conferred diplomas on a record number of students on Saturday as it graduated its 68th class.DThe school handed out a total of 187 bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees as well as 21 associate’s degrees. The number of bachelor’s degrees is the highest given by the college since it first began conferring such degrees in 2000.
Joshua D. Mattei, a cum laude graduate from Madison who gave the student address, earned a bachelor of science degree in interpersonal/organizational communications. Mattei said he was ecstatic when he learned he had been accepted to Mitchell College. He said some of his friends, who were going to larger schools, were unimpressed with his choice; however, Mattei said he enjoyed the sense of support and community at the small school.
“It’s my belief that it’s not where you go to school, but what you seek to get out of it,” he said.
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Mattei said the “law of attraction” has been important in his life, and said students should keep a positive attitude and envision success.
“Simply believe in yourself, and your goals can take you a long way,” he said.
Mitchell College President Mary Ellen Jukoski said she hoped the students’ time at the school has helped them to grow. She encouraged the graduates to continue to learn and to not be afraid to take risks.
“As you leave Mitchell College, realize that life is a series of achievements and setbacks,” said Jukoski. “But don’t let that deter you.”
The keynote speaker was Gweondolyn J. Dungy, executive director emerita of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Dungy said the class has grown up during a tumultuous time, citing tragedies such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Virginia Tech shooting as well as economic difficulties such as the global recession that began as most of the graduating class started attending college.
“As we think about all that has occurred to change the environment in which you live, we might conclude that this graduating class has some incredible coping skills,” said Dungy.
Dungy also said the small size of the college has established a tight-knit community on campus. She said she visited the campus earlier this year and spoke with several students, all of whom said the college met their expectations.
“There were many reasons for this, but if I had to choose the one word that students used most often to describe why they would give this college high marks, that word would be ‘supportive,’” said Dungy. “They told me that regardless of their unique needs, students felt that the college—through its phenomenal faculty and staff—always, always found a way to meet those needs.”
Christopher Herbette, an environmental studies major from West Simsbury, was the class valedictorian for those with bachelor’s degrees while Anxhela Kodra, an environmental studies major from Waterford, was valdectorian of the associate’s degree graduates.
Richard Cheatam, a business administration—graphic design/marketing major from New London, was salutatorian of the bachelor’s degree graduates while Erik Fiedler, a graphic design graduate from Norwich, was salutatorian of the associate’s degree graduates.