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QCC’s Class of 2021 Celebrated for Its Resiliency

May 2021


On May 21, Quinsigamond Community College conferred 1,441 degrees and certificates to 1,332 graduates as it celebrated its 56th graduating class. QCC hosted its virtual commencement ceremony amidst a backdrop of powerful and motivational speakers who reminded graduates how far they have come, how resilient they are, and the bright future that awaits them.

QCC President Luis G. Pedraja, Ph.D. described the sense of pride he felt witnessing the graduates attain their dreams of a college education, and encouraged them to never stop striving for a better future.

“I never cease to be amazed by our students –your strength, determination, and perseverance. Be proud of your accomplishments. Many of you juggle work and family responsibilities, while continuing to pursue your dream of a college education. You are veterans, single parents, working adults, or the first in your family to go to college. And if all of the challenges you face each day aren’t enough, you completed your degree during a pandemic and some of the most turbulent times we’ve faced as a nation,” he said.  “Each and every one of you is living history, but more importantly, you are making history!”

Commencement Speaker Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings, Ph.D., a nationally recognized social justice advocate and scholar, told the graduates that the obstacles they have faced and overcome would help them throughout their lives.

“You know how to persevere in life. There is a word for this toughness and it's called resilience, and you've got it.  And you should know that you can draw on that resilience for the rest of your life because there are going to be challenges ahead,” Dr. Rockeymoore-Cummings said, addressing the biases that student will face even in academia.

“We know that people hold stereotypes about certain people based on categories. They just assume that they know who the person is and they make those assumptions not based on full knowledge of the person, but based on a stereotype or a category,” she said. “You determine your success and you will be successful in spite of those kinds of people. Why, because Quinsigamond Community College has prepared you.”

Dr. Rockeymoore-Cummings told the graduates that because of their QCC education they are able to achieve anything that they can envision.

“Quinsigamond has given you the tools, resources, and a platform to learn. Whatever comes next, you can be sure that you are prepared. You have what it takes to further your education or go out and earn, so that your knowledge, compassion, and insight can be shared,” she said.

QCC Student Government President and Student Speaker Armela Xhindole told her classmates to keep feeding their minds with knowledge in order to continue to grow and prosper.

“Learning should be a constant operation, and learning is the fundamental prerequisite for progress in any area. After college, education should not stop. Take part in a career that helps to develop your personality and skills,” she said. “Remember, you can achieve everything you want in life with hard work and perseverance. Life is constantly changing, and you must continue to evolve to become a better version of you.”

Carlos E. Santiago, Ph.D., commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education said that after the last year’s unique challenges, these graduates are now considered pioneers in the higher education landscape.

“While you were learning, we were learning from you in ways that will shape the college experience in the future. Teaching and learning will never be the same. We saw black and brown students who were disproportionately affected by COVID-19; many did not return to school last fall because they had to prioritize family income and family health needs first,” he said.

“In an economy like ours we need college educated students to fill the jobs needed to keep the state moving forward. This is why I am grateful to each and every one of you for earning your degrees. No matter what your major is, your skills and talents will help Massachusetts rebuild its economy and move past this pandemic,” Commissioner Santiago continued. “Even though I don't know you personally, I know how resilient you are because I know what it took for you to overcome the challenges of this last year in order to earn your degree.  Now that same set of skills will help you in writing your next chapter.”

President Pedraja told the graduates to draw strength from commencement day whenever they experience hardships in life.

“...know that you can carry on, know that there is nothing you cannot accomplish, and know that in the worst of times you’ve proven yourselves and succeeded,” he said.

“Remember graduates of the Class of 2021, that you are enough, and remember that Quinsigamond Community College produces productive professionals. So, you go out and you get your future. It's ready for you, and you are ready for it,” Dr. Rockeymoore-Cummings said.

To view the entire commencement visit Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony