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'Oh, the places you'll go': ATCC experience elicits Seuss-inspired commencement speech

Tiffany Mogard, an accounting student from Clara City, is congratulated by instructor Mark Meuwissen. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)1 / 3
During Wednesday’s ceremony at the Runestone Community Center, 640 students graduated from the college. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)2 / 3
Allyson Coleman, a Hoffman native, delivers the commencement address at the 57th annual Alexandria Technical and Community College commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 9. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press) 3 / 3

After receiving her associate degree in 2016, Allyson Coleman used the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go," as a book for friends and family to sign and say congratulations.

Two years later, the Hoffman native held up that same book in front of 4,000 people, delivering her Seuss-inspired commencement speech as she graduated again — this time from the Communication Art and Design program.

Including Coleman, 640 students graduated at the 57th annual Alexandria Technical and Community College commencement ceremony, held Wednesday, May 9, at the Runestone Community Center.

For Coleman, delivering the commencement address was something she never anticipated, as she never planned to stay at ATCC after earning her associate degree. But at the urging of instructor Paul Johnson, who taught a photography course she took while getting her associate degree, she decided to take on two more years in the Communication Art and Design program.

"ATCC really helped me find my way and find who I am," she said. "I never thought I would be doing graphic design, but that's where I am and I'm doing really well and love every minute of it."

Coleman hadn't taken an art class since eighth grade, and says that joining the program was intimidating for that reason. But as time passed, she found it was a perfect fit and learned how dedicated the instructors were to the students' education.

"They just care so much about your education and you doing well," she said. "If you put your heart into what you're doing, you'll get rewarded for that."

While Coleman prefers graphic design, she has also learned to love traditional art forms.

"I'm better at design. That's more my forte," she said. "But there is something so beautiful about being able to actually create something with your hands. You can't undo it. Everything has to be so precise and so meaningful."

As a college student, Coleman interned at Tastefully Simple and Runestone Electric Association. She will be working at REA again this summer before furthering her education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where she plans to major in graphic design and interactive media and minor in photography and journalism.

In reflecting over the past four years at the college, Coleman says the one project that stands out is a photo she took while earning her associate degree. The photo was of a mural in Fergus Falls with a lone chair at the bottom, and it is the reason Johnson approached her about joining the program.

"That's my favorite project even though it's not probably one of my best pieces," Coleman said. "It was still the biggest stepping stone in my whole journey."

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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