Gateway Community College’s Class of 2014 celebrated their accomplishments at the 22nd Commencement in Yale’s Woolsey Hall on Thursday, May 22.
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, the technologies, computer science and business were also at the top of the list. The class of 2014 consisted of 229 healthcare graduates, including 100 nurses and 129 allied health professionals. About 165 graduates majored in technologies and computer science and 65 majored in business.
Dr. Jewel Mullen, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, served as this year’s keynote speaker. A leader in building effective community-based chronic disease prevention programs, Mullen recognizes that efforts to improve the health of individuals and communities must be informed by an understanding of the social context which determines their behaviors and their access to resources. Her priorities at the Department include prevention, health care quality and safety, health equity, and supporting local efforts to create healthy communities. Mullen has combined clinical work, research, teaching and administration throughout a career focused on improving the health of all people, especially the underserved. Board certified in internal medicine, she received her Bachelor and Master of Public Health degrees from Yale University where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in psychosocial epidemiology. Mullen graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and completed her residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
An honorary associate of science degree was conferred upon Kevin Burke, senior vice president and regional manager of the Greater New York/Connecticut Commercial Banking Office of Wells Fargo. Burke, an ardent supporter of Gateway’s programs and services, was instrumental securing several Wells Fargo Foundation grants to support and expand the Gateway Middle College Initiative (MCI) “Education Express,” an innovative dual-credit program with New Haven high schools which helps to ensure high school completion and successful transition to post-secondary education while engaging parents in their children’s academic activities and challenges. Burke also sits the GCC President’s Advisory Board, where he shares his broad-based financial acumen, commitment to education, and his significant knowledge of the Greater New Haven business community. Burke has a B.A. from Fordham University in New York, a M.A. in International Relations from Boston University in Heidelberg, Germany, and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Burke also served in the U.S. Army at Headquarters in Europe
Longtime supporter, friend and advocate for the college’s new campus, John DeStefano Jr., was the distinguished recipient of the President’s Award. DeStefano is Executive Vice President of Start Bank of New Haven, a locally owned community development financial institution, and a Lecturer of political science at Yale. For the past 19 years he was the 49th, and longest serving, Mayor of New Haven, a position he held for ten terms from 1994 to 2013. As Mayor, he led the city’s nationally recognized school reform initiative, chaired the 1.5 billion project that rebuilt every school building in the city, and initiated programs to enhance the quality of life in New Haven for immigrants, domestic partners and low-wage earners. The National Civic League named New Haven an All American City three times during DeStefano’s tenure as Mayor.
The Honorable Toni Harp, mayor of New Haven, The Honorable Michael J. Freda, First Selectman, North Haven, and Thomas Griggs, chair of the Gateway Community College Foundation Board, were on hand to greet the graduates, and Dr. Michael Gargano, provost, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (ConnSCU), brought greetings from the Board of Regents for Higher Education.
Among the members of the Class of 2014 were several distinguished scholars including New Century Scholar Serena Giocomin (Hospitality Management), Nightingale Award Winner Debrah Bagni (Nursing) and GCC’s 2014 Best All-Around Student.
Members of the Class of 2014 hailed from Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Berlin, Bethany, Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol. Broad Brook, Cheshire, Clinton. Colchester, Cromwell, Danbury, Derby, Durham, East Hartford, East Lyme, East Haven, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Groton, Guildford, Hamden, Hartford, Higganum, Killingworth, Ledyard, Litchfield, Lyme, Madison, Marlborough, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New Milford, Newington, Newtown, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, Oakville, Old Saybrook, Orange, Oxford, Portland, Seymour, Shelton, Southington, Stratford, Torrington, Trumbull, Vernon Rockville, Wallingford, Westbrook, Wethersfield, West Haven, Windsor, Woodbridge and Wolcott. Florida, Georgia, Texas and New Hampshire were also represented among this year’s graduates.