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CCRI celebrates 47th commencement
May 18, 2012
The Community College of Rhode Island conferred 1,659 associate degrees and certificates at its 47th commencement today in the Vincent A. Cullen Field House at the Knight Campus in Warwick.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline and Gov. Lincoln Chafee attended to give congratulations to the Class of 2012. CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale welcomed this year’s class to the ranks of the more than 58,000 CCRI alumni.
“CCRI graduates are everywhere! You are a part of the college’s 48 years of rich history,” he told the graduates. “The community college has always played a vital role in the state of Rhode Island, but the recent economic challenges our state has experienced have highlighted the importance of this institution. The power of the community college is great, as you all have seen in your time here. We know that you will go out into the world and touch the lives of your fellow Rhode Islanders the way that so many CCRI alumni have before you.”
Di Pasquale also provided a snapshot of this year’s graduating class during his commencement address by highlighting several stories of outstanding students.
Representing her class as student commencement speaker was Lauren Macbeth, 23, of Warren who is a General Business major and graduated with a 3.97 GPA.
She was president of the Pi Omicron chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and, as the New Century Scholar from Rhode Island, she recently spoke to some 2,000 college presidents and senior-level administrators at the American Association of Community Colleges’ annual conference. She also is a member of the Kappa Beta Delta honor society and was a cellist in the Rhode Island Philharmonic Community Orchestra for three years.
Macbeth’s journey to commencement was not without its challenges. At age 18, she left home and began working. Her friends encouraged her to consider attending college. Faced with paying for college entirely out of pocket, Lauren took a single course at CCRI in the spring 2009 semester. She had been homeschooled, and this was the first time she was ever in a typical classroom setting. She told me that, at first, she wasn’t sure if she was capable of classroom work, but she soon discovered the education her parents provided had prepared her well for the rigors of college work.
Lauren also completed her degree while working full time as program director of the Feinstein Institute for Legal Services at Roger Williams University School of Law. She will continue her education at Roger Williams this fall, where she will study sociology with the goal of one day running a nonprofit organization.
“Today we all stand together as one community – a community of support and strength, a community composed of each other,” Macbeth said. “Take a moment and think about your own life. Did you face times when getting to this moment seemed impossible? I did. We’re here today because of our own hard work and perseverance, certainly. But, more importantly, we’re here because of each other.”
She told her classmates, “Ghandi said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Let’s keep that in mind as we leave here today and move through our own communities. Let’s take the experiences we’ve gained, the knowledge we’ve acquired and the relationships we’ve built – and let’s go change the world.”
On Thursday night, Alumni Association President Josh Klemp presented superlative-type awards to those graduates who attended commencement rehearsal:
- Alicibel Perez of Pawtucket, who received her associate degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Development, won the award for the most years of study at CCRI, where she has been a student for 10 years.
- Bruce Weller, 65, an Opticianry graduate from North Kingstown, was the oldest graduate in attendance.
- Three graduates – Krystiana Medeiros of Pawtucket; Kevin Gilbride of East Providence; and David Rothermel of Warwick – all were recognized because both parents are CCRI alumni. All three graduates are General Studies majors.
- Seven graduates tied for having the most children – five each.