‘It’s finally paying off’

Passion, drive and talent could describe some of the characteristics of MCCC’s Class of 2010.

The 209 attending graduates gathered May 7 in the Welch Health Education Building for the 43rd annual commencement ceremony.

The Grand Marshall of the ceremony was Gale Odneal, associate professor of nursing at MCCC. She was noted for her hard work and commitment over the last 20 years to the nursing program, as well as being a volunteer nurse in El Salvador.

“She walks the talk,” said Grace Yackee, vice president of instruction.

MCCC’s 2010 Alumnus of the Year, Ignazio Cuccia, offered words of empowerment to the graduating class.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” he said throughout his speech, referencing the quote from the movie “Spiderman.”

“No one can take this power away from you.”

Cuccia, who graduated from MCCC in 1994 and 1995, reminded the class to laugh every day, and to give words of encouragement to others.

Cuccia’s cousin, MaryGrace, was one of the student speakers for the ceremony.

“I love you and I’m proud of you,” he said to her during his speech.

Dr. Ken Mohney introduced Sarai Richter as the speaker representing MCCC’s transfer program.

“I, for one, cannot wait to see what she can accomplish during the next phase of her life,” he said, noting her involvement with Student Government and International Studies, among others.

Richter spoke about the culture at MCCC and her fond memories of the classes she had and the friendships she made.

Richter and MaryGrace both spoke of their close friendship, and goal to be at the graduation ceremony together.

“Almost three years ago, on this very campus, we came to have a pact together that on graduation it would be her and I standing up here at commencement on graduation– and here we are thus far,” Richter said.

MaryGrace was introduced as the occupational program speaker by her faculty mentor Chef Kevin Thomas.

Thomas noted her various involvements on campus, particularly her roles as President of Student Government and President of Club Culinaire.

“She was a very active and busy student,” Thomas said of MaryGrace.

She spoke of her many challenges as a college student at MCCC.

“There were several times I wanted to quit,” she said.

MaryGrace said she managed to get through the hard times because of God, her faith and her family’s support.

She was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America in New York, which is known as the best and most difficult culinary school in America.

She told the audience what it felt like when she got the acceptance call.

“I actually told him to shut up, because I didn’t believe it,” Cuccia said.

Both Richter and MaryGrace thanked several faculty and staff members for their success at MCCC.

The graduