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63rd commencement ceremony student speakers

April 9, 2024

Emma Howell and Krystal Sanders Delta College commencement student speakers

Emma Howell (left) and Krystal Sanders (right)

Making the decision to go to college and pursue a degree can be difficult. This may be especially true for first-generation and non-traditional students. Recent Delta College graduates, Emma Howell and Krystal Sanders, share their experiences ahead of the 63rd Commencement ceremony.

Emma Howell

Hometown: Essexville, MI
Program of Study: Public Health – transferring to University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Campus Involvement: Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa, All Michigan Academic Team, Astronomy Club, study abroad and student employment—astronomy tutor
Scholarships: Presidential Honors Scholarship, Bay Commitment Scholarship and a Bay-Arenac ISD Healthcare Scholarship

As a first-generation college student, Emma was intimidated by the prospect of making the transition from high school to college. But with the guidance she received from her Student Success Advisor, she describes her experience as very positive and easy to manage.

“Delta made the transition [from high school] super easy,” says Emma. “I have friends that went straight to universities, and they have had a hard time just making an appointment to talk to someone. I’m glad I started my college career here as opposed to a university. Especially as a first-generation student, I would have been lost.”

Emma feels what sets Delta apart from other schools is the attentive faculty and staff. She encourages current and future students to not be afraid to talk and ask questions. The faculty and staff at Delta are here to help and they can connect you to opportunities you might not have known were available.

“I feel like a priority to the staff and faculty here and have had many opportunities to be involved on campus. The easiest thing you can do is talk to your advisor and your instructors,” advised Emma. “It was a professor that recommended me for the astronomy tutor job; it was a professor that recommended me for the Belize study abroad trip; and it was a professor who recommended I apply to be a student speaker at commencement.”

Emma has grown a lot and has significantly expanded her resume over the past two years at Delta. She is excited and feels prepared to explore the various branches of public health while continuing her education at UM-Ann Arbor.

Krystal Sanders

Hometown: Midland, MI
Program of Study: Medical Administrative Assistant
Campus Involvement: Phi Theta Kappa and Veteran Services
Recognitions: President’s List, Vice President’s List and Dean’s List

Krystal joined the US Air Force out of high school, bringing her to live in Arizona and Texas before being medically discharged for an injury received on base. She took time to travel the world and experience a variety of cultures by living in Florida, Oregon, Australia and Sweden. After living in San Diego and Las Vegas for several years, she decided to return to Michigan and settled in Bay City, where she has been for the past 10 years.

“I’ve been working in a medical administrative role for about six years now and I saw the impact that the healthcare field was having on people. I wanted to empower myself with more knowledge to understand the significance of my role more deeply. I thought with that, I could make a larger contribution to my community.”

As a non-traditional student, Krystal found it challenging to get back into the mind frame of being a student. Juggling her everyday responsibilities with her new academic responsibilities was difficult in the beginning. But with Delta’s course flexibility, she found balance by taking many of her classes online or in the evening. She gave herself grace and found her rhythm.

“Delta made everything so seamless and easy for me,” says Krystal. “Once I got in contact with the Veterans Service Advisor, she explained to me everything that I needed. I didn’t have to worry about anything.”

If there is one thing Krystal would hope for current or future students, it would be to seek opportunities and go after what interests you. Even if it sends you on a new path. Life is too precious and unpredictable to waste it on things that don’t make you smile.

“Don’t be afraid of failure. It’s how we learn and grow,” advises Krystal. “Everyone here is just trying to figure [their lives] out just like you. If you decide to change your major the first year or the fifth year, it doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you’re doing something that brings you joy.”