CT State Middlesex Students Celebrate Inaugural Commencement

graduation collageMay 23, 2024 (New Britain, Conn.) — Connecticut State Community College Middlesex (formerly Middlesex Community College) celebrated graduates from the class of 2024 with Commencement exercises that took place on Thursday evening, May 23, at Central Connecticut State University. The ceremony marked the first graduation under the name CT State Middlesex, as the state’s community colleges merged into Connecticut State Community College on July 1, 2023.

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In total, the college awarded 319 degrees and certificates. Among the graduates are 15 students with military background. Forty-three percent are the first generation in their families to earn a college degree. Thirty-nine percent of the graduates are 25 years old or older.

While the youngest graduate is 18 years old, the oldest graduate at Middlesex—and all of CT State—this year is 82-year-old Susan Varrichio (Old Saybrook), a general studies major. She attended classes over a span of 17 years and completed coursework online.

Through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, a unique partnership with Middlesex and the Connecticut Department of Correction, two graduates completed their degrees while incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution. These students will receive their diplomas in a separate ceremony on June 5.

The Commencement exercises began with Stephen Krevisky, mathematics professor and college marshal, who carried in the ceremonial mace.

Carla Cerina, a longtime Middlesex adjunct professor of English, performed the national anthem.

Donna Bontatibus, Ph.D., dean of students and faculty, presided over the ceremony. Dean Bontatibus read the welcoming speech prepared by Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Hogan, who could not attend due to illness.

“Class of 2024, you are a class of adaptability,” wrote CEO Hogan. “This adjective highlights your ability to adjust and thrive in different environments and circumstances, demonstrating you have flexibility and resilience in the face of change.”

Richard Porth of the state’s Board of Regents also gave greetings.

“I say to the whole class of 2024, I think Connecticut is in good shape for the future. We have good, smart, hard-working people like you, and your turn is next,” he said.

Connecticut State Colleges and University Chancellor Terrence Cheng, praised his favorite things about CT State Middlesex, CEO Hogan and the Center for New Media, before taking a selfie photo with the audience.

“When you swing, swing big. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure teaches you how to be better next time,” advised Chancellor Cheng.

Ephraim Mosher (Meriden), a social work studies major and vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society Middlesex chapter, shared his college experience as the student speaker.

“Let’s take that curiosity that brought us all here and bring it out to the world. Every person has a story with incredible depth to it,” said Mosher, after telling his story about working as an intern with pregnant and parenting teens. “You never know what wonderful new insight you may gain about a corner of the world if you simply ask the people who live in it.”

Mosher plans to further his studies in social work by attending Southern Connecticut State University this fall.

Following an inspiring poetry reading by English graduate and Navy veteran Alex Garro (Waterford), Dean Bontatibus introduced the Commencement speaker, Kara Sundlun, a three-time Emmy-award winning journalist from WFSB Channel 3 based in Hartford.

“Tonight, I’m here really to celebrate you and all your hard work,” said Sundlun. “But, to truly live the life that you are meant to lead, you need to uncover your purpose. That means building a bridge to your heart. It is when our hearts and minds are aligned, that you are truly limitless.”

Kelsey Lankton (veterinary technician), Cara Edwards (radiography), Mosher and Varrichio each earned the Medallion for Academic Excellence, presented by Sara Hanson, Ed.D., associate dean of student affairs. These students achieved a cumulative 4.0 GPA in an associate degree program and completed at least half of their requirements at Middlesex.

Ken Innocenzi, Middlesex Community College Foundation board chair, presented the Pritchett-Taylor Scholarship awards to Mosher and Varrichio. These scholarships are given to the graduates with the highest cumulative quality point average who have attended at least two semesters full-time and earned at least 30 credits at Middlesex.

Dean Bontatibus led the presentation of candidates, who each walked to the stage to receive their diplomas and individual congratulations. Chancellor Cheng officially conferred their degrees and certificates to a final round of applause.

Commencemebt 2024CT State Middlesex is among 12 community colleges in Connecticut that on July 1, 2023, to become CT State Community College, one of the largest community colleges in the country and largest in New England, dedicated to quality, access and affordability. CT State students can apply once and take classes at any campus. In addition to Middlesex (Middletown & Meriden), locations include Asnuntuck (Enfield), Capital (Hartford), Gateway (New Haven & North Haven), Housatonic (Bridgeport), Manchester, Naugatuck Valley (Danbury & Waterbury), Northwestern Connecticut (Winsted), Norwalk, Quinebaug Valley (Danielson & Willimantic), Three Rivers (Norwich), and Tunxis (Farmington).