In the News | Three Rivers students had virtual commencement

NORWICH — Samantha Zod, a Three Rivers Community College graduate from Mystic, said she, like many, didn’t expect her graduation ceremony to go the way it did.

“I was on my couch in my slippers,” the graphic design major said.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, Three Rivers held a virtual commencement on Saturday, the first time in its 55-year history according to Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Services Robert Farinelli.

“Today’s virtual commencement will be different from Three Rivers usual commencement but, we will still bring you all of the important parts that matter,” he said during the ceremony.

mary ellen

Three Rivers Community College President Mary Ellen Jukoski reflected on the uniqueness of the current moment during her graduation speech for virtual commencement.

The virtual commencement started with a compilation of time-lapse footage taken in and around the Three Rivers campus. Then, anthropology professor William O’Hare played bagpipes, which was Zod’s favorite part of the ceremony.

“It’s kind of a staple of any graduation ceremony,” she said.

Then, speeches were given. Three Rivers President Mary Ellen Jukoski reflected on the uniqueness of the current moment.

“Your lives are going to be marked by the pandemic in the same way that previous generations experienced Pearl Harbor and World War II, the Vietnam War, 9-11, and the recent national events revealing some ugly and enduring inequities in American society,” she said Saturday.

Jukoski also hoped students would be inspired by these ongoing struggles.

“Can you show us how to create a new world, a world more kind and compassionate, where social justice inequities are addressed,” she said. “Your graduation is an invitation to use your education to begin to heal the afflictions of society by applying the best of what you have learned in your head and felt in your heart.”

The last speech given was from Sebastian Bartosiak, the Three Rivers Student Government Association president. He compared the current semester to the trials and tribulations faced by the characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” “with the trek through Mordor comparable to the experience of social distanced learning, figuratively of course.”

“I decided that I wouldn’t let this pandemic hold me back from creating valuable connections and memories that I will always hold close to me,” he said. “My hope is that you have created your own memories here too.”

For Zod, she felt being at home made the graduation ceremony more personal, since she was joined by her boyfriend and family members.

“It was kind of cool to have that intimate moment as well, ” she said.

For Zod’s future, she wants to work in a graphic design job while working on a bachelor’s degree at Central Connecticut State University. When asked about high school students that might be disappointed in their own socially distanced ceremonies, Zod said it won’t be their only graduation.

“Keep on working really hard, and you deserve the honor of an in-person one as well,” she said.


—By Matt Grahn, The Bulletin staff writer

The original article can be found here: “Three rivers students had virtual commencement”

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