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CT State Community College (CT State) celebrated its inaugural Commencement and the achievements of its graduates with a series of campus commencement ceremonies held across the state May 16-28.

More than 4,600 graduates from 164 Connecticut towns received 5,007 associate degrees and certificates during the celebrations.

The Connecticut State Community College Class of 2024 featured a diverse age range from 17 to 82 years old, with 11 pairs of twins. Among those conferred degrees were 190 graduates with a military background and 1,632 who graduated through the free college program. Nursing and health care were among the top majors, with 958 graduates. Other top majors included general studies, business, liberal arts and sciences, and psychology. A total of 882 graduates received Transfer Ticket degrees which offer guaranteed admission as juniors to the CT state universities and Charter Oak State College. 

CT State President O. John Maduko, M.D., addressed graduates of several campuses, emphasizing the value of their skills and knowledge in a rapidly evolving world shaped by technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, and renewable energy. “As graduates, you are stepping into a world where technology reshapes every aspect of our lives, and your skills and knowledge are more valuable than ever, he said. “You have learned to adapt, innovate, and think critically—qualities that will serve you well in any endeavor. As you step forward as the inaugural graduates of our newly unified community college, you are making history,” Maduko noted, emphasizing that the world needs their talents and passion. “Whether you choose to further your education, enter the workforce, or embark on entrepreneurial ventures, remember that you have the power to make a significant impact.” 


Many ceremonies featured keynote speakers who offered words of wisdom and encouragement to the graduates. Speakers included:

• U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal

• Luke Bronin, J.D., former mayor of Hartford

• Steven Hernández, Esq., executive director, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) 

• Raymond Pineault, president and CEO of Mohegan 

• Rep. Geraldo Reyes, Jr. 

• Dominique Rogers, Hartford firefighter/EMT

• Kara Sundlun, WFSB chief digital anchor 

Several graduates from the Class of 2024 also delivered speeches, including:

• Maham Aftab (CT State Asnuntuck)

• Aaron Charles, Marcelle Ferrier and Camila Regalado (CT State Norwalk)

• Saphira Dorelus (CT State Three Rivers) 

• Carla Galaise, also a CT Board of Regents for Higher Education student member (CT State Northwestern)

• Krislia Grimán (CT State Quinebaug Valley)

• Amelia Kearney(CT State Tunxis)

• Jasmine Lall (CT State Capital)

• Ephraim Mosher (CT State Middlesex)

“I look around and see students from all walks of life, that did it despite the many challenges—from caring for our families, working multiple jobs, battling mental health issues… struggling to meet our own basic needs–and many of us doing this with little or no outside support,” said CT State Northwestern 2024 graduate Carla Galaise, of Torrington, who overcame her own hardships on her way to securing scholarships that will pay her tuition in-full at top-ranked Stanford University. 

Galaise shared her story of growing up in a strict, isolated environment in a small Connecticut town, in a family that discouraged her from pursuing education even in high school. She endured a child marriage and several abusive relationships before escaping and returning to her hometown as a single mother in 2022. “We are a strong, resilient, and diverse bunch, and we did it despite all these obstacles,” she told graduates.

At Northwestern, Galaise immersed herself in campus life, taking on leadership positions in clubs and PTK national honor society, mentoring over 40 freshmen, participating in multiple campus projects, and becoming the student representative on the Board of Regents where she represented 85,000 students statewide. She also interned at the Legislative Office Building, where she met high-profile leaders and contributed to legislative processes. 

Galaise encouraged graduates not to stop with their accomplishments and raise their hands for new opportunities that come their way. “Don’t be afraid to say yes, and confront what scares you, as that fear is showing you the next steps where you can grow,” she said. “Whether you are transferring on or moving into the workforce, never stop learning and striving for more.”