Corning Community College bid farewell to 637 graduates on Friday evening during its 55th commencement.

Corning Community College bid farewell to 637 graduates on Friday evening during its 55th commencement.

The ceremony, held at Elmira’s First Arena, was presided over by Dr. Kate Douglas, college president, and Dr. Neil Milliken, chair of the college’s Regional Board of Trustees.

There were plenty of notable facts and figures about the Class of 2014.

As usual, most of the graduates were local, with 44 percent of the class hailing from Chemung County, 40 percent from Steuben County and six percent from Schuyler County. There were also some out-of-state grads, and remarkably, there were also graduates who were natives of seven foreign countries: Rwanda, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Argentina, Russia and Great Britain.

The flags of those countries were hung on stage during Friday’s ceremony.

There were quite a few more women (61 percent of the class) than men (39 percent). The youngest graduate was 17, the oldest was 63.

There were 332 Associate in Science degrees and 284 Associate in Applied Science degrees awarded, along with 18 Associate in Occupational Studies degrees, three Associate in Art degrees and 25 certificates.

Seven students graduated with a 4.0 program grade point average, and six students with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average.

The Class of 2014 included the first five graduates under the Presidential Scholar program - Amelia Kimble, Thomas Milliken, Richelle Parulski, Erin Sweeney and Abby Winch. They graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, allowing them to get associate degrees with no tuition debt along with guaranteed placement in a four-year SUNY school to get a bachelor’s degree.

The class also included the first three graduates of the Chemical Technology program, a partnership with Corning Inc. under the Technician Pipeline program: Arnette Brooks, Brandy Fuller and Sibrina Nicholson.

And as always, there were some interesting stories in the Class of 2014, like Narvic Shelanskey’s.

Like many other grads, he didn’t follow the traditional path to his degree. He graduated from West High in 2004, then spent four years serving in the Navy, including several deployments to the Middle East.

After being honorably discharged, Shelanskey found a job at Sikorsky, but he was put in a tough spot when the helicopter manufacturer shut down its Big Flats plant last year, putting hundreds out of work.

But he used the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act to go to CCC, tuition-free.

“Like anybody that’s ever lost a job, there was of course some level of concern,” Shelanskey said. “But I try to look at things positively, so when I found out they were offering to send us for schooling because of the way they were laying us off, I took that as a positive.”

“I was already going part-time, so figured it would give me the chance to really go hard after my degree,” he added.

Shelanskey wound up with an Associate of Applied Science degree in machine tool technology, as well as a certificate in Computer Numerical Control Programming, graduating with honors.

“Now I just have a lot more background, besides just being able to stand at a machine and operate it, with my degree I can be a machinist, I could be an engineer, a programmer, some type of designer - so it’s really broadened my choices,” he said.

He’s already landed a job at Corning Inc.

And on Friday, he became the first person in his immediate family to earn a college diploma, he said.

“To me it’s a great honor,” he said. “I’m really excited about it.”