IRONWOOD - It's not every day that a father and son dress up in green gowns and walk a stage in front of hundreds of people, but that's exactly what happened at Gogebic Community College's commencement ceremony on Friday.
Jim Chiapuzio, 51, graduated with an associate of applied technology degree, and his son, Jordy, 20, graduated with an associate of arts degree in criminal justice.
"I'm glad to be done," Jim Chiapuzio said. "It was hard, though. After being out 33 years and then having to do math and English and business and psychology, and all that stuff. There was times that I didn't even start homework until 9 or 10 o'clock at night."
Jim Chiapuzio was raising five kids, and working, but he made the dean's list most semesters.
His first year at GCC, he would see his sons in the hallway.
"They'd kind of see me and turn the other way," he said jokingly. "My biggest inspiration was my boys, cheering me on through the whole thing. They were supportive; they helped me out in a lot of ways to get through it."
Jordy Chiapuzio is considering furthering his education at the police academy, but for now he's content with graduation.
"It was a good accomplishment," he said.
About 140 people decided to join the Chiapuzios in wearing the green gowns and walking across the stage for commencement, but there were around 260 degrees given out by the college in total.
Jim Lorenson, GCC president, challenged the graduates to use their skills and knowledge to their benefits.
"As you do so, treat people with respect and do your best," he said. "Your education will benefit you in incalculable ways for years to come. No matter what field you have studied, your education at Gogebic has strengthened your abilities to learn and to be a lifelong learner."
John Garske, president and owner of Coleman Engineering Company, delivered the commencement address.
He urged graduates to get involved in the area and stay positive in their pursuits.
"You're going to hear people say, 'That can't be done. Oh, that's not the way we do things around here,'" Garske told graduates. "Baloney! Stay positive. Look for the good in everything and everybody. It will make you a better person and will have a much better effect on your life, and all those around you. Stay positive and forget the naysayers."