John Valenca of Falling Waters, W.Va., talked about worldwide poverty and the threat of terrorism.
"Through all this craziness, we managed to graduate from college," said Valenca, who earned an associate's degree in business administration. "Education is the key to solving all of our worldly problems."
Yvonne Wood of Hedgesville, W.Va., praised HBC for promoting a good learning environment.
She thanked her husband and two children for their support while she earned an associate's degree in health information technology.
The North High auditorium was packed with friends and family members of the graduates.
Cathy Morris of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., carried a bouquet of flowers and a balloon to congratulate her daughter, Lori Morris, for becoming a certified medical assistant.
"I'm proud of her. Real proud," she said.
Lori Morris already has a job lined up at a doctor's office, her mother said.
Kristin Schildt, 22, of Thurmont, Md., has a part-time job with the Washington County Board of Education.
Now that she has an associate's degree as a legal assistant, she hopes it will become a full-time job this summer.
During the commencement ceremony, HBC President Christopher Motz made a special presentation to retired Dean of Students Cas Kriechbaum, who taught at the college for 15 years and at Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School for 28 years.