Massachusetts State Senator Robyn Kennedy addressed Quinsigamond Community College’s 1,244 graduates on May 19 as the keynote speaker of the college’s 59th commencement ceremony.

Kennedy, who was born and raised in Worcester, highlighted how QCC graduates have contributed to local communities in numerous ways, despite the obstacles many often face during their higher education journey, such as working multiple jobs or raising a family. She noted that these contributions have been especially vital over the last few years as many students are and will become frontline and essential workers.

“Graduates, you are the best of Worcester. You crossed rivers, mountains, oceans and 290 for the promise of this day. What defines your character is the notion that good enough is simply not good enough,” said Kennedy. 

As a former employee of the YWCA, Kennedy acknowledged how important collaboration is and how graduates will face newer societal challenges, but have an even greater opportunity to make a positive impact.

“Only by supporting each other can we survive and can we thrive. You are truly our leaders and the leaders our community needs because you have consistently shown up. Remember…we can always find solutions to the hard problems and you are now among the best equipped to find those solutions. You are what our world needs now. I’m calling on you to forever be better than good enough.”

QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja commended the graduates for their resilience and growth as they persevered throughout their time at the college, no matter their situation. He also noted that after matriculating, graduates can continue to rely on QCC’s robust alumni network that offers support, community and guidance.

“Community college graduations hold a special significance, for they represent the triumph of perseverance over adversity,” Pedraja said. “As you cross this stage today, you carry with you the hopes and dreams of your families and your communities, and indeed, of our entire society. You are the embodiment of resilience, the epitome of determination and the promise of a brighter future for us all.”

Student Government Association President Dignamar Figueroa shared her story of returning to school after a decade of working and being a mother to two young daughters. It wasn’t an easy transition, she said, especially after experiencing homelessness at the start of her first semester and not wanting to ask for help. But over time, she learned that it’s ok to be vulnerable and it was crucial to prioritize her mental health.

“No matter where you came from or what you went through, you made it to this moment, your college graduation. You should be so proud of yourself,” said Figueroa. “We all come from various walks of life and backgrounds, but we are not as different as we think. We are all a part of the QCC community.”

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