Jenkins-Scott Serves as Commencement Speaker for Cape Cod Community College
May 25, 2006President Schatzberg, Board of Trustees, members of the faculty, distinguished guests: To the staff members and all who helped in preparing this special day and ceremony, thank you very much! It is indeed a distinct honor and pleasure to be with you this evening.
To the class of 2006: Congratulations! Although time does not permit me to acknowledge each of the 532 graduates individually, please accept my deepest congratulations to the 237 men and women receiving Associates in Arts Degrees, the 192 men and women receiving Associate in Science Degree; and the 103 men and women receiving Academic Certificates: I congratulate all of you for your accomplishment.
To the parents, families and friends of the graduates, I share your pride and happiness on this very special day. Celebrations are a very importation part of our American traditions – they give us a great excuse to have a party! But more seriously, celebrations provide inspiration, reaffirmation, and encouragement that goals can be set and can be achieved.
Each of our graduates are here tonight having achieved a very significant accomplishment. You set a goal, you worked hard and you achieved your goal. Many, many students cannot make the same claim. Each of you can probably think of several people who started out here at Cape Cod Community College with you and are not with you today. You overcame work issues, family challenges, financial and many other challenges – your perseverance has paid off – my most sincere congratulations to each of you.
Some of you may be wondering why, President Schatzberg, would ask me – another College President to serve as Commencement Speaker. Let me offer three reasons why I think I’m here.
First: President Schatzbert and I, have a deep and abiding respect for the contribution that community colleges are making in advancing the ideals and values of this nation. Indeed, without community colleges, there would be no path for thousands of American who seek to grow professionally and personally. Community Colleges are helping millions of Americans achieve the “American Dream.” Did you know that nearly 50% of all Americans in higher education are matriculating at Community Colleges. There are over 11.6 million students enrolled in Community Colleges with nearly 4000 here at Cape Cod Community College. Many of you will go directly into the workforce as nurses, computer technicians, dental hygienists, early childhood educators, police officers, hotel and restaurant staff; and 19 of you will receive, for the first time, degrees in massage therapy. Congratulations. Others of you will leave CCCC to matriculate in four year institutions. You graduate from tan institution with an excellent track record that prides itself on being innovative, creative, and offering excellent programs. CCCC is critical to our Cape Cod economy and to our Massachusetts future.
Second: Cape Cod Community College and Wheelock College have a long and important history together. Since 1991, Wheelock has offered the Master of Science in Early Childhood Education at Cape Cod Community College. With the support of the Cape Cod Center for Graduate Education, Wheelock has graduated more than 100 individuals who live and work on Cape Cod. In addition, our undergraduate program in Early Childhood Education is coming to Hyannis in the fall of this year. This partnership to enhance the field of early childhood education is a new and exiting part of our connection to CCCC. We hope that many of you will decide to attend Wheelock at our Boston campus or right here on the Cape.
Third and Finally: On a personal note, I am a living example of the “American Dream” that I referred to a moment ago. I know first hand that America – with all its warts, problems, and issues is still a place where dreams can come true. I stand here this evening as a witness. The great granddaughter of slaves, the granddaughter of rural farmers, and a first generation college graduate. I stand here just four generations from slavery. I am a college president – not one who rose through the ranks of academia but as someone with confidence