SCC holds 29th annual commencement exercises; Ben Waggoner receives 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award

Published: 05/17/2017

Graduates gathered to celebrate their achievements at St. Charles Community College on May 13 for the college’s 29th annual commencement exercises.

In his keynote address, Greg Prestemon, EDC Business and Community Partners of St. Charles County president and CEO, told graduates, “Wherever your journey takes you after today, know that some of the most talented, successful people I know graduated from this school or other community colleges.”

He went on to provide the graduates with three qualities he sees in successful people – a willingness to learn new things, the persistence to finish things, and a belief that one controls his or her own destiny. Prestemon encouraged the graduates to strive to achieve each of these qualities.


Greg Prestemon, EDC Business and Community Partners of St. Charles County President and CEO, addresses the crowd at the college’s 29th commencement on May 13.

Also addressing a crowd of an estimated 1,600 graduates, faculty, relatives and friends was student representative Kayley Collins. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and plans to transfer to a four-year institution to earn an accounting degree. She hopes to one day start a non-profit organization.

In her address, Collins tasked her classmates to become lifelong learners. “While learning is easy to cultivate on a college campus, it shouldn’t stop here.” Collins said. “Instead, may we strive to be active members of our community, seeking out growth and development.”

She ended her speech by sharing her biggest hope for her fellow graduates – that their lives are “rich with breathtaking experiences, bold decisions and abounding love.”

Of the 264 graduates who received honors distinctions, 28 received Highest Honors, 82 received High Honors and 114 received Honors distinctions.

During the commencement ceremony, the Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Ben Waggoner, CFP, a certified financial planner. Ben was described as having an “entrepreneurial spirit.” During his second year at SCC, Ben discovered his passion for helping people with their financial planning and immediately found a way to start on this career path while in school. He worked full-time while attending classes and earned his Associate of Arts in 1999.


Ben Waggoner, CFP, a certified financial planner and 2017 distinguished alumni recipient, at the college’s 29th commencement on May 13.

His first job at Edward Jones gave him access to the professional development opportunities he needed to help get his own business started and growing.

In 2007, Waggoner became a certified financial planner™ professional. It took commitment and discipline to fulfill the requirements for the desired industry designation while balancing his responsibilities at work and with his growing family.

He moved his business to New Melle, Mo., in 2014, and remains excited about his future with Edward Jones. The friendliness of the small town drew him in, and he soon became a leader in the community, where he served as president of the New Melle Chamber of Commerce.

Waggoner and his wife Jennifer live in Wentzville and are raising four children, 12, 8, 5 and 3.

Presiding over the commencement ceremony was Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president. Jean Ehlmann, president of the SCC Board of Trustees, and John Bookstaver, Ph.D., vice president for academic and student affairs, assisted with the conferring of degrees and certificates. The SCC Concert Band, directed by James A. Martin, and the SCC Singers, Show Choir and Chamber Choir, directed by Becky Thorn, provided music. The Commencement Marshal was Beth Michael-Smith, assistant professor of chemistry and chair of the Chemistry Department. Ushers included cadets from the Eastern Missouri Police Academy, student organizations and college staff.


Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president addresses the crowd at her first commencement exercise as college president. 

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit

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Cofttleville, MO 63376

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