CCRI speaker offers grads ways to measure success

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By JOHN HOWELL
Jorge Elorza had attained personal success — or so he thought.
The son of Guatemalan immigrants and first member of the family to graduate from college was living in Manhattan, had a fancy job on Wall Street and was making lots of money.
On Friday Elorza, who had attended the Community College of Rhode Island before transferring to URI where he graduated summa cum laude, told CCRI's graduating students the death of a friend in Rhode Island so shocked him that it caused him to rethink the course of his life and the importance of family and friends. He returned to the state, has since graduated from Harvard Law School and now works as a staff attorney for Rhode Island Legal Services. He will be a law professor this fall at Roger Williams University.
"I felt that I had turned my back on all the people I cared about in pursuit of my simple and selfish definition of success," Elorza said. "I will never turn my back again on my community and I will never be without my friends and family."
Indeed, friends and family were plentiful at the evening ceremony held at the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln. They filled the fieldhouse bleachers and stood in the hallways and outside the building carrying cameras, bouquets and, in some cases, raincoats and umbrellas.
"We were lucky it held off," said CCRI Director of Public Relations Dennis Moore, referring to the threatening rain.
How the college will deal with future graduation ceremonies may not be as easy to solve as dodging raindrops. With the college opening its fourth campus in Newport this fall, it is not difficult to imagine that in years to come the college's graduating class will number 1,500 to 1,800, too large a group to assemble at any of the college's facilities at a single time.
That dilemma was not the concern of 1,312 students who were awarded associate degrees in arts, fine arts, science applied science and science in technical studies, along with one-year certificates. With this class, 50,000 will have received CCRI degrees since the college's first commencement 40 years ago.
Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, who shared the dais with Gov. Don Carcieri, Mayor Scott Avedisian and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, said the assembly of graduates offered a "glimpse of the future…and all of us here have a very good feeling about Rhode Island."
"The story of this school is the story of Rhode Island," Fogarty added. He also pointed out that many graduates are the first in their families to go on to an institution of higher learning and urged them to be active participants in the community.
CCRI President Thomas Sepe, whose leadership was challenged in February by a faculty vote of no confidence, asked the graduates whom they would remember in the years ahead. He went on to name faculty and some of the actions they had taken beyond the classroom to assist students. Named, too, were advisors and the work they had accomplished as mentors.
While there was no mention of the faculty vote and the finding of the Board of Governors for Higher Education that there is no reason to cut short Sepe's contract, the president's speech appeared directed at rebuilding relations with the faculty and starting the healing process.
"For Sabrina Dunston, she will say that staff member Cathy Bio made college possible for her," Sepe said. "Sabrina had finished a stay at the Women's Correctional facility and was volunteering at a local organization when Cathy met her. Cathy talked to her about college, brought her a CCRI catalog, and told her, "You are college material, Sabrina.' Sabrina, who is sitting here with general studies students, is proving Cathy right."
Dunston's story could have been a page out of Elorza's charge to the graduates.
He offered his new definition of success, suggesting that in place of fame and fortune the graduates earn the respect of the people they respect, surround themselves with good people, enjoy life while they are living it, become a social servant and adopt a "why not me attitude."
"Why not you, why not every single one of you? Someone has to do something extraordinary, something incredible, something truly noble. Why not you? Every person has it in them," Elorza said.
Commissioner of Higher Education Jack Warner, Chairman of the Board of Governors Frank Caprio and the governor, in different ways, urged the graduates not to lose sight of those that have helped them on their academic journey.
"You already know the price of success," Carcieri said, encouraging the graduates to apply the same formula to what else they do in life.
"None of you have made it alone," Caprio said. "You should all be proud of yourself."
Warner, whose preface that his remarks would be brief was greeted by a cheer, reminded the graduates, "You are surrounded by faculty who know their stuff." He told the graduates not to underestimate what they have achieved.
Warwick residents receiving degrees are:
ASSOCIATE IN ARTS — LIBERAL ARTS
Brown, Joyce C. (s)
Bruscini, Veronica E.**
Flam, David
Jussaume, Genevieve D.***
Leclaire, Eliana R.***
Niesen, Rebecca L.(s)
Serabian, Gregory
ASSOCIATE IN ARTS — GENERAL STUDIES
Abelard, Deslourdes
Ahearn, Kristin Lee*
Bessette, Justin J.
Bishop, Diane L.
Boyajian, Tracey L.***
Carrazzo, Melanie A.**
Costa, Susan M.**
Crocker, Diana***
Dalton, Nicola Jane
Dean, Kyle E.
DeLuca, Renee A.
Gengenbach, Nicholas A.
Gordon, Marjorie D.***
Guadagno, Dana Michele
Henderson, David M.
Hermann, Emily J.
Hood, Kristen N.***
Johnson, Matthew E.
Joseph, Marie Y.*
Larkin, Elizabeth B.
