Wake Technical Community College graduated its largest class ever on Saturday, sending 1,497 students into the world with degrees and certificates designed to help them find jobs or to launch them at four-year universities.
Nearly 800 of those graduates participated in the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Members of the class of 2015 range in age from 17 to 65, said school spokeswoman Laurie Clowers.
This year’s class includes the first graduates of Wake Tech’s new associate in applied science degree in health and fitness science, and associate in fine arts with either a music or visual arts concentration.
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Wake Tech also had its first Wake Early College of Health and Sciences students to earn radiography degrees while still in high school.
The new programs reflect the school’s emphasis on training students for jobs the market demands.
“I could become a personal fitness trainer or manage a gym,” said an excited Danielle Hamid, who lives in Fuquay-Varina and is finishing up at Wake Tech.
Hamid was one of seven students who started in the health and fitness program when it was launched, she said. Several hundred are enrolled now. She was one of two to graduate from it Saturday.
Though she has always participated in athletics, Hamid said she has enjoyed learning the science of fitness, especially how to help people with physical limitations or illnesses — such as arthritis and diabetes — find ways to exercise.
Hamid has already begun putting her studies to work, in her job at a children’s gymnastics facility and on campus at Wake Tech, where she has worked with faculty and staff during “lunch and learn” sessions.
“It’s nice to feel like we’re helping already,” she said.
In addition to its main campus outside Fuquay-Varina, Wake Tech offers courses at four other campuses and online, serving nearly 70,000 students a year. The school offers more than 180 associate degrees, diplomas and certificates.
It handed out its first diplomas — 30 in all — in the 1963-64 school year.