Graduation for the NVCC Class of 2020 was celebrated through a virtual commencement ceremony with a video that premiered on YouTube and Facebook Live Tuesday, July 14, 2020. More than 300 students, families, faculty and staff watched the premiere. The enthusiastic audience posted comments reflecting love, pride, gratitude and sheer joy for their grads. Thousands of viewers have already watched the virtual commencement. If you have not seen it, you may watch it here.
NVCC President, Daisy Cocco De Filippis opened the virtual commencement with celebratory remarks. “It is so wonderful to be with you this afternoon, in this beautiful place, our community room in Founders Hall, an ideal place to embrace the joy of my favorite afternoon of the year: our 2020 commencement…our first-ever, virtual commencement.”
President De Filippis continued. “Let me tell you a little bit about the class of 2020. This year’s graduates hail from 87 municipalities across Connecticut and five states. The youngest graduate is 16 years old, and seven graduates are 17 years old. Nineteen graduates are 18 years old, three of them have earned associate degrees.
This year’s oldest graduate is 76 years of age and is receiving an associate degree in general studies, which is the largest field of study; 155 associate degrees are being awarded in general studies this year.
We have 100 students graduating from our CSCU (Connecticut State Colleges and Universities) associate degree transfer program.
Speaking of our youngest graduates, this year we are pleased to have 7 Danbury High School students join us as NVCC graduates. These Danbury Early College Opportunity (DECO) students have earned two NVCC degrees and eight certificates among them. Six of them will graduate from high school next month and one of them will graduate high school next year.
For the ninth year in a row we have recorded more than 1,000 degree and certificate awards. This year’s commencement celebrates a projected 1,023 awards in majors that students want, and employers need.
We continue to navigate ‘true north’ toward our mission and our primary goal of ensuring student success. I could tell you so much more about our achievements together, but I’ll conclude by saying with joy and celebration: I am so very proud and honored to have served as your President. Congratulations to the class of 2020.”
Dean of Community Engagement, Waldemar Kostrzewa, moderated the virtual production with a welcome to the 55th commencement, “though conducted for the first time virtually, this ceremony invites family, friends, and community to celebrate the academic and service achievements of our 2020 graduates.”
Dean Kostrzewa ended with a tribute to President De Filippis at her last commencement before retiring from NVCC to become President of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of the City University of New York. “Thank you, President De Filippis. Since your arrival 12 years ago in 2008, you have placed students at the center of the college’s mission, vision, and values. Your unfailing passion in support of their personal and professional goals has been consistent and recognized. Evening bus service, sidewalks for safety, Waterbury campus renovations, a new campus in Danbury, the Founders Hall Center for Health Sciences, scholarships, quality academic programs, and compassionate student services are only a few of your achievements.
Our 22-town service region has benefited from your commitment to ensure that ‘community’ remains central in the name of Naugatuck Valley Community College. Pre-collegiate partnerships with high schools, workforce development programs with area employers, and civic engagement through the center for racial dialogue and communal transformation have proven that this community college lives up to its name.
And, the poetry—whether recited at the popular Confluencia gatherings or at virtually every college event,
or found in all major publications—reminded us not only of your literary expertise, but also of the sometimes- delicate balance between the arts and technology. That balance resulted in our recent innovative and creative addresses to the ongoing challenges of adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though I am speaking these words, they echo the voices of today’s 1,000-plus graduates…those additional thousands of completers since 2008…those community groups you have helped…those employers you have served…and those who will benefit from your legacy of caring.
Madame President, in recognition of your retirement from here, we honor and thank you for your valued contributions and wish you well in your transition to another community college. To you we say mil gracias y bendiciones”
The 2020 Commencement Speaker, Professor Steven Parlato challenged and congratulated the graduates. “NVCC Class of 2020, I charge you to strive beyond the trivial, for, in ways great and small, you have already proven yourselves exceptional. May today’s accomplishment be just the foundation for a lifetime of successes, a lifetime of contributions, of beauty, of selflessness, of true significance. Congratulations and thank you!”
Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Jennifer Jones took to the podium to share her experience of NVCC and congratulates fellow graduates. “When I began my journey at NVCC, I didn't know what to expect. The only thing I knew was that I was going to do whatever it took to graduate. Like many of you, I had no idea that we would face a dangerous pandemic that would rearrange our lives. COVID-19 did not just affect our education, but our personal and professional lives as well. I know for many of us, staff included, leaving the classroom altogether and switching to online learning was a challenge. So, when I read the NVCC newsletter and found that ‘all classes were kept open with no cancellations,’ it just confirmed to me how committed the NVCC faculty are to our education. What really touched me when reading the newsletter was that ‘more than 1,000 associates degrees and certificates will be awarded.’ Despite facing trying times filled with many uncertainties, one thing is for certain: you all persevered through these challenging times. Although I don't personally know you all, nonetheless I am proud of each and every one of you.”
The virtual commencement video also featured a slide show of the graduates in a photo with their names, degree and/or certificate. Other celebratory components of the 2020 commencement were mailed to the graduates including graduation cap and tassel.
The traditional Honors Night Program which celebrates all scholarship recipients will be mailed at beginning of August to the students who appear in the program; it will include a letter of congratulations from College President Daisy Cocco De Filippis.
Diplomas with covers and the formal commencement program will be mailed to all graduating students near the end of the summer; this mailing also will include a letter of congratulations from President De Filippis.
Commenting on the production of the virtual commencement as a way to recognize the achievements of NVCC students, Dean of Student Services, Sarah Gager noted, “We are so very proud of the academic accomplishments that each of you have earned during your time at NVCC. You have persevered through challenges the world has never experienced on such a broad level. We wish you only the best as you venture forward on your new pathways. Thank you for being part of our student body and welcome to our alumni family. Wishing you all peace, good health and prosperity.”
Dean of Academic Affairs, Lisa Dresdner, Ph.D., commended NVCC's graduating class of 2020 for their persistence and patience in navigating these past several months in their commitment to achieving their goals. She stated, "These students demonstrate resilience and fortitude in facing many challenges, and I am confident that the next step on their journey will be one that shows the world how very special they are!"
Karen Blake, Director of Student Activities, who coordinates the traditional commencement festivities on campus, commented on the virtual ceremony. “Even though this year’s commencement ceremony looks different and we cannot celebrate you in person, please know we are all proud of your accomplishments during your time at NVCC. Always remember, your degree is the key to your success, and you have accomplished this milestone in your life. Celebrate this virtual graduation with your family and safe during these difficult times. Congratulations!”