Abbee Elwell gives the student address at the Washtenaw Community College commencement ceremony on May 18. Elwell simultaneously graduated with an associate degree from WCC and a high school diploma from Washtenaw Technical Middle College. (Photo by Lon Horwedel)


Abbee Elwell has been taking college classes at Washtenaw Community College since she was a 14-year-old freshman at Washtenaw Technical Middle College. On Saturday, May 19, she delivered the student address at the WCC 2019 Commencement Ceremony and crossed the stage to receive the associate degree in General Studies in Math and Natural Sciences she earned with a 3.94 GPA.

Hours later, the high honors college graduate picked up her high school diploma at WTMC’s graduation.

In her speech, Elwell reflected on her first class at WCC, describing some of the students surrounding her as a woman who “became black” upon entering the United States, a Detroit native passionate about justice, a traditional Catholic going into the police academy and a black veteran in a wheelchair working toward law school. “It was certainly not a typical high school class,” she said.

Ultimately, that kind of diversity is what Elwell found most valuable about her time on the WCC campus.

“In times where we see the threshold for offensive speech continually being lowered, yet the need for sensitivity and grace at an all-time high, WCC is one of the best places to be learning right now,” she said. “Our class is one of the greatest displays of how people from different backgrounds can come together and really learn from each other.”

Elwell plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in economics at either the University of Michigan or Hillsdale College.