‘Hope even in our darkest times’: HCC celebrates 2020 graduates

  • Amaraya Deza, a Holyoke Community College class of 2020 graduate and Holyoke resident, sports her graduation cap outside of the HCC Campus Center. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/HCC

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among the state and local officials to congratulate the Holyoke Community College class of 2020 at a virtual celebration on Thursday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/HCC

Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2020 4:19:47 PM
Modified: 8/20/2020 4:19:35 PM

HOLYOKE — Student leaders, administrators, and local and state officials came together virtually for a remote celebration Thursday for the Holyoke Community College class of 2020.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren congratulated the graduates on their work ethic and their impact on the community on a local and far-reaching scale. 

“What gives me hope every single day, hope even in our darkest times, is that we can make this a country that reflects our best values,” Warren said, “and that hope comes from you — your spirit, your compassion, your courage to fight for your friends, your neighbors, and your world.

“You are the future of America, an America that reflects our best values,” Warren continued. “I’m honored to fight alongside you, now and in the brighter days ahead.”

The theme of success and compassion in the face of serious challenges echoed throughout the celebration, which also included remarks from HCC president Christina Royal, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, state Rep. Aaron Vega, state Sen. John Velis, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, as well as Student Senate President Elizabeth Busker and student trustee Marley Friedrick.

Friedrick congratulated all students and gave particular attention to students of color, first-generation college students, non-traditional students and veterans among the graduating class for succeeding amid the “inequitable challenges of academia and society at large” and stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the police killing of George Floyd.

“You are the persistent, the dedicated, the gifted, and the changemakers of tomorrow,” Friedrick told the graduates.

Royal also lauded the graduates for their success during unprecedented times.

“You have overcome so much, not the least of which is a pandemic crisis,” Royal said. “I can’t wait to see the amazing things that you do in and for our communities.”

The virtual celebration ended with a photo montage of various graduates, many of whom wore their caps and gowns and sported degrees. 

The celebration was not intended to take the place of the class of 2020's graduation ceremony, which is scheduled to take place on June 5, 2021, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield alongside the class of 2021's commencement.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com. 


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