MCC Graduates 664 at 44th Annual Commencement

Manchester, Conn., – (June 2, 2008) . . . More than seven hundred degrees were awarded to over six hundred graduates at Manchester Community College’s 44th annual Commencement Ceremony held on Thursday, May 29. Graduates from 83 towns across Connecticut and four other states, were awarded associate in science degrees, associate in art degrees and certificates. The youngest graduate was 18 years old and the oldest was 79.

Yana Samson, of Coventry, was the 2008 valedictorian earning an associate in science degree in accounting and business administration. In her commencement address, she told her fellow graduates, “Our knowledge and experience gained at Manchester Community College will help us achieve success and overcome challenges that life sets on our way.” Samson, a Russian immigrant, started her academic career at MCC in 2004 and did not know the language that well, and had no idea how the educational system worked. Despite those challenges, she maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was also awarded the Board of Trustees’ Medallion for Academic Excellence.

Kimberly Ann Neild, of Broad Brook, was also awarded the Board of Trustees’ Medallion for Academic Excellence and was this year’s salutatorian. Neild earned an associate in science degree in general studies. The Board of Trustees’ Medallion is awarded at each of the twelve community colleges to graduating students who have earned perfect 4.0s and who have completed at least half of their requirements at the college where the degree is being awarded.

The Honorable Barbara Masekela, former South African Ambassador to the United States, delivered the commencement address. Masekela received her education in South Africa and Zambia, graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts from Ohio University in 1971. She became assistant professor of English Literature at Staten Island Community College from 1971 to 1972 and then taught in the English department at Livingston College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey until 1982.

President Mandela appointed Masekela Ambassador to the Republic of France, as well as Ambassador to UNESCO in 1995. On her return to South Africa in 1999, she joined the corporate world where she held a number of executive and non-executive directorships. She was director of the Standard Bank of South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the World Diamond Council, and the International Marketing Council. She retired in March 2003 as Executive Director of Public and Corporate Affairs for De Beers Consolidated Mines. President Mbeki appointed Masekela Ambassador to the United States in 2003; she served a full ambassadorial term for four years and recently left the position.

Download her commencement address here.

Chad Floyd, partner of Centerbrook Architects and Planners of Essex, Connecticut received the honorary degree of associate in humane letters, honoris causa. A graduate of Yale College and the Yale University School of Architecture, Floyd is one of four partners of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, the firm that was employed to design the college’s Learning Resource Center and the Arts, Sciences and Technology Center and Village.

The Board of Trustees’ Merit Award was presented to Scot Haney, WFSB Channel 3 Meteorologist, for his commitment and service to Manchester Community College. Haney has given his time and talents for over the years to MCC’s major fund-raising event, An Evening of Fine Wines.

The Regional Advisory Council’s Community Service Award was presented to Evan Shaw-Mumford of Manchester for his service to the College and Tracy Poplasky of Lebanon was the recipient of the President’s Student Award. This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated unusual perseverance in spite of difficulties, obstacles or challenges.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

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Download Full Graduate List

News Item Posted On: May 30, 2008
For Additional Information Contact: Endia DeCordova-Murphy at (860) 512-2914