Johnson named NPCC student commencement speaker

Avery Johnson student speaker
Monday, April 25, 2022

Avery Johnson, of Hayes Center, has been selected as this year’s student commencement speaker at North Platte Community College.

Johnson will address perceptions of community colleges, talk about the wonderful experiences she had and explain the benefits of community colleges versus four-year colleges and universities.

“One thing I’ve learned from attending NPCC is that students come from all walks of life,” Johnson said. “Students I’ve been in contact with work full-time and part-time jobs while attending classes. They’re students with kids of their own who are bettering themselves to provide for their families. They’re students who were not ready to hang up their shoes and willingly jumped at the chance to play a collegiate sport. NPCC met the needs of these students.”

Johnson will be the first to admit she didn’t want to attend a college so close to home following her high school graduation. She wanted to get away and have the university experience from the very beginning. She changed her mind upon setting foot at NPCC.

“NPCC just felt like home,” Johnson said. “Everyone was so nice and welcoming. I liked the programs and the small class sizes. I grew up with 10 kids in my high school class, so I wanted something similar – a place where the instructors would know my name.”

It was the affordability aspect that sealed the deal, however. Johnson was awarded a $1,000 Nebraska Open/NPPD Scholarship and a $150 Linda Kriha Memorial PTK Scholarship from the NPCC Foundation.

She also received a two-year volleyball scholarship to play on the Knights volleyball team that covered her tuition, fees and books, and last fall, Johnson earned a $1,600 scholarship for serving as Student Senate president.

“The scholarships made a huge impact on my decision to attend NPCC,” Johnson said. “I knew I wasn’t going to have to pay for a thing.”

Attending NPCC gave her the confidence to pursue many opportunities that Johnson feels might have been overwhelming had she started out at a larger college or university.

In addition to playing on both the Knights volleyball and basketball teams and being Student Senate president, Johnson is also the student representative for the Mid-Plains Community College Board of Governors and serves as a student ambassador, science tutor and biology aid.

She has consistently been on the President’s List for maintaining a grade point average of 3.9 or higher on a 4.0 scale, and in February, Johnson was named Business Student of the Month.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of things during my time at NPCC,” Johnson said. “And now, I feel prepared for the next step.”

For her, the next step will be earning an Associate of Applied Science degree from NPCC. Johnson will transfer to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Eventually, she plans to apprentice and take online classes to obtain a degree in mortuary science. Her ultimate goal is to become a funeral director.

“Being at NPCC has been truly a life changing experience,” Johnson said. “During my time on campus, I was surrounded by good and beautiful people. I had teachers and faculty who were compassionate, encouraging, understanding and supportive, teammates who will be in my wedding someday and, finally, connections and relationships that will last a lifetime. These good people I built around me pushed me to be where I am today.”

The public is invited to listen to Johnson’s commencement speech at 3 p.m. May 13. The ceremony will be in the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium on the NPCC South Campus, 601 W. State Farm Rd., in North Platte.

A livestream will also be available at

(Headshot courtesy of George Hipple Photography)