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PJC 98th Spring Graduation held May 12 at Noyes Stadium

Published or Revised May 15, 2023

Scenes from the 2023 Paris Junior College Spring Commencement are shown clockwise from top left: Distinguished Service Award winner Brendan Batchelder, Master Teacher Lee LaRue, Student Government Association President Jacob Thomas, graduates, and the PJC Choir.

Paris Junior College celebrated its 98th Spring graduation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, 2023 at Noyes Stadium.

At the opening of the ceremony, Dr. Pam Anglin, PJC president, recognized retiring faculty and staff Shannon Callaway, Jeff Norris, Rita Pringle, Mallie Hood, and Paul May, who together have had 109 years at PJC.

As of Friday, 537 students had applied to graduate this spring, of whom 41 percent are men and 59 percent are women, ranging in age from 17 to 72 years old. They represent 31 different Texas counties, seven states, and Mexico and South Africa. The graduates included 125 dual credit students from 15 high schools in PJC's five county service area.

"This has been an extraordinary group of students," said Anglin, "and it has been wonderful to get to know them and learn of their aspirations."

Physics faculty member Lee LaRue was presented the Master Teacher Teaching Excellence Award. which includes a $1,000 honorarium, plaque, and medallion.

According to the nominations by fellow faculty, LaRue spends hours working with students one on one to make sure they have a good grasp of the concepts from his class. He is remembered by many former students as "their best teacher" and delivers complicated subjects such as Calculus 3 and Differential Equations in a manner that builds confidence and understanding.

Next came presentation of the Distinguished Service Award (DSA), the highest student honor given at PJC, presented to a PJC graduate since 1935. It was first given to Louis B. Williams, who later became president of Paris Junior College. The Award recognizes academic achievement and service to PJC and the community and is given to an outstanding graduating student.

Chosen was Brendan Batchelder, a 2015 graduate of Denver Center for International Studies in Denver, Colorado, is Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society, and a member of the Student Government Association, Texas Student Advisory Council, the 2023 All-Texas Academic Team, 2023 All USA Academic Team, All Texas Century Scholar, American Medical Society Student Association Pre-med Transfer Scholarship recipient, 2023 Mr. PJC Nominee and been named twice to the President’s List. He represented PJC in Austin at Community College Day 2023. He plans to transfer to the biomedical sciences program at Texas A&M University, and apply to medical school after that to pursue a dual PhD and MD.

Other DSA nominees included Ryan Davis, Celia Hagler, Samantha Puente, and Jacob Thomas.