Care and Community
It’s an environment familiar to anyone in education: graduation, caps and gowns, pomp and circumstance, a huge crowd, inspirational speeches.
Yet, in the hands of documentary filmmakers Kahane Cooperman and John Hoffman—combined with the thoughtful words of Amarillo College graduate Alicia Morin—a scene in the 2020 documentary The Antidote transcends the familiar aspects of a graduation ceremony. In her commencement speech, Morin highlights the power of care and compassion, celebrating the strength that resides in and around a community college, with an emphasis on community.
In front of thousands of graduates, faculty, staff, and supporters at a civic center in Texas, U.S., Morin takes a breath and says:
“Stand if you have ever gone to a study session and you or someone brought food. Stand if you have ever lent or borrowed a textbook. Stand if you have ever helped tutor a student who needed help with a class. And, lastly, stand if you helped a fellow student out with encouragement, direction, accountability, or even love.”
The camera pans across the graduates and everyone is standing. “You see,” she says, choking back tears, “we all are here today because we all helped each other.”
It’s a moment made more powerful because viewers have already learned about Morin’s path to this moment. Her challenges (low-paying jobs, single-motherhood, and depression) were met with support from Amarillo College’s Advocacy and Resources Center with counseling, financial assistance, and groceries. It’s a scene enhanced by the footage of the college’s social workers helping not just Morin, but many students.
Amarillo College is one of many institutions featured in the documentary (available via Amazon Prime Video and other methods). College President Russell Lowery-Hart says he was honored the college was featured in the film among other programs and people seeking to better their communities.
“In an era of turmoil and division, it shows that at our core, we’re a loving, caring people trying to find ways to serve each other,” he says. “It just gives me hope that we’re inherently good people.”
About the author(s)
Bryan Wawzenek was a content creator at CASE.
Article appears in:
Community, Celebration, and Change: How traditions bridge past, present, and future. Plus, understanding how equity is central to institutions’ pursuit of social and racial justice, engaging alumni of color, and investing in alumni during trying times.