For the second year in a row, Middlesex Community College awarded degrees to a record-setting number of students. At the College’s 48th commencement ceremony, held May 28, 404 students received 452 degrees and certificates, a 20 percent increase from last year’s class. The students, who ranged in age from 19 – 62, came to MxCC from 48 different Connecticut towns. They earned associate degrees and certificates in 15 programs, representing 28 different disciplines. Forty-three students were awarded multiple degrees and/or certificates.
MxCC students graduated from three new degree programs in 2015: Veterinary Technology, Health Information Management and Computer Information Technology. This was also the first graduating class of students to receive certificates in Biotechnology, Health Information Management, Ophthalmic Medical Assisting, and Child Development Associate.
“As our graduating classes continue to increase in number, it is clear that something magical is happening here,” President Dr. Anna Wasescha said during the ceremony. “MxCC now has a total of more than 80,000 alumni who have changed their communities for the good, whether that is here in Connecticut or around the world. This is the power of community colleges.”
Kevin Wilhelm, chair of MxCC’s Regional Advisory Board, and Matt Fleury, representing the Board of Regents for Higher Education at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, offered greetings and words of encouragement for graduates.
“Your own perseverance and persistence got you here,” Fleury said. “And you should have great pride in your achievement from this great institution.”
Rebekah Roy from Guilford was the student representative speaker for the class of 2015. As Roy prepares to enter the University of St. Joseph’s to study public health and pre-law, she reflected on the impact MxCC has had on her life. She credited her fellow students and the faculty and staff at MxCC for encouraging her to keep pushing forward. “I am more attuned to my community than I ever would have imagined,” she said. “And that is because of the opportunities MxCC provided all of us.”
The keynote speaker was MxCC alumna Tanya Henderson, founder and executive director of Mina’s List, a non-profit foundation created “to realize women’s equal and substantive representation in national governments around the world.” She credits MxCC with giving her the chance to redefine the direction of her life, find her passion, and establish herself as a scholar. After a rocky high school experience, Henderson earned an associate’s degree from MxCC, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, a J.D. from Suffolk University of Law School, and a LL.M degree in international law from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her list of accomplishments is long and spans the globe, affecting policy in the U.S., Afghanistan, Lebanon and Ethiopia. Citing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Henderson told students to remember they must “rise and rise again” throughout their entire lives, never rest and never give up.
During the ceremony, Amy Grace White of Guilford was named as class valedictorian. She earned this designation by having a perfect 4.0 grade point average and earning the greatest number of credits at MxCC. Three other students also earned 4.0 GPAs: Brendan Gavin of Bristol, Ty Griswold of Unionville, and Jodie Pastore of Newington. White and Griswold received the MxCC Foundation Pritchett-Taylor awards, given to students with the highest GPA.
MxCC Associate Dean of Development Cheryl Dumont-Smith presented the MxCC Distinguished Service Award to Rosario Rizzo, Jr., (Riz), who graduated from MxCC in 1971 and went on to a successful 39-year career as the public affairs manager for Pratt & Whitney. He has been a lifelong supporter and volunteer of both the College and the surrounding communities. Rizzo encouraged students to build relationships with mentors in their desired careers, volunteer, give back to their community, and someday become mentors themselves to future students.