Commencement 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Gateway Community College awarded 903 degrees and certificates to the Class of 2015 at the 23rd Commencement at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 21 in Woolsey Hall at Yale University at the corner of College and Elm Streets in New Haven.

As in previous years, liberal arts & sciences and general studies topped the list of most popular majors that prepare students for further study at a four-year college or university. Healthcare professions lead the way for vocational majors with 252 degrees including 134 nurses and 118 allied health professionals. The technologies, computer science and business are also at the top of the list with 175 graduates majoring in technologies and computer science and 105 business majors.

The Class of 2015 was 58% female and 42% male. Hypolito Nunez, age 18 (Computer Assisted Drafting), was the youngest graduate, and Mamie Crawford (Human Services Certificate) was the most senior at 66. Both Nunez and Crawford plan to continue their studies after graduation. Nunez will transfer to a four-year university, yet to be decided, and Crawford will continue at GCC in pursuit of her Associate degree because she “loves helping people,” and believes that she “can make a difference in the world by making friends.”

Khalid M. Abbed, MD was this year’s distinguished Commencement Speaker. Dr. Abbed is the Chief of Spine Surgery, Department of Neurosurgery, and Director of Neurosurgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital Spine Center and Associate Professor, Neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine. He has clinical practices at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut. Dr. Abbed’s work is focused on the continued improvement of techniques and technologies available to surgeons in treating their patients. He has changed the way spine surgery is done at Yale and in the region, by introducing minimally invasive approaches and techniques which he teaches to medical students, residents, fellows, and other surgeons around the world. Dr. Abbed graduated at the top of his medical school class at the University of Illinois and matched at Harvard University’s Neurosurgery residency program at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is an active member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, North American Spine Society, and the Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeons, and has published many papers and chapters in the neurosurgical and spine literature and his research interests include clinical trials, outcomes studies, and developing new technologies and innovations in spine surgery.

An honorary Associate of science degree was conferred upon Mr. William Curran, retired senior partner at Halsey Associates, a premier investment advisory firm. During his 30 years with Halsey and Associates, Mr. Curran helped investors promote private philanthropy by creating charitable foundations. He pursued his graduate studies in finance and management at Marquette University, and worked with an equity team at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company to persuade that conservative company to buy its first common stocks. Mr. Curran later joined Yale University‘s investment office to convince an equally conservative Yale Finance Committee to purchase growth stocks for the Yale endowment. He is a strong supporter of Gateway Community College, where he set up long term endowment assistance for GCC students. 

Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools Garth Harries was the recipient of the President’s Award. Mr. Harries is the architect of the New Haven School Change, a nationally recognized school reform initiative designed to provide all students with an outstanding education that extends beyond graduation and prepares them to be the next generation of leaders, innovators and problem-solvers. New Haven School Change seeks to raise academic achievement and college success by engaging students in their own learning, adults in their professional community and the district in the unique needs of individual schools. The work centers on the district’s core values of collaboration, growth and innovation, and equity.  Since the launch of School Change five years ago, the graduation rate in New Haven has increased 17 percentage points, college enrollment is up, school climate has improved as measured by student, parent and teacher surveys, and schools are building a college-going climate designed to propel students to exciting futures.

The Honorable Toni Harp, mayor of New Haven, the Honorable Michael J. Freda, First Selectman, North Haven, Thomas Griggs, chair of the Gateway Community College Foundation Board, and Ms. Yvette Melendez, Vice Chair of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education were on hand to greet the graduates. Dr. Ezequiel Menendez, Director of Music, Archdiocese of Hartford, played the famous Newberry Organ for the procession, and GCC Humanities Chair and poet, Chester Schnepf and Professor of Electrical/Computer Science, Lee Panagoulias served as Grand Marshalls.

This year’s 903 graduates hailed from Alexandria, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Berlin, Bethany, Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Canterbury, Carteret, Cheshire, Chester, Clinton, Columbus, Colchester, Cromwell, Derby, East Haven, Ellington, Essex, Fairfield, Groton, Guildford, Haddam, Hamden, Higganum, Ivoryton, Jewett City, Killingworth, Madison, Manchester, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New London,  New Milford, Newington, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, Old Lyme, Orange, Oxford, Plainville, Plantsville, Pomfret Center, Portland, Prospect, Quaker Hill, Rocky Hill, Rowlett, Seymour, Shelton, South Meriden, Southbury, Southington, Stamford, Stratford, Stuart, Torrington, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, Waterford, West Hartford, West Haven, Westport, Wethersfield, Windsor, and Woodbridge. White Plains, New York and Newark, New Jersey were also represented.