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FHFA Inspector General Espouses the Power of a Degree at Quinsigamond Community College’s 57th Commencement Ceremony

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at]

Release Date: 


WORCESTER, MA—May 23, 2022— Quinsigamond Community College’s keynote speaker Brian M. Tomney addressed the College’s 1,358 graduates at its 2022 Commencement ceremony, held at the DCU Center in Worcester on May 20, 2022. Mr. Tomney was nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) earlier this year.

Mr. Tomney told the crowd that when he was younger, he wasn’t concerned with getting a college degree, instead becoming an EMT while in high school and a firefighter shortly thereafter. However, when his local community college began offering a paramedicine degree, he decided to make the commitment to higher education and enroll in the associate degree program.

“Many decades later, it is this two-year degree that has been the stepping stone for every non-traditional step that my career has taken. From going into burning buildings and delivering babies, to meeting presidents and sitting in the White House situation room. From this two-year degree, a life of incredible opportunities was born. And to each of you sitting here today, those same opportunities await you,” he said.

There are many emotions that can arise while graduating from a higher education institution and Mr. Tomney touched on many of these during his speech. While joy and happiness are the first emotions to come to mind, he recalled how during his law school graduation he was struck with fear.

“I had been hired by the Department of Justice and was moving to Washington, D.C. with my young son; and for the first time in 36 years moving more than 10 miles from my now aging parents. What if I had made a mistake? But I refuse to let fear and anxiety paralyze me. I try to harness them. So channel all your emotions. Channel the ones that don’t feel so good into meaningful, productive energy. Remember and embrace your emotions today – and always. They are yours and each one of them is valid,” he said.

In addition to his passion for community college, Mr. Tomney also encouraged graduates to explore public service.

“I cannot speak today without briefly reflecting upon and remembering the Worcester Six and the value of – if not the imperative of – finding ways to serve. In a job where all give some, they gave all. Find a path to service, no matter how big or small, and I guarantee you that it will always be the capstone of your well lived life,” he continued.

Community impact is a large part of QCC’s mission.

“Our graduates are truly a representation of the communities they live and work in. They span all ages and ethnicities, are traditional students right out of high school, non-traditional students, veterans, parents, first-generation college students, and immigrants who all have a goal of bettering their lives through higher education. They will now go out into the world and become the positive change makers for our society,” said QCC Chair of the Board of Trustees Alex Zequeira. “As these graduates celebrate with families and friends, let us all be reminded of the transformational power of a postsecondary education. It changes the course of a person’s life, their family’s lives, and delivers a skilled workforce to our communities.”

Student greetings were given virtually by QCC Student Government Association President Shauna Connelly, who championed resilience in the face of difficulties.

“We, the QCC class of 2022, might be the last class of the pandemic. You are here because through some of the darkest times the world has seen, you chose to turn on the light, you chose to make something good happen for you. You need to be an active participant in your own life. Good things happen to those who do! Your future is bright because you chose to surpass all adversity and continue on your journey. Today QCC is going to hand you a torch to help light the way through your future,” Ms. Connelly said.

QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja also commended graduates on their resilience.

“I am amazed by you, by what you have endured to get you here today, and by what you accomplish every single day. You have faced many obstacles, but your determination and resilience, along with the support of friends and family, has brought you here today. I am confident that you will succeed and that you will transform our world. Look back on what you have accomplished and take strength from it. Bring the same grit and determination that got you here to what waits ahead of you. Keep striving to better yourself and to transform our world into a better place. In spite of the challenges of today, I believe the future is bright, because you are in it,” he said.

A total of 1,003 degrees and 494 certificates were conferred upon this year’s graduates.

For more information about QCC, contact Karen Hutner, Interim Director of Institutional Communications at 508.854.2842 or khutner [at]

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Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.