Sen. Markey: Quincy College grads the perfect snapshot of America
June 2, 2014
More than 330 students picked up their associate’s degrees Saturday during Quincy College’s spring commencement at the Quincy Marriott hotel. Including those not in attendance, about 450 students earned associate’s degrees from the two-year commuter school, which has campuses in Quincy and Plymouth.
By Patrick Ronan
Prior to enrolling in Quincy College in 2012, Tonya Hendrick-George lived in a homeless shelter with her four children. Two years later, she owns a 3.61 grade-point average, associate’s degree in business management, her family has a home and she’s on a career path.
Tonya Hendrick-George said her turnaround was possible because she was embraced and empowered by Quincy College.
“It was not easy for me, but being at the right college, with the correct staff, in the right season of my life, my future is looking extremely bright,” Hendrick-George said.
Hendrick-George, , a magna cum laude graduate, was one of more than 330 students who picked up their associate’s degrees Saturday during Quincy College’s spring commencement at the Quincy Marriott hotel. Including those not in attendance, about 450 students earned associate’s degrees from the two-year commuter school, which has campuses in Quincy and Plymouth.
Filling the hotel’s ballroom were graduates hailing from dozens of different countries representing a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, the event’s commencement speaker, said the college’s diversity is a microcosm of America.
Hendrick-George was selected to speak on behalf of the school’s Quincy campus, while David Hawkins, a Mississippi native, was chosen to represent the Plymouth campus. Hawkins, with a degree in criminal justice, said he’s the first member of his family to graduate college.
A corrections officer by trade, Hawkins, married with three children, credited Quincy College’s professors for helping pave the way toward his future goals – getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees, being promoted to captain in his field and working as a college professor.
“I now believe that these goals are attainable for me,” Hawkins said.
Markey, who spoke for about 20 minutes, told Quincy College grads that they are among the luckiest people who ever lived because of the nation they live in and the education opportunities they have. As examples of those who are less fortunate in the world, he pointed to the nearly 300 Nigerian girls abducted by Islamic extremists for pursuing an education, and to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for girls' education.
Markey, a Malden native with a bachelor’s and law degrees from Boston College, said he, like many of Quincy College’s students, commuted to school and had to hold a job to pay for his own tuition. Markey, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 37 years before being elected to the Senate last year, worked as an ice cream truck driver in college.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” Markey said. “Somehow the prospects keep getting better and better.”
Markey said said he’s proof that the college experience is just as rewarding for commuter students as it as for those living on campus.
He joked: “I’m living proof that you can survive seven years of education in college, living at home with my parents, without severe psychological damage.”