High-Profile Speakers Inspire Grads
Success. Excellence. Opportunity. These were some of the words that trended throughout Miami Dade College’s five 2014 commencement ceremonies to reflect the accomplishments and bright futures ahead for the College’s nearly 15,000 graduates.
As always, each send-off was a celebration of the highest order, featuring high-level speakers – among them U.S. Vice President Joe Biden – who offered sage perspectives and heartfelt wishes to the Class of 2014. Exciting musical and dance performances added festivity to the ceremonies and had the seas of grads, their families and friends rising from their seats in jubilation.
MDC graduated students from 113 countries this year alone, whose flags were marched across the stage at the beginning of each ceremony to the proud cheers of graduates and their loved ones.
“I don’t know anyone who could fail to be moved by the display of the flags or the pride on display here in this auditorium,” said Vice President Biden at the ceremony for MDC’s Homestead and Inter-American campuses. “The history of the journey of this country in my view has been a constant parade of flags, from Native Americans inhabiting these shores, to flags of early European settlers, and our ancestral memories of African slaves. To this has been added 200 years of that parade that continues to this day of flags of immigrants drawn by the central promise of the United States of America – the promise that, in America, anything is possible. And that America can be seen here today in the sharp relief of this amazing Class of 2014.”
MDC’s graduation rate skyrocketed this year, with gains in all areas (see Page 32). While hundreds of job-ready graduates are jumping into the workforce, others are continuing their studies at top U.S. universities. Many have gained remarkable support to do so, including MDC Honors College grads Jesús Bohórquez, Karen Burgos and Norka Lecca, who all won prestigious national Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarships of up to $30,000 a year for three years to fund their remaining baccalaureate studies. Bohórquez had the added honor of introducing Vice President Biden.
One student from each MDC campus was also selected to receive a Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees Scholarship of $5,000. The winners were Andy Alfonso, Naphtalie Armand, Yaite Laura Batista, Amanda Brown, Lázaro Chávez, Halina Rachelson and Jeffrey Romeu.
Commencement Speaker Words of Wisdom:
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
Vice President of the United Sates
Homestead and InterAmerican campuses
“Many of you are children of immigrants, and many of you are the grandchildren of immigrants. More than half of you speak a language other than English at home. But all of you speak the language of America — the language of courage, determination and success. And you made the right decision because you’re graduating into an era of immense change and possibilities for this country.”
Dr. Richard Brodhead
President, Duke University
“If you want to see democracy in action, people of every origin lifting themselves by their own hard work, you really could not do better than to come to a graduation at Miami Dade College. … What we celebrate as you complete your degrees isn’t just the existence of Miami Dade College; it’s that when the possibility of college was afforded to you, you seized the opportunity and saw it through.”
Dr. Ángel Cabrera
President, George Mason University
Homestead and InterAmerican campuses
“You should be very proud of your alma mater. I often think we have our scales wrong. We shouldn’t measure how great a university is by how exclusive it is, by how much it spends to educate one student or by how well educated students already are by the time they get admitted. We should measure a great university by how many lives it manages to change for the better with the resources it has, by how much opportunity it creates and how well prepared their graduates are regardless of their beginnings. By that measure, Miami Dade College could well be one of the greatest colleges in America.”
James B. Milliken
Chancellor, City University of New York
Hialeah and Wolfson campuses
“The opportunity to attend Miami Dade College may have changed everything for you. And now, you will change things for the better in your community, your state, your country. It is incumbent on all of us to do our part to support this great formula for success that is exemplified by Miami Dade College and other public institutions of higher education. I hope when you leave MDC after today, you will become our standard bearers. Go out and show the world all you can do! Because you are success stories from one of our nation’s great institutions.”
Dr. John Sexton
President, New York University
North Campus and MDC-West
“Use what you’ve learned here to create a better world, even as you pursue for yourselves and your families the success you deserve. Use what you’ve learned here and from your loved ones who have sacrificed before you … to build a better sense of community, to revivify the notion of sacrificing forward, to embrace the complexity and cacophony of the world and build … a community of communities. Bring forward your wonderful training and your wonderful minds into genuine civil discourse to advance the experiment of humankind. You have the ability to do it.”
President, Ford Foundation
“This is a moment you will remember and cherish forever. Earning a degree from Miami Dade College is indeed a great achievement. But do not let it be your greatest achievement. There is suffering in the world to be eased, and illness to be cured, and injustice to be fought against. We need your hands and your heart, because there are rough places to be made smooth and families to be cared for.”