Monday, May 11, 2009

Celebrating Our Graduates

This week we celebrate student success. On Friday, May 15th at 4 p.m. we will collectively rejoice in the accomplishment of Mohawk Valley Community College's most recent success stories - the graduating members of the Class of 2009. They join tens of thousands of thriving MVCC alumni who have come to us seeking personal, supportive learning experiences - received them - and accomplished their goals of graduating from MVCC. Many graduates have overcome obstacles that could have easily sidetracked their dreams, but they persevered.

To help us celebrate the faith and persistence our graduates demonstrate, we have the pleasure of welcoming
Immaculée Ilibagiza
at this year's ceremony. Her story of faith and survival of the Rwandan genocide serves as a powerful reminder that, through faith and persistence, we can all overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

This week we celebrate the community college student at MVCC. Unlike any other place of learning, a community college like ours is a place where 22% of the top 10% of high school scholars, and 30% of all high school graduates in Oneida County find their way to us every fall semester. Ours is a place where those students are joined by others who return from larger four-year schools, to find what they needed at home - a more intimate learning environment that can provide the critical study skills and personal discipline required for academic success. Ours is a place where the single parent finds a way, against all odds, to balance the demands in her life, get to class and earn good grades. Ours is a place where the unemployed or underemployed come to gain new skills and script new, successful chapters in their lives. Ours is a place where the English language learner joins the GED completer to find that they can achieve in college and do it well, to accomplish more than they ever thought possible, starting life anew.

It is this beautiful mosaic that comprises the profile of students at a place like ours. It is a mosaic that comes through our front door every day seeking advice and support from our talented staff to chart a path for a brighter future. It is a mosaic that displays a daily kaleidoscope of learning styles in our classes, bringing out the best our faculty and staff have to offer. Through countless obstacles they navigate unimaginable circumstances and they persevere. Our graduates did not let anything distract from their focus that would have left them wondering what could have happened if they would have finished – instead, they did finish.

The spirit and accomplishment of our graduates reminds me of a poem by Shel Silverstein - Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas:
All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' in the sun,
Talkin' 'bout the things
They woulda coulda shoulda done...
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little Did.