science.
Reece was among more than 1,300 graduates Friday afternoon receiving various degrees at Evergreen.
More than 1,500 degrees and certificates were awarded during South Puget Sound Community College’s graduation ceremony the same day.
About 77 percent of 2012 SPSCC graduates found employment within nine months of graduation. In 2010, the number was 73 percent, according to Aaron Managhan, communications consultant with the college.
Landing a job isn’t the only way for graduates to mark success.
Among the pool of pink leis, flower bouquets and camera flashes at the Evergreen ceremony was Regina Husbands, who held congratulatory balloons for her 41-year-old daughter, Sashi Husbands-Brown.
A first-generation graduate, Husbands heads the Evergreen Tacoma alumni chapter. She couldn’t be more proud to see her daughter complete her hard work.
“My daughter has four children and two to three jobs, and goes to school at night,” Husbands said. “I’m very excited for her … I am the first generation, so now we have something to build on with my children and grandchildren.”