SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A major feeling of accomplishment spread among a thousand people in the greater Holyoke area Saturday morning at the 70th Holyoke Community College Commencement Ceremony at the MassMutual Center.
“I got into Suffolk in Boston actually,” said Stephen Mucci of Longmeadow, recalling his academic journey. He’s now hopeful to begin a successful career with a degree in Network Security, but the degree isn’t from Suffolk – it’s from Holyoke Community College. He said a four-year private college was far too expensive: “I just didn’t want to put my parents through that, so I went to a community college. I originally went to STCC [Springfield Technical Community College] and had some trouble there and ended up at HCC and it’s been good.”
Good, because he and other graduates said they were surrounded by a true community of people knowledgeable of the greater Holyoke area and willing to give back to those in it.
“I feel like a community college, they’re more there to help you out through the transition rather than a four-year college,” said Diandre Velez of Springfield who earned a degree in Liberal Arts.
The seats were filled with family and friends, cheering on their loved ones receiving Associate’s degrees and certificates from diverse fields including nursing, communications, engineering, education and criminal justice.
HCC Professor of English as a Second Language Vivian Leskes addressed students as the winner of the 2017 Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence. She got a large applause when she asked which graduates had to start over or change a course of study during their time at HCC. She said what was important was the determination and their journey in making it to this day.
Graduates and honorees came from a variety of backgrounds and overcame unique obstacles. Some were parents; one was even absent because he was expecting his first grandchild. But, all were united in their goal of becoming more educated and making their friends and family proud.
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