Nearly 250 students graduated, including about 120 with bachelor’s degrees, when Lincoln College conducted its 151st commencement ceremony Saturday, May 5.
Again this year, the college hosted a special public “Excellence in Leadership” panel the day before graduation, featuring the college’s two honorary degree recipients – Alex D. “Sandy” MacKinnon, a 1960 graduate of Lincoln College and Richie Gajate Garcia, one of the world’s most in-demand percussionists and educators.
The “Excellence in Leadership” panel was Friday, May 4, on the main stage of the Johnston Center for the Performing Arts.
The number of bachelor’s degree recipients was up sharply from last year, when 85 students received four-year degrees. The high number of bachelor’s degree recipients reflects both growth in the College’s traditional four-year degree programs on the Lincoln Campus and its non-traditional Accelerated Bridge to Education (ABE) programs in Normal, Peoria and Oglesby.
The commencement ceremony took place in the Lincoln Center on the Lincoln campus.
In addition to the two honorary degree recipients, the student speaker this year was Ashlyn Carroll, of Lincoln. Carroll received her bachelor’s degree of Business Administration in Business Management. She previously received her associate degree from the College in 2016.
She has been on the Special Honors List and the President’s Honors List, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was recognized by Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Ashlyn was also a student-athlete for two years on the softball team, earning a NJCAA Superior Academic Achievement Award, First Team NJCAA All-Academic and Mid-West Athletic Conference Academic All-Conference Softball honors.
Ashlyn works as a teacher aide in Lincoln, serves as the local high school’s softball team assistant and has served as a student Ambassador for Lincoln College.
The featured speaker at the commencement and one of the members of the “Excellence in Leadership” panel, Alex D. “Sandy” MacKinnon, graduated from Lincoln College in 1960. He is a successful businessman and the former owner and CEO of MacKinnon Equipment & Services.
Using a customer-focused approach and following the highest ethical standards, MacKinnon transformed a failing Yale Equipment dealership into a highly successful firm with five locations in Florida and Georgia.
Throughout his career MacKinnon has received many awards, but he says he takes particular pride in two that exemplify strong character traits –the H.L. Culbreath, Jr., profile in leadership award and the Tampa Bay Ethics Award, presented by the University of Tampa Center for Ethics.
Richie Gajate Garcia is well known in the world of professional musicians. He has recorded and/or performed with Phil Collins, Sting, Don Henley, Frankie Valli, Stevie Wonder and Ritchie Sambora, as well as worked on film scores including Disney’s Oscar winning animated film Coco. He has also performed on a number of Grammy award winning and Grammy nominated songs. He has toured with a variety of artists including Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, John Denver and Hiroshima.
Gajate Garcia invented the popular Gajate Bracket and collaborated on the Richie Gajate Garcia Signature Series Congas, Bongos and Djembe all produced by Latin Percussion.