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Valedictorian for the Class of 2012, Jessica Soto
Hello graduates and friends.
It is an honor for me to represent the class of 2012 and be the first to congratulate my fellow classmates on their accomplishment. I do not know if anyone here will cure cancer or rock the world . . . , but I do know that right at this moment, we are all pretty incredible people. At this moment, we are exactly the same, 2012 MCC graduates, excited, scared . . . but ready.
In one of my classes, the professor quoted Benjamin Franklin as saying: “You will find the key to success under the alarm clock.” I remember thinking, “that’s a stupid place to put the key!” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what Ben meant was that every day we have to wake up and try to succeed. That talent is not enough – determination and effort are critical to success. To each of us, achievement may be defined differently, but at the end it is gained the same way, by trying.
There are plenty of amazing people who I want to thank today. The first are the members of my graduating class. While we have had plenty of support from others along the way, it was your hard work and commitment to succeed that got you here. You should all take a moment to appreciate what a fantastic accomplishment this is. So give yourself a giant round of applause.
Next, I would like to thank the amazing faculty. While you all contributed along the way, I would like to thank in particular Professors Mathew Spano, Donna-Marie Gardner, John Constantino, Jeremy Nickerson and Louis Dell’Omo. They all enriched my life.
I want to also thank my family and all of the other families who live with college students, for dealing with our crazy schedules, especially during finals and papers.
We all have unique stories, unique perspectives. Before attending MCC, I was the manager of a law firm for six years. I was married and just had my second child. School seemed like a far-fetched goal, one that could not compete with my well-paying law firm job. But you know the saying, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” I didn’t love my job but I wanted to, as I’m sure you all do. We want to work and be proud and love what we do. And so I came here.
For many of us, community college may not have been our first choice, but it turned out to be the right choice. It is the place we all needed in order to grow.
I grew more during the time I spent at Middlesex than I thought possible. For me, Phi Theta Kappa was a big part of that growth. I can remember some amazing moments that I will always cherish: hanging cranes for the Tsunami fundraiser, screaming at the top of my lungs during the breast cancer walk on campus, and watching my incredibly talented classmates break dancing in the quad during the Student Activities Fair. And mostly, I remember the friends I have made.
We have enjoyed much success and overcame a few disappointments, including trying to find a parking space. Though the road was hard at times, we all persevered. And maybe I’m a little biased but I absolutely think we have the best graduating class ever. And because you are the best class ever, I’m going to ask two things of you. First, remember that education is a lifelong process. Some of you may be transferring to a four-year institution, others may be going right into a career. Whatever your plans, make lifelong learning part of them.
Second, I would like to make a call for a commitment to education, to help someone else along the way. I ask everyone here today to commit to helping at least one other student. Maybe it is by encouraging someone to stay in school. Perhaps it is by tutoring. Or maybe, if you have the means in the future, it is by helping them financially, donating money to assist in scholarships.
Lastly, I would like to recognize our amazing salutatorian. Charlie can you join me at the podium? For those of you who do not know, Charlie Hahn has had an incredible impact at Middlesex County College during his stay here. I’m very proud to say that he is a veteran of the United States Air Force, so I want to give him a special thank you for his work protecting our freedoms that allowed us to pursue our dreams.
And without further ado, I’d like to congratulate you, the class of 2012.