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21 Vernon Residents Graduate from Goodwin College

It was the 13th commencement for Goodwin.

Twenty-one residents recently graduated from Goodwin College.

In her Commencement address to the Goodwin College Class of 2012, Board of Trustees Vice Chairwoman Maria Ellis made it clear that the students were Navigators in their own right.

It was the 13th Goodwin College commencement. Ellis congratulated the 534 graduates, many of whom were first-generation college students, and urged them to celebrate their milestone.

"I expect that for each of you, there are parts of this journey that have been the most difficult trials of your life," Ellis said. "And yet, as true Navigators, you have kept afloat, shot the rapids, and docked here safely."

The following local students were members of the Class of 2012:

• Vernon resident Kimberly Britton.

• Vernon resident Robert Browning.

• Vernon resident Jacqueline Chamberland.

• Vernon resident Gagandeep Grewal.

• Vernon resident Gabriella Haddad.

• Vernon resident Laurie Pierson.

• Vernon resident Kimberly Roy.

• Vernon resident Abby Usko.

• Vernon resident Melissa Young.

• Vernon resident Ashley Bussiere.

• Vernon resident Oscar Perez.

• Vernon resident Sheri Shaw.

• Vernon resident Stephanie Turbiville.

• Vernon resident Brooke Uhrig.

• Vernon resident Marni Wernick.

• Vernon resident Meghan Robinson.

• Vernon resident David Mable.

• Vernon resident Ruth Roman.

• Vernon resident Ana Lucia Hernandez.

• Vernon resident Matthew Carter.

• Vernon resident Rory Leslie

President Mark Scheinberg used skydiving as a metaphor to describe the student experience at Goodwin.

"There's an element of us taking the jump together," Scheinberg said.

Graduate Bryce Russell reflected on the event that changed his life – seeing his best friend gunned down in Hartford. After that, Russell said, he found himself through education, the Boy Scouts, positive role models, and faith.

Russell paused at the end of his speech, found his mother in the crowd, and uttered the words he had promised her. "Momma, I did it," he said, drawing a roar of applause.

At the commencement ceremony, Goodwin bestowed an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters to longtime Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who served the state as a congressman from 1975 to 81 and as a U.S. senator from 1981 to 2011. Dodd is now the chairman and CEO for the Motion Picture Association of America.

Dodd congratulated the graduates and urged them to give back to their communities, as well as to appreciate the families who helped them along their paths.

Dr. Philip Lazowski, the Rabbi Emeritus of the Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield and author of several books, received his honorary doctorate in a ceremony held Thursday at the college. As he accepted the degree, Lazowski reflected on his experiences as a Holocaust survivor who came to the United States without knowing English, and how education and perseverance led to great things.

Rabbi Lazowski urged Goodwin graduates to not be dismayed by economic troubles or reports of employment difficulty, but rather to never stop knocking on doors.

"Yes, your knuckles may hurt, but you must pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and knock again," Rabbi Lazowski said. "It is the only way to achieve your dream."

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