More than 1,000 Graduated in GCC Class of 2016, May 26

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gateway Community College’s Class of 2016 celebrated the college’s 24th Commencement Ceremony on May 26 at Yale’s Woolsey Hall.

This year’s graduating class reached another milestone as the largest ever with 1,071 students who completed their degree and/or certification programs. The majority were General Studies and Liberal Arts majors, most of whom intend to transfer to a four-year university. Also among the graduates were 93 nursing majors and another 180 graduates with healthcare-related degrees and certificates. One hundred and forty graduates majored in one of several technology programs, 34 earned degrees in transportation technology (automotive or railroad engineering). Other popular majors included Business, Social Sciences and Early Childhood Education.

The Class of 2016 was privileged to have Frances Padilla, president of the Universal Healthcare Foundation, as their keynote speaker. Padilla has been a strong, unwavering advocate for families and communities in Connecticut. She is a highly respected advocate for children, families and low-and moderate-income people in Connecticut, and for more than three decades, has been on the frontline of some of the state’s most important achievements in philanthropy and health public policy. Padilla was recently re-appointed by the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives to the Governor’s Health Care Cabinet to help formulate a state strategy for alleviating the spending burden on Connecticut families, businesses and government created by the high cost of health care in the state.

Jeffrey A. Klaus, regional president for Webster Bank, received the Gateway Community College President’s Award. Klaus, who is a 25-year veteran of the Connecticut banking industry, also served as Market President at Bank of America and Fleet Bank and worked in commercial banking roles throughout Connecticut and in New York City. In addition to his commercial banking background, Klaus has been a long-time community advocate and has served on numerous business and not-for-profit agency boards, including the GCC President’s Advisory Board and Foundation Board, with a particular focus on improving urban public education.

An honorary Associate's degree was conferred upon Daniel N. Caron. Caron proudly serves on the board of Gateway Community College Foundation and sits on their laboratory technician program planning committee. He is a longtime advocate of corporate citizenship, and has 30 years in leadership roles in the biotech and not-for-profit sectors. Caron recently completed a 24-year tenure at Alexion Pharmaceuticals where he oversaw management of facilities at more than 30 global Alexion sites. He serves on the career advancement committee of the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission and is a member of the agricultural sciences advisory committee for Connecticut’s Region 14 school district, and is a strong supporter of social entrepreneurship. Caron is a founder and director of Health Educated, a Benefit Corporation that focuses on health disparities in Connecticut’s underserved urban communities.

Among the graduates of the Class of 2016 were several amazing students who overcame delays and challenges to realize their dreams. Susan Howarth's return to higher education after a 30-year hiatus was a chance for new opportunities and a new life. This May, she graduated as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a work-study student in the Office of Student Success and Counseling, and the vice president of the Nutrition Club. Forty-eight year old police officer Sergeant Sandra Brooks, who won Best All-Around Student honors, came to GCC to complete her degree through the statewide Go Back to Get Ahead initiative. Brooks is the first person in her family to receive a college degree and is graduating with honors after a 27 year hiatus from higher education.

Gateway Community College’s 24th Commencement began at 6:00 p.m. in Yale’s Woolsey Hall at 500 College Street, New Haven. The Gateway Community College Seal made its public debut at the ceremony; it will appear on a new mace and academic medal.

Congratulations to all the graduates!