Senator Blumenthal Joins Chorus of Congratulations
MIDDLETOWN, CONN., (June 1, 2016) – For the third year in a row, Middlesex Community College has awarded degrees to a record-setting number of students. The College’s 49th commencement ceremony, held May 26, included 471 students, which is a 14 percent increase over its number of 2015 graduates. These students earned degrees in 24 different disciplines, as well as certificates in 24 different areas of study, and 75 received more than one degree and/or certificate, which was another record for MxCC. Additionally, this is the first graduating class for the College’s new Radiology Certificates in Computed Tomography and Mammography.
The students came to MxCC from 79 surrounding towns and ranged in age from a set of sixteen year old twins to 67. There were 15 veterans and seven international students among this graduating class.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal made a special stop at the College to congratulate students and their families who supported them during their long journey.
“Anyone who thinks the American Dream is no longer alive ought to come here to MxCC,” he said. “You are at the cutting edge of the American Dream. If anyone here feels uncertain about jobs, they are out there when you have the skills – and you have them!”
The evening began in 85-degree heat with a procession of students led by the MxCC Veterans Color Guard. A trio of MxCC students – Jessica Grote (class of 2016), Marina Cappezzone and Daniel Ortiz – sang the National Anthem before MxCC President Dr. Anna Wasescha made welcoming remarks.
“For the past three years, I have been welcoming the largest class in the history of MxCC, and, each year, our classes keep getting bigger,” President Wasescha said with a smile. “I congratulate each and every one of you and applaud those who helped you to stay the course.”
Dr. Wasescha encouraged students to remember their time at MxCC as a period of exploration and discovery. Later in the evening after she conferred degrees, Dr. Wasescha charged each student to keep learning every day of their lives. “Learn so that you can improve your own life and the lives of others around you,” she said. “I charge you to embrace change. Learning is about change. When we learn, we change. Smart people are able to change their minds because when they learn something new, it increases the complexity of their mental models. Strive to be smart, to learn and to change.”
Kevin Wilhelm, chairman of the Regional Advisory Council, advised graduates to approach the next steps of their lives with boldness, compassion and creativity. “Create your own opportunities,” he said. “It is possible you can change your piece of the world.”
Joseph Tolisano from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and Richard J. Balducci from the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education each congratulated graduates and their families.
“Be proud of your accomplishments. Going to college is daunting, especially in today’s society,” Balducci said. “For those students who work full time, take care of families, or are in the military, it is a real honor to say thank you for what you have done and will do in the future.”
Izzi Greenberg, executive director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children and a proud graduate of both Middlesex Community College and Wesleyan University, delivered the commencement address. As a self-described non-traditional learner, Izzi shared how she carved out a unique life built on a willingness to have experiences. She encouraged students to “get curious and stay that way,” reminding them that just as they are part of a learning community here at MxCC, they will be part of a living community when they leave.
“You don’t need to stick to a certain path; you don’t even need to have a path in mind,” she told the crowd. “Be non-traditional. Travel. Get your BA. Write songs. Follow your heart. Your lifetime of stories will be well worth it. I wish you a very windy road and more adventures than you can handle.”
MxCC’s youngest graduates were 16-year-old twins Noah and Ben Radcliffe. Ben read his original poem, “We Must Never,” which is a sincere reflection on letting go of childhood while trying to hold onto it.
During the ceremony Angelique Ortiz was named 2016 Class Valedictorian. She joined Mary Lou Cooke and Joshua Rivera as recipients of MxCC’s Awards for Academic Excellence for achieving a perfect 4.00 grade point average (and completing 50 percent of their requirements at MxCC). Angelique and Joshua also received the Pritchett-Taylor Awards for having the highest cumulative quality point average among students who have earned at least 30 credits at MxCC, and who have attended full-time for at least two semesters.
MxCC Associate Dean of Development Cheryl Dumont-Smith presented the MxCC Distinguished Service Award to Attorney Julé Crawford, who graduated from MxCC in 1979 with an Associate’s Degree in English. Julé is a tireless champion and supporter of the College, serving on the MxCC Foundation Board of Directors and helping create the Red Moon Fest fundraising event. She fully credits MxCC with opening the world to her and giving her the educational foundation and rigorous training to succeed in school and in life.
“It was that first step through MxCC’s open and welcoming door that made all my later steps possible,” she said to the graduating class. “Now you are alumni, members of an elite group built over nearly 50 years and 80,000 strong. That group surrounds you in your community. They are achievers and you are one of them. Please give back however and whenever you can. Give those students following you a chance to start and give them a chance to stand where you are now.”