Three students delivered messages filled with tales of perservance, optimism and reflection during commencement exercises at Norwalk Community College Thursday. The graduates were among 641 students who receives associate degrees or certificates during the ceremonies at the school's campus on Richards Avenue.
Luis Adzie, Florenica D'Alto and Mary Joe Matera spoke to their fellow graduates, and each offered inspirational tales. Adzie, of Stamford, arrived in the United States from Venezuela in 2005 and started at NCC in 2008. He graduated with an associate's degree in engineering. He worked two full-time jobs to pay his way through NCC. "I remember waiting desperately to finish work at 11 p.m. so I could go study and do homework,'' Adzie said. "I remember spending sleepless nights at Dunkin' Donuts studying for a test. But most importantly, I remember waiting for the next day to come here and see all of you walk the halls, write an essay, or discuss an exam."
D'Alto, also of Stamford, moved with her parents from Uruguay 12 years ago. She earned an associate's degree in business administration. "In my classes, I have sat next to men and women twice my age, single parents, people with disabilities and of course, students like me from all over the world,'' she said. "This adds a variety of perspectives to the subject we are studying; whether it's biology, philosophy or accounting. I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside so many special students, and I can only hope to find the same depth and diversity as I move forward in life."
Matera received an associate's degree in liberal arts and will be transferring to Columbia. She had not been a student for 26 years before beginning classes at NCC. Matera's journey before NCC included marriage, divorce, child-rearing, a bout with alcoholism and certification to trade stocks and bonds. "Life is not about finding oneself, life is about creating oneself,'' Matera said, "and that is done every day at Norwalk Community College.
Lea Mintz, who has provided 50 years of service to NCC, received the Board of Trustees Merit Award. Michael Chen, the President and CEO of Media Communications and Entertainment for GE Capital, received the Distinguished Service Award. Stacy Israel received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. She died last November and served as an adjunct professor for five years.
The ceremonies also included speeches from President David Levinson and Michael Meotti, Connecticut's Commissioner of Higher Education. The class of 2010 also presented the school with six fruit trees to be planted on school grounds.
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