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Posted on: April 13, 2015   |   Category: News

APRIL 13, 2015   WATERTOWN, SD Lake Area Technical College is honored and privileged to join the White House in announcing that President Barack Obama will be Lake Area Technical College’s commencement speaker to the graduating class of 2015.

The White House announced today its intentions for President Obama to speak at the ceremony.   The release noted that Lake Area Technical College is one of the top community colleges in the nation, and is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy.   With graduation rates among the highest in the nation, Lake Area Technical College focuses on providing its graduates smooth pathways to high skilled careers with private-sector businesses.

Lake Area Technical College President Mike Cartney comments,  “Imagine how meaningful obtaining your college degree becomes when the President of the United States is your commencement speaker?  I cannot even begin to explain the feeling I had when the White House called with this news! This is a once in a lifetime phone call that left me overwhelmed and speechless, yet filled with so much pride for Lake Area Technical College, this community and our business partners.  My heart and thoughts go to the great district leadership, staff and students of Lake Area Technical College.  Their hard work, dedication and innovation epitomize that it is not about being the best, but doing your best – and the rest will follow. This is what makes Lake Area Technical College such a magical place.”

Lake Area Technical College is the only college in the nation to be named a Finalist with Distinction in each of Aspen College’s three Community College Excellence competitions.  Lake Area Technical College participated in the Administration’s Champions of Change in 2011, and most recently was invited to the White House for the College Opportunity Day.  Lake Area Technical College joined other Aspen Finalists in making commitments to help the nation meet President Obama’s goal of raising the number of Americans with post-secondary degrees.  With graduations among the highest in the country, the colleges commitment was two-fold.  First, to redefine success as placement. Secondly, LATI is focusing on getting industry more engaged in student success.  President Cartney explains, “Lake Area Technical College is working with other Aspen Excellence Prize finalists to meet a commitment to the White House to raise the number of our graduates by 2020. Lake Area Technical College is redefining success from graduation to placement.  This subtle adjustment changes the whole conversation and focus with potential and current students.  Rather than discussing degrees, which is an abstract concept to many new students, we are discussing what they want to be, what they want their future to be, and then laying out an educational path for them to get there.   Things become immediately more relevant.  This subtle change matches who Lake Area Technical College is, how we do business – it has helped us find our identity.”

The forty-eighth annual graduation ceremony will begin at 4:00 pm at the Watertown Civic Arena.  The official announcement notes that further details about the President’s travel to South Dakota will be provided in the coming days.