Mayor Benjamin and Sheriff Lott give commencement addresses at Columbia College

Sheriff Lott posing with graduate.  Allen Wallace photos.

Columbia College celebrated its December 2018 commencement at morning and afternoon ceremonies Saturday, with Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott addressing the new graduates.

Benjamin spoke at the morning commencement, speaking to a group of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in numerous subjects and emphasizing that for each of them, graduation should be not an end but a beginning.

“I want you to dream big, and decide that you can make those big dreams a reality,” he said.

“Determine in your own way how best to use your individual power to help make this world a better place. You have that power. I know you do.”

The afternoon ceremony honored those earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice, disaster and emergency management, and nursing, along with those who achieved individualized certificates in medical assisting.

Lott, the commencement speaker for the group, recognized that all of them had chosen fields related to his own: fields of service, of devotion to helping others.

Lott shared his own experience of being arrested for throwing eggs at police cars when he was 16, and how the police officers with whom he worked while serving his punishment changed his life.

“From that moment that I made a bad decision, that moment of failure, they put me on the right track,” he said. “I believe in helping other people just like they helped me.”

The theme of using the lessons learned at Columbia College to do good in the community and beyond was echoed by Dr. Carol Moore, the college president.

“We expect you to lead,” she told the graduates. “Some days that leadership will be quiet… Other days you’re going to step forward and shout out loud… You’ll have to make the judgments on when to be a quiet leader and when to be up front.”

Information about Columbia College is available at

Categories: Columbia, Education, Richland County