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Columbia College to hold commencement ceremony Dec. 19
Friday, December 18, 2009

Columbia College will hold its winter commencement ceremony at noon Saturday, Dec. 19 at the Southwell Complex, 700 Rangeline Road, just north of Rogers Street on the Columbia College main campus.

President Gerald Brouder will confer degrees to a total of 388 students. Of that number, 85 associate degrees will be awarded, 272 bachelor's degrees and 31 master's degrees.

"Commencement is always exciting as students come to the main campus from throughout Missouri, but we have graduates from across the nation as well," Brouder said. "In fact, we are proud that we were able to provide an education to a student from Columbia even as he served his country in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Navy Petty Officer First Class, Master at Arms Brant Baylis graduates with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration. Baylis graduated from Rock Bridge High School in 1995, where he played outside linebacker. He also played safety for Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Mo. He joined the Navy in 2000. Baylis was first sent to Guantanamo in 2005, where he found Columbia College.

"It just seemed to be destiny," Baylis said. "There I was, thousands of miles from home, and there was the same college. I just started knocking the classes out." He received an associate degree in 2008.

In addition to Baylis, other graduates hail from the Missouri campuses in Jefferson City, Kansas City, Moberly, Christian County, Lake Ozark, St. Louis, Rolla and Kansas City. Of the 18 Columbia College campuses on military bases, the following campuses also have December graduates: Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and Whidbey Island, Wash.

Dr. Chris Belcher, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, will be the commencement speaker. Belcher has 26 years of education experience in Missouri schools, having served in various teaching and administrative positions. He also served as associate professor of secondary education at the University of Central Missouri.

Columbia College, a private, nonprofit institution founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., educates more than 26,000 students each year and has more than 64,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit