Marching into the DCU Center to the sound of bagpipes, nearly 1,400 Quinsigamond Community College students came to celebrate their commencement on May 18, 2017.
Students heard from a number of speakers about being leaders and reaching for their dreams.
State Rep. Kate Campanale said the students would leave as a new generation of leaders. “I challenge you to live a life of purpose, meaning and fulfillment,” she said.
She also said the personality and passion of QCC President Dr. Gail Carberry, who created relationships throughout Worcester County, will be missed.
Dr. Carberry, who is retiring this summer, was the featured speaker at this year’s ceremony.
Dr. Carberry said she overcame many hardships to get to this pinnacle in her career. As a community college student 42 years ago, she fell in love with community colleges.
“It was community college faculty who believe in me, who helped me begin to believe in myself,” Dr. Carberry said. She said she had struggled with a learning disability, and wasn’t a strong reader, which caused her to doubt her own intelligence.
During their marriage, she and her husband faced financial struggles and job changes, but she turned to further her education, which ignited a passion that turned into a career.
“Community college classes are pathways of opportunity, they can lead you to a better life,” she said. “I encourage you to take on the role of alumni, join the guardian protectors of Central Massachusetts as Wyverns.”
She held up a small pair of ruby red slippers, which she carried with her to her interviews for the position of QCC president, and has kept in her office since.
“There is no place like home, Worcester is where I grew up and it has been a pleasure to lead the college for 11 years,” she said. “My charge to you is to guard and protect this community.”
“Wyvern’s wings are meant soar, to fly to great heights, fly over the rainbow that follows the storms of life,” she encouraged graduates.
Her speech was followed by an award of President Emeritus from Board of Trustees Chairman Susan Mailman.
Faculty Speaker Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Kristy Glover said 16 years ago she graduated from community college as well.
“For you, this is the beginning of a voyage with endless possibilities, that will lead you anywhere your heart desires, as long as you are willing to work hard, persevere and not let adversity derail you,” she said.
“You have earned your degree, if you can do this you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to,” she said.
Student Speaker Ethan O’Connell, 2016-17 Student Trustee, Vice President of the Student Senate and a member of many clubs and organizations, said for all the students this accomplishment was the culmination of many hours of hard work.
“In preparing for this speech, I realized there is no typical QCC student, we all come from different backgrounds, different places, different eras and different cultures, but we have one thing in common,” he said. “All of us are here today because we took a risk. Whatever your path, I’m willing to bet you took at least one significant risk on your journey.”
“It is important to take risks and go out of your comfort zone when it can lead to personal growth,” Mr. O’Connell said. “My message for you is to be kind, be honest, work hard and continue to take risks.”
Visit the Celebrate 2017 page for more photos and video of the event.
QCC's 2017 Commencement was also featured in a story in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.