Layfield, Stephen J.
Leahy, Katie M.
Meredith, Kelsey L.
Minn, Him
Murray, Paula M.*
Noah, Viviane B.*
Okerholm, Kristy L.
Palmer, Michele C.**
Shalvey, Adam T.
Shoukri, Ahlam*
Smith, Courtney A.
Souza, Brooke A.*
Tift, Stephanie L.
Ward, Tami J.**
Wilson, Breanne L.
ASSOCIATE IN FINE ARTS
Kingma, Nicole A.*
Associate in Science
Patel, Swetta B.
Sklaroff, Noah P.
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY
Rossi, Matthew P.**
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — LAW ENFORCEMENT
Adams, Nicole E
Bierman, Brock P. (s)
Carpenter, Matthew L.
Chearino, Mark S.
Delaroca, Mayra
DiSano, Darcie L.
Gilbert, Sean C.
Groeneveld, Shana S.
Hobbs, Gretchen A.*
Newton, Raymond E.
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — PARALEGAL
Beaudry, Jessica L. (s)
DeWitt, Pamela J.***
Knott, Sharon E.*
ASSOCIATE IN ARTS — HUMAN SERVICES
Bickhart, Laurie A.*
Buono, Sheila M.**
Colabella, Virginia M.**
Creta, Courtney B.
Dufresne, Bonnie-Marie M.
Hogan, Jacqueline*
Locke, Laurie A.**
Palmisano, Stephanie M.
Pelletier, Kimberly A.
Proctor, Melissa S.*
Reddy, Cindy B.***
Slavin, Odina L.
Swiderski, Catherine***
Taylor, Stephanie E.
Tessier, Stacey A.
Yarborough, Rhonda E.*
CERTIFICATE IN COMPUTER PROGRAMMING
Kawan, Sharon E.***
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — COMPUTER STUDIES
Campos, Maria E.
Dutt, Salend***
Espiritu, Edgardo B.
Grzebien, Joseph Z.
Jackson, Letitia A.**
O'Connor, Karen A. *
Tierney, Katherine A.*
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — ENGINEERING
Serabian, Rebecca L.
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — MECHANICAL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
Blue, Susan I.***
Hopkins, Stephen A.*
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — OFFICE ADMINISTRATION
Tracy, Rosemary**
CERTIFICATE IN TRAVEL & TOURISM
Silva, Betsy*
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN BUSINESS
Amore, Ronald
Audette, Danielle R.***
Brisson, Marcus A.**
Chen, Bing***
Correia, Kathleen M.***
Demoranville, Sharon E.*
Drumm, Christine E.
Gibbons, Diane M.
Gill, Julie A.
Grassini, Jenna M.**
Hamel, Teresa A.**
Hogan, Sandra E.***
Jackson, Letitia A.
Laquale, Nicole
Morin, Mona**
Shadravan, Heideh**
Turnbull, James E.
CERTIFICATE IN ACCOUNTING
Drumm, Christine E.
Ead, Lorrie A.**
CERTIFICATE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Mitchell, Wendy M.**
CERTIFICATE IN MARKETING
Sepe, Melanie A.*
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — TECHNICAL STUDIES
Grimshaw, Christopher**
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — CARDIO-RESPIRATORY CARE
Allspach, Cara A.
Lapinski, Kimberly J.**
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — DENTAL HYGIENE
Mehta, Robin M.
Associate in Applied Science — Clinical Laboratory Technology
Conroy, John E.
Leary, Robin A.***
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT
Okoomian, Michele A.*
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT
Archetto, Colleen M.*
Curci, Joseph D.*
Lowney, Joan Ann*
Rocchio, Amy E.
Simoneau, Rebecca L.
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — RADIOGRAPHY
Blanchard, Kelly R.
Filipe, Lynne M.
Hamelin, Kristen M.
Haun, Alyssa R.
Mangione, John P.
McHale, Lenore A.**
Ortiz, Donna J.
Zito, Rebecca D.
ASSOCIATE IN APPLIED SCIENCE — THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE
Rovinski, Lori A.*
CERTIFICATE IN DENTAL ASSISTING
Coons, Lisa E.***
Furlong, Jennifer L.
Rojas, Marie A.
CERTIFICATE IN DIAGNOSTIC MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY
Thomas, Leah M.***
CERTIFICATE IN PHLEBOTOMY
Alba, Lori
Hills, Jennifer A.**
Pinto, Heidi J.**
ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE — NURSING
Caprina, Raymond P.
Detroia, Joanna M.
Dickenson, Ana M.
Drumm, Sherri L.
Fielding, Sandra L.*
Osgood, Jacqueline A.
Perry, Ronda M.
Sweeney, Kimberly A.
Toczko, Debra J.
Vollmer, Maryanne
Wilson, Linda A.
* honors
** high honors
*** highest honors
(s) summer grads

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