June 4, 2020 (Middletown, Conn.) — Middlesex Community College (MxCC) conducted the 53rd annual Commencement ceremony online on Thursday evening, June 4, 2020. WATCH VIDEO.
In total, 364 students earned 406 associate degrees and certificates, with several students receiving multiple diplomas.
Among the Class of 2020 are 18 military veterans, 20 foreign/international students and two incarcerated graduates from Cheshire Correctional Institute who will receive degrees during a later ceremony. The oldest graduate is 66 years old, and the youngest is 15. One graduate began classes at Middlesex in 1987 and attended on and off during the next 33 years before completing the necessary requirements to graduate this year. The class also includes two pairs of siblings (a brother and sister and two sisters) plus a mother and daughter graduated.
Jacob Murphy, who grew up without a standard formal education, said he was understandably nervous when he first considered attending college. Murphy, an engineering science major from Berlin, gave the Class of 2020 student address.
“When I considered my MxCC experience, I’m reminded of what it takes to facilitate student self-actualization. It takes a dedicated team of faculty and staff members and students alike—all working toward the same goal.” said Murphy.
To his classmates, he added, “I have faith you will take the skills you have learned here, in conjunction with the innate competence and willpower to get you to this point, and use them to usher us through these strange times.”
MxCC Chief Executive Officer Steven Minkler, Ed.D., presided over the online recognition ceremony.
“Tonight we gather as one. We are a united community that believes in this college, believes in our mission to put students in the center of everything we do, and believes in each and every member of the Class of 2020,” said CEO Minkler in his remarks.
He reminded the audience about the spring semester’s “shadow of events that cannot be ignored,” from the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the campus in mid-March to the tragedy in Minnesota that brought the nation’s systemic racism to the forefront.
Among the college’s many other initiatives, Minkler announced the formation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council to address racial disparities in enrollment patterns, student success metrics and graduation rates. The council will also look for strategies to address cultural competence in employees and improve efforts to diversify faculty and staff on campus.
“To the Class of 2020, I charge you to use all you have learned during your time at Middlesex to speak for those who have no voice, to fight for those who are too broken and exhausted to fight for themselves, to stand with those who protest injustice, inequality and inequity, and to exercise your right to free speech and your power to vote. Use your talents to make our communities better places for all,” Minkler said.
Mark Ojakian, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities president, reminded the graduates that they adapted quickly to a completely new way of learning and put in the hard work necessary to complete their degrees.
Gov. Ned Lamont also offered his congratulations from Hartford, saying this is a graduation “you will never forget.”
Middlesex Dean of Academic and Students Affairs Sharale Mathis introduced the class valedictorian, Abigail Brooke Ingalls, a veterinary technology major from Ledyard. Ingalls has worked at a veterinary clinic in Mystic and taught piano while in school. Her volunteer work includes building cat shelters and feeding stations.
Ingalls, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, was selected to be on the All-Connecticut Academic Team and is Connecticut’s only recipient of the New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship.
Jennifer Reilly of Old Saybrook, also a veterinary technology major, and Ingalls earned the Award for Academic Excellence. This award is given to graduating students who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 4.00 in an associate degree program and who have completed 50% of their requirements at Middlesex.
Graduates Ingalls and Reilly also received the Pritchett-Taylor Award presented to them by Dean of Administration Kimberly Hogan. These scholarships are awarded to the graduates with the highest cumulative GPA who have earned at least 30 credits at MxCC, and who have attended full-time for at least two semesters.
Several students in the college’s distinguished honors program received degrees and plan to transfer to four-year institutions. They are Joshua Budney of Meriden (University of Hartford), Aillis Frost of East Hampton (University of Connecticut), Jake Hesseltine of Durham (Central Connecticut State University), Ayal Rosen (Wallingford) and Jessenia Sterling of Southington (University of Saint Joseph). John Guillamon of Deep River, president of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter at MxCC, earned the Etherington Scholarship from Wesleyan University.
CEO Minkler conferred associate degrees and certificates to students in 52 different areas of study, including the first graduates from new degree programs in chemistry studies, physics studies and manufacturing engineering technology. For the first time, graduates earned certificates in audio and music and digital marketing, and in the magnetic resonance imaging post-primary certification in diagnostic imaging program.
As faculty members, academic program coordinators announced the names of every graduate. An audience of nearly 500 devices watched the event live.
The college hopes to conduct an in-person commencement at a later date.
Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 70 degree or certificate programs at the main 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.