Deb Rauhauser, of Moorland, was one of 500 Iowa Central Community College students who walked across the stage Saturday morning to receive her diploma during the school's 46th annual commencement.
On March 31, 2011, she took a different walk - through the gates at the Webster City Electrolux plant where her job had disappeared forever.
"I didn't think I'd be here today," she said while waiting in line to get her diploma.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kelsey Olson, of Humboldt, finds out that her son, Riley Paulton, 2, might not be too happy with swapping caps Saturday morning following the 46th annual commencement at Iowa Central Community College. Olson graduated from the graphic technology program.
She said she has a job waiting at a Fort Dodge restaurant and her optimism about the future is back.
"Everything is going great," she said.
Her fellow culinary arts graduate, David Praim, of Webster City, is also a fellow Electrolux veteran.
Like Rauhauser, he couldn't see himself in a line of graduates wearing a blue cap and gown several years ago either.
"I never thought I'd be in this position," he said.
Praim had even more course work to do; he earned his GED first then enrolled in the culinary arts program.
He has a part-time job waiting in Fort Dodge and plans on continuing his studies. He plans to earn a degree in business and hospitality management.
After welcomes to the commencement by Iowa Central President Dan Kinney and Board of Trustees Vice President Larry Hecht, Student Senate President Amanda Becker spoke to her classmates.
"We had the opportunity to share classrooms with those from all over the world," she said, "I've met students from every corner of the world."
She also said she enjoyed the many nontraditional students she met and worked with, particular the older adult students.
The 2013 commencement address was given by Tom Schnurr, the chief executive officer of First American Bank in Des Moines. He is also a 1972 graduate of Iowa Central.
"Back then I had a 6-inch ponytail and a beard," he said.
While fashions have changed since then, he said, the things that will make the students successful in life have not.
"When something happens, how you react will shape and define who you are," he said
He urged the students to be positive, focus on their goals, practice excellent communication skills and conduct themselves in an honest and dependable manner.
"You'll be surprised at how many ethically and morally challenged people you'll meet," he cautioned.
He also urged them to think of something greater than just themselves such as family, community, friends and church.
He left them with one bit of advice he credited to a Fort Dodge chiropractor, Dr. Josh Mason.
"Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise," he said.
Connie Oberg, of Fort Dodge, graduated with a degree as an administrative specialist.
She's self-employed in her own powder coating business.
"This will help in my business," she said.
Of course, with a line of 500 students to walk across the stage, somebody, had to be first.
This year, the honor fell to Dannette Amodeo, of Farnhamville; she earned her GED.
She was hoping to get through it.
"This is nerve-racking," she said."
For the record, she did fine.