Manchester, Conn. (May 25, 2017) — 840 degrees and certificates were awarded to 800 individual graduates at Manchester Community College’s 53rd annual commencement ceremony held this evening, Thursday, May 25. Graduates from 93 towns across Connecticut and eight other states were awarded associate in science degrees, associate in art degrees and certificates. The youngest Class of 2017 graduate is 18 years old and the oldest is 75. 128 graduated cum laude, 68 magna cum laude, and 37 were summa cum laude. The graduating class includes 37 military veterans.
The Class of 2017 valedictorian was Blenda Frances Church, of Tolland, who began her studies at MCC in Fall 2014 and was admitted to the Radiation Therapy program in 2015. A graduate of Tolland High School, Church has secured employment at Hartford Hospital following her clinical work there, and her goal now is to become the ‘go-to’ person in the hospital radiation department.
Salutatorian Anthony Joseph Rosati, of Vernon, started at MCC in Fall 2013 as a Business Administration major. He is a graduate of Palmer High School and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human resources management. He is a member of MCC’s local Alpha chapter of the international business honor society, Alpha Beta Gamma®.
Church and Rosati also were among five recipients of the Board of Regents Medallions for Academic Excellence. The other three MCC recipients were Kirsten Delzell, of Colchester; Molly Gosselin, of East Hartford; and Raymond Russell, of Norwalk. The medallions are awarded at each of the community colleges to graduating students who have earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Joelle Murchison, associate vice president and chief diversity officer at the University of Connecticut, delivered the Commencement Address to the graduates. A resident of East Hartford, Murchison serves as UConn’s main strategist responsible for guiding efforts to define, assess and promote diversity, inclusion and educational and employment opportunity.
“To learn the stories of your classmates that either confirm or change your whole concept of what this world is, is also what this experience was all about,” Murchison told graduates. “You’ve spent at least two years in and around this environment – with classmates of all ages, races, ethnicities, gender, religion, sexual orientation, shape, size. …You’ve been in any number of classes with students who are both like and different from you. “
She continued, “Because we all as humans have similarity bias – meaning we like to be with people that are like us, it takes some energy – and intentional work – for us to reach out and build those important, strategic and long lasting connections which will lead to success for you as you begin anew – and take this world by storm.”
Barry Kelly, a resident of Amston, Conn., and president and CEO of Kelser Corporation, received an associate degree in humane letters honoris causa. For more than 35 years, Kelly’s Glastonbury-based technology consulting company, Kelser Corporation, has helped businesses in the region achieve their goals through technology. Kelly was a founding member of Kelser in 1981, and in 2010 he became president and CEO. In 2011, he founded the Kelser Foundation, which to date has contributed nearly $1 million in funds in addition to food, clothing, time and other goods to worthy causes.
Other awards that were presented during the ceremony include the Regional Advisory Council Award, which was presented to Margery Booker, of Stafford Springs. She is a recipient of the CT All-State Academic Team Award, the Phi Theta Kappa Most Distinguished Officer Award, and the Florence Sheils Award. She has served as president of the MCC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. At this year’s New England Regional Spring Convention, Phi Theta Kappa earned the Distinguished Chapter Officer Team Award for 2016-2017, the highest honor awarded to chapters on the regional level. Booker entered MCC through the college’s Adults in Transition program in Spring 2013 in an attempt to get her life and dreams back on track.
The President’s Student Award was presented to Stephanie Delgado, of East Hartford. Serving as the president of the Criminal Justice Club and being someone that her classmates and peers can turn to for advice, Delgado is surely leaving her mark on MCC’s campus. But, unbeknownst to many, she has been fighting a personal battle behind the scenes, having had more than nine brain surgeries over the past ten years, while continuing to pursue her academic endeavors. While battling her physical ailments, Delgado has continued to be there for her children, balance a household, provide an income and continue her studies. Returning to MCC in Spring 2014, she has worked tirelessly towards earning her associate degree in criminal justice.