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Tunxis Community College held its 52nd Commencement on May 24 & 25, with ceremonies at Central Connecticut State University and on campus in Farmington, in the final commencement as an independent college before merging into CT State Community College in July.  

More than 700 degrees and certificates were conferred to over 600 graduates, which includes graduates of continuing education health career training programs who were celebrated in a separate ceremony at Tunxis on May 25. 

The Tunxis Class of 2023 features graduates who range in age from 18 to 69, and 15 veterans. Approximately 66 percent of the class is nontraditional graduates ages 22 and older. 

“The endeavors and many sacrifices you have made to bring you to this moment in your educational journeys have led you here tonight to the first of what I hope are many golden opportunities,” said Tunxis CEO Darryl Reome, Ed.D. “All of you felt these sacrifices and efforts were worth it to ensure greater opportunities for successful careers in the future.”   

Terrence Cheng, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, also addressed the Class of 2023, congratulating graduates for rising to the challenge of finishing their degrees with tenacity, commitment, focus and dedication despite challenges at college, at home, and in their personal lives. He shared advice on working hard, having integrity, and being humble and kind. “When you swing, swing big. Don’t be afraid to fail,” he said. “Learn from your failures every time and keep learning.” He also encouraged graduates to stand up and fight for what really matters.  

Co-valedictorian Jade Ockenfels, who received her degree in CSCU business transfer studies and certificates in business administration and finance, encouraged her fellow graduates to find joy in every moment because it can be easy to only focus on milestones and forget all of the effort and moments that led up to achieving a goal. “You will always step in something while you’re climbing your mountains. Do not let it veer you off of your path,” she said. “It matters less that you avoid stepping in something and more that you keep your stride. Resilience is a skill built with every step,” she continued. “Be proud as you look down this mountain and reflect on how far you have come.”  

Seven graduates who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average were also recognized with Academic Merit Awards. They included Ockenfels as well as co-valedictorian Tram Quynh Briggs, Emma Farrow, Kyungmi Kim, Nicole Kradas, Li Li, and Mary Ellen Porter.   

awardee at podium

Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce President & CEO Cynthia Bombard of Avon received an honorary associate of art degree for her career service in business, industry, and workforce development to the state and local communities. Bombard has worked for the Central CT Chambers of Commerce, the second largest chamber network in the state—for more than 15 years and will be retiring from her role on June 30. With over 30 years of involvement in Connecticut’s Chambers of Commerce, Bombard has influenced businesses and industries to invest in workforce development and education. Earlier in her career she worked for the Bristol Press, followed by her role at Bristol Hospital as director of business development. Bombard also volunteered with the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce for over a decade, holding positions as president, vice president, and events coordinator. Some of the boards she has served on are the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, Plymouth Food Pantry, Bristol Education Foundation, Farmington Rotary Club, Bristol Works, Bristol Technical School, Farmington High School, and Tunxis Community College Foundation. 

Since its first graduation in 1972, Tunxis has served more than 185,000 credit students throughout Connecticut, awarding over 18,500 associate degrees and certificates to 15,000 graduates. The college has also awarded more than 6,200 non-credit certificates through Continuing Education and Workforce Development. Located in Farmington, Tunxis offers more than 70 associate degrees and certificates that prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs and employment in areas with industry need.  

Tunxis is among 12 community colleges in Connecticut merging on July 1 to become CT State Community College, the largest in New England dedicated to quality, affordability and accessibility. Other locations include Asnuntuck (Enfield), Capital (Hartford), Gateway (New Haven and North Haven), Housatonic (Bridgeport), Manchester, Middlesex (Middletown and Meriden), Naugatuck Valley (Waterbury and Danbury), Northwestern (Winsted), Norwalk, Quinebaug Valley (Danielson and Willimantic), and Three Rivers (Norwich). Find out more at