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QCC’s Wyvern Graduates Ready to Change the World

May, 2020

While the words may have been sent remotely, the sentiments were the same for over 1,400 graduates of Quinsigamond Community College's Class of 2020. Amid an ongoing pandemic, the College held its first virtual Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 21.

QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja told graduates of the amazing legacy they are leaving for others and of the power that each one of them wields as they enter the next chapter in their lives.

“One day people will look back on this time and wonder how we did it. We know why. We are a community college. We are a community and we know how to beat the odds and emerge successful,” he said. “You have reached the mountain top, but don’t stop here, there are many more mountains to conquer. Be brave, be courageous, and look back on what you’ve accomplished and take strength from it and transform our world into a better place.”

Student Government Association President, Jorgo Gushi, encouraged his fellow graduates to be proud and mindful of this moment in time.

“The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match and each one of you is the fuse. Take pride in how far you’ve come, have faith in how far you can go and don’t forget to enjoy the journey,” Mr. Gushi said.

Commissioner of Higher Education for Massachusetts, Carlos Santiago sent remote greetings to the graduates, acknowledging the unprecedented virtual commencement, yet focusing on their accomplishments and successes, particularly as they navigated remote learning in their last semester. 

“I can guarantee when you look back on this many years from now, this will be the most celebratory experience you will remember,” he said. “We need you to help rebuild our society and our country, not with a vision of returning to the past, but rather creating a new future. One that must be created on mutual respect, valuing all members of our society.”

QCC Psychology Professor Judy Colson told students of the pride both she and her colleagues felt for the Class of 2020 as they overcame barriers, brought on, or exacerbated by the global pandemic.

“Know this, the Class of 2020 will forever be an inspiration for faculty,” she said. “I hope you understand how inspiring you are to others who are just starting their journey in these uncertain times.”

Mr. Gushi’s impassioned speech compared his long flight overseas from his homeland of Albania with his academic and personal journey at QCC.

 “When I started at QCC I made my name ‘George,’ because I was uncomfortable in my own skin, unsure of who I was and wanted to be. My classmates, professors and coworkers built the confidence in me to finally start referring to myself as ‘Jorgo,’ my true self,” he said. “At QCC, our perspectives, our talents, our histories and our voices were accepted fostered and supported. We found our true selves.”

President Pedraja said that despite today’s pandemic-related challenges he sees a bright future in these graduates.

“Our mascot, the wyvern, is a mythical guardian of the community. This has been even more evident these past few weeks with many of our current students and alumni serving our community in its hour of need. Now as graduates, you will go on to be guardians of our community and of our world. Today more than ever our world needs more wyverns. Go and change the world,” he said.

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