When Brian Sipe graduated from Elk Lake in 1992, he said, “I am outta’ here.”
After spending four years away “in the big, bad real world” and obtaining a degree in environmental science, he was ready to return.
Sipe, owner of the The Sipe Agency Inc., spoke at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center graduation ceremony held Thursday, June 6, at Elk Lake.
In his remarks to the Class of 2019, he highlighted choices he made along his career path. Sipe worked for 11 years at Proctor & Gamble before an opportunity to get in the insurance business came along.
“I knew nothing about insurance,” he said. “This seemed like a great opportunity. I don’t think any of us are too old to learn something new.”
He studied and got his insurance license. Sipe said that with a wife, one child and another on the way, the decision to leave a job that offered security and benefits was a difficult one. “It was a big decision for a young family,” he said. But he embarked on the new career in 2008 and about one and one-half years ago, bought the agency.
“The moral of my story is choice,” Sipe said. “We all make them – big and small – every day.”
“My advice to all you soon-to-be graduates is to always make your choice. Own that choice regardless of consequence. Learn from that choice – both good and bad. And always choose opportunity, or better yet, choose to find opportunity,” Sipe said. “And most importantly, at the end of the day, never forget who made that choice – it’s yours.”
Sipe was on-hand at the ceremony to present the Outstanding Senior Award to Adam Roe of Blue Ridge. Roe held the top grade point average; is member of the National Technical Honor Society; a silver medalist in the Skills USA competition; and scored advanced proficient on the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute Exam.
Upon graduation, Roe will enlist in the ROTC and plans to attend Penn College of Technology for construction management.
Madison Sickler, president of the FBLA and Skills USA, delivered the graduate remarks. “We have all gained invaluable skills and training while attending SCCTC that will open many doors for us in the future,” she said.
Sickler said she initially joined the business education classes with the plan to become an accountant. “That dream changed and morphed into an even better goal as a result of my education and because of my teacher, Mrs. Lisa Smith.”
Sickler advised her fellow graduates to keep following their dreams and continue to work to accomplish their goals.
“Don’t be afraid to say three special words, ‘I need help,’” she advised. “We can do anything, but we can’t do everything by ourselves.”
SCCTC Executive Director Alice Davis also delivered remarks at the ceremony. She said that of the students in the Class of 2019, eight percent are joining the military; 35 percent are continuing their education at a college or trade school; 27 percent have already secured employment.
Davis said, “I believe that all students can achieve; what we learn with pleasure, we never forget. This is the heart of career and technical education. The people seated on this stage exemplify success in a career and technical environment.”
She noted significant student accomplishments, certifications and awards, as well as community service projects.
“Students, although we have prepared you with the academic and technical skills necessary to succeed, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to approach the next journey of your life with a teachable spirit – a spirit that guides you to associate with the right people and to laugh often,” Davis continued.
SCCTC and Elk Lake School Board Vice President Arden Tewksbury also offered up some remarks prior to the diplomas being conferred.
Tewksbury outlined the origins of the tech center and paid tribute to the work of Richard Serfass, William Bush, Kenneth Cuomo, and Davis in making the SCCTC a successful venture.
SCCTC Instructor and Master of Ceremonies Gary Fenton called each graduate to the stage where they each received their diploma and congratulations from a member of the Board of Education.