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Parting tips for grads

Actress Marcia Wallace offers a message to live life fully and cultivate friendships.

Actress Marcia Wallace was the principal speaker at Luzerne County Community College’s 40th Annual Commencement on Thursday at the Wachovia Arena.

Pete g. wilcox photos/the times leader

Shevaun Ambrose waves to familiar faces during LCCC’s commencement ceremony.

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Emmy-award winning actress Marcia Wallace recalled a conversation she had with her husband two weeks before he died from pancreatic cancer.

“Oh honey, this is horrible,” she said. “But I am so glad we used our good china.”

Wallace, who is known for her role as Bob Newhart’s secretary on “The Bob Newhart Show” and for providing the voice of Bart Simpson’s teacher on “The Simpsons,” was the principal speaker at Luzerne County Community College’s 40th Annual Commencement Thursday night at Wachovia Arena. LCCC President Thomas P. Leary conferred 721 associate’s degrees, 34 certificates and eight diplomas during the ceremony.

Wallace asked graduates to take her husband’s comments to heart and to live a life with no regrets.

“Be true to yourself, be good to yourself and use your good china,” she said.

She also offered a quote from her father – which would also become the title of a book she wrote at the age of 60: “No sense in looking backward, we’re not going there.”

Wallace said to be aware that the path you think you’re headed on may not be the one you end up on. “Because life is life, there are detours; you may end up in a better place.”

Wallace told of how she had aspirations of being a journalist, but was told she didn’t “have a nose for news,” and then decided to pursue an acting career in New York City. She wanted to study acting under a particular acting coach, but after an audition wasn’t chosen. This just motivated her to find another acting coach, she said.

“My point is to not limit yourself or get discouraged and go home,” she said, alluding to how this Midwestern native didn’t give up and didn’t leave the Big Apple.

Wallace, a breast cancer survivor, also encouraged female graduates to start taking responsibility for breast health through self-exams and regular exams with physicians. She also told the graduates’ mothers to get mammograms and continue to visit their physicians regularly.

In his address, Leary acknowledged that for most of the graduates, the hard work didn’t end when they left the classroom each day. They had household chores, full- or part-time jobs, and children or parents to take care of. He applauded those who persevered despite second-guessing themselves. Christina Marie Cobb, who received an associate’s degree in applied sciences in nursing and graduated summa cum laude, addressed her classmates.

Cobb, who admitted some fear as she began her studies, said the sense of community she felt at LCCC was what helped her.

“I was surrounded by examples of determination, focus and camaraderie,” she said, stressing that graduates need to continue this sense of community in whatever they may do after they leave LCCC.

Two graduates were presented with awards. Al-Nisa Bracey received the Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Award, and Marlene R. Minnick was the recipient of the Outstanding Adult Learner Graduate Award.

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