Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.
WORCESTER - Gladys Rodriguez, district representative for U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, told graduates at Quinsigamond Community College's commencement yesterday that she once sat where they were, and said she hoped one day they would be standing where she stood.
Ms. Rodriguez related snippets of her personal story, from her arrival in the United States from Puerto Rico as a child who couldn't speak English to having a front seat at historic local, national and even international events as a member of Mr. McGovern's staff. Her path from her first job, which was coincidentally at QCC, to where she is now was filled with as much struggle and hardship as that of many in the audience, she said.
She said she graduated from high school with a baby, and took nine years to graduate from college, because like some of yesterday's graduates, she had to postpone a semester here and there when she had to deal with a child's illness or couldn't get reliable transportation or day care.
Still, graduating remained a goal, and education remained a passion, she said.
"Once I made it into the classroom, I felt I could conquer the world," she said.
Once the graduates get their degrees, nobody can take that away, she said.
Resilience and perseverance got the graduates to this point, she said. "You worked, you borrowed, you bummed a ride, you took care of children," she said.
QCC President Gail Carberry told the graduates that 35 years ago, she too was a community college graduate. She said they have taken steps to make their visions into reality.
"Once upon a time each of you had a thought," she said, "the idea of what would happen if you enrolled in college."
State Rep. Peter J. Durant, R-Spencer, congratulated the graduates, and noted the diversity of the student body and the fields they had studied. He joked that for students who didn't get all A's and B's, "there's always politics."
Representing QCC alumni, Sharon Doherty urged graduates to give back, with both time and money. She urged the graduates to take advantage of the social, recreational and networking opportunities the alumni association offers. And giving back to the college is more important than ever in an age of skyrocketing higher education costs, she said.
"Help keep Quinsigamond Community College the best place to get a degree without breaking the bank," she said.
Area graduates of Quinsigamond Community College are:
Associate in Applied Science
Ashburnham: Brian Chapman
Douglas: Travis McLaughlin
Dudley: Anthony Scopa
Fitchburg: Jason Sundstrom
Holden: Sean Keenan
Leominster: William Parker
Millbury: James Lapierre
Phillipston: Shawn Graham
Southbridge: Anthony Theodoss
Spencer: Joshua Church
Sturbridge: Daniel Widen
Worcester: Joseph Boulay, Charles Darling, Christopher Mulbah, Chan Nguyen, Andrew Scott, John Semavor
Associate in Arts
Auburn: Corey Bonzey, Daniel Bouley, Michael Capozzo, Daniel Cronin, Bryan Ethier, Patricia Fallon, Brittany Higgins, Ashley Hynes, Michael Morin, MaryLou Russell, Anthony Telemaque
Berlin: John Gonzales
Blackstone: Matthew Deryck
Bolton: Nicole Kovacs, Ruth McLaughlin
Boylston: Verna LaMonda, Glenn Pettit, Caitlin Rajala
Brookfield: Jillian Fisher, Amy Jefferson, Cody Mundell, Kellie Stewart, Roberta Tibbetts
Charlton: Kayla Adams, Joshua Evans, Robert Kingman, Terri Nolette
Clinton: Nora Boisoneau, Eric DeLeo, Sam Gonyea
Douglas: Caitlin Brooks, Bethany Dzivasen, Michelle Fisher
Dudley: James Brink, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Kunkel, Ashley Olson, Mariola Powichrowski
East Brookfield: Debbie Bailey, Caitlin McKeon
Grafton: Rochelle Bechard, Amanda Charest, Nicholas Harasen, Casey Kearin, Stephanie Lettery
Holden: Kimberly Depasse, Nicholas Jeneski, Jacob Koertge, Thomas Prendiville, Cathleen Ramsdell, Wendy Ricciardi, Stepfani Roskey, William Salter, Anisa Sulstarova
Holland: Kimberly Hermanson
Hudson: Susana Cabral, Susan Fernandes, Kristine Hutchinson, Amy Jacquart
Lancaster: Kristy Gonzalez
Leicester: Kristen Arsenault, Karisa Badosa, KayLee Dowd, Sherry Gaspar, Elizabeth Graham, Adah Idoko, Amanda Neale, Erica O'Rourke
Leominster: Zoila Aguirre, Matthew Burns, Henri Colin, Samantha Fenwick
Lunenburg: Larry Colburn
Marlboro: Laura Anderson, David Bacon, Sherry Bresnahan, Natalia Coelho, Tyler Russell
Milford: Paola Gomez
Millbury: Matthew Beaucage, Barbara Borowska, Justin Castro, Gabrielle Davis, Kristin Hamm, Kate Hanlan, James Pavoni, Jonathan Price, Kimberly Rudge, Erica Stevenson
North Brookfield: Jessica Barton, Brian Bonnayer, Alexandra Chisholm, Maria Thomasian, Kristopher Toomey
Northboro: Nicole Bellizzi, Lezlie Bischoff, Esther Brown, Andrew Burke, Ashley Flanigan, Jonathan Moreno, Roberta Powers, Devon Seymour, Blake Stone
Northbridge: Ricardo Arriaga, Jill Aselbekian, Matthew Curtis, Matthew DeVries, Nicholas Hadley, Shelby Morreale, Melanie Plitouke
Oakham: Rachel Metterville
Oxford: Kerrie Catacchio, Charlene Dutting, Emily Fitzpatrick, Ann Flattery, Breanna Gagliardi, Jean Lane, Oscar Magill, Crystalyn McTigue, Nicholas Pastier
Paxton: Sean Donahue, Dorian Morrissey, Melisa Ouimet, Venerika Qirici
Princeton: Nicholas Choquette, Jaclyn Kirk
Rutland: Kelly Slack
Shrewsbury: Marianne Cadena, Derek Chung, Ryan Connor, Emily Deagle, King Duncan, Ashley King, Fatouma Morou Hima, Sasha Prince, Satya Rameshwar
Southbridge: Claryn Heath, Kirsten Larson, Ivelisse McKinstry, Stephanie Smith, John Tautenhan, Christine Veshi, Ashley Wilson
Spencer: Christina Berard, Belinda Burgess, Nicholas Church, Julie Gagnon, Lynnel McGee, Tracy Tabicas
Sterling: Kevin Farr, Leewood Lane
Stow: Kendal Newton
Sturbridge: Tiphani Brewer, Nicholas Crouse, Tyler Gustafson, Lauren Munoz...