HOUGHTON - It's been a long road for Talisha Sutton, who was sitting among her peers in the 2011 graduating class of Michigan Technological University Saturday.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., native was waiting to receive her bachelor's degree after spending five years studying biochemistry and molecular biology with a chemistry concentration and pharmaceutical chemistry, with a minor in international Spanish, knowing the next step in life would be working in the field for a few years and then to eventually work toward a Ph.D.
"I'm really anxious and I can't believe that this moment is finally here," Sutton said. "I'm looking forward to what comes next."
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Norman Augustine addresses graduates at Saturday’s spring commencement at Michigan Technological University. For more photos, visit cu.mininggazette.com.
Sutton not only worked hard at Tech during college to mold her future, but she also did it for her 4-year-old daughter, who she cared for alone over the years.
"There have been many opportunities I have (received) here," she said. "They understand the fact that I'm a single mother."
Sutton gave birth to her daughter during her freshman year; she hopes her daughter appreciates the experience.
"I hope she sees what education has to offer and that it's important," she said. "You need it to go far."
Sutton said she'll miss the small school environment the most, as well as the help she received from her mentors.
"It was being able to get to know the teachers and the faculty, and even up to the president on a personal level," she said. "I know those are things you can't get at a larger school."
Good friends Danielle Linna and Theresa Laubrick were also in the crowd Saturday, anxiously awaiting graduation. The two friends not only built a strong relationship with each other, but they will also now be working for the same company, with one based in Detroit and the other in Milwaukee.
"She'll be in my wedding," Laubrick said, as Linna agreed.
Mark Panasiewicz, a self-proclaimed non-traditional student, also graduated Saturday. Barely into his forties, Panasiewicz, who received his first degree, was once a corrections officer for many years. After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, he decided to make the decision to switch careers.
"After I beat the brain tumor, I decided to go back to school," he said.
Panasiewicz started in 2006 and received a degree in psychology at Tech. He will pursue a master's degree at Michigan State University.
Commencement speaker Norman Augustine took the stage to speak to the students about technology and education.
"If you think about the major problems the Earth faces and our country faces, the solution for most of them is going to be largely technology," he said.
Augustine said he hopes students take away an understanding of the importance of global technology.
"It's a global undertaking for which they need to be a part," he said.
Nearly 1,000 graduates received degrees Saturday at Michigan Tech.
"At Michigan Tech, you've had the opportunity to seek what the future is and what it can be," President Glenn Mroz told the class of 2011.