More than 1,000 degrees and certificates were awarded Sunday as Southern Maine Community College held its 70th commencement exercises at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Ron Cantor

The 1,022 students in the class of 2017 came from all 16 Maine counties, 16 other states and 16 foreign countries, said Clarke Canfield, spokesman for the South Portland-based college.

SMCC President Ron Cantor presided over the ceremony, and award-winning broadcast journalist Bill Green, the host of “Bill Green’s Maine” on WCSH-TV and WLBZ-TV, was the keynote speaker.

“The Class of 2017 has distinguished itself, and our graduates can go anywhere from here,” Cantor said.

More than 94 percent of SMCC students enter the workforce or transfer to another school within nine months of graduation, Canfield said. SMCC graduates will attend the University of Southern Maine, University of Maine, University of New England, Bentley University, Lesley University and the Culinary Institute of America.

Bill Green

“Now I know what I want to do, and it’s because of SMCC. The college and the people here helped me shape my goals for the future,” said Liberal Studies graduate Zakia Momand, who plans to attend law school eventually. Momand has a dream of practicing law in her parents’ home country of Afghanistan, with a focus on women’s rights and human rights.

Momand spoke no English and had little formal schooling when she moved from Pakistan to Portland in 2009.

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