BELTON— More than 350 students donned caps and gowns and gathered at the Bell County Expo Center on Friday for Central Texas College’s spring graduation ceremony.

The graduates included students receiving two-year degrees and certificates.

“It all comes down to this day,” Chancellor Thomas Klincar told the graduates. “We are all very proud of you.”

The graduates were both traditional community college students and nontraditional students, such as Maryah Becker, 18.

A senior at Ellison High School, Becker was able to earn a two-year degree in biology, even before she graduates from Ellison later this year, by predicating in CTC’s dual credit program.

“It’s a big relief,” said Becker, who plans to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to study nursing. “It takes a lot of hard work, but in the end it’s all worth it.”

Jennifer Clements was another nontraditional student at Friday’s graduation.

She earned an associate’s degree in applied management by taking CTC’s online courses while living in Germany.

“It was really convenient for me, and the college made it very easy to take classes online,” said Clements. “A lot of (online classes) are about time management.”

During the ceremony, graduates heard from guest speakers Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley and state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen.

Aycock, a former member of the CTC board of trustees, directed part of his speech to first-generation college graduates.

“This is a great day for these students,” Aycock said. “What you’re doing will not only change your lives, but the lives of your families for generations to come.”

Milley, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, noted the large number of military and military-connected students at CTC and congratulated them on their accomplishments.

“(Education) is the key that unlocks so many doors here in the United States,” Milley said.

The college also held a separate ceremony at its Killeen campus Friday for graduates from the emergency medical technician programs, as well as a pinning ceremony for nursing students.

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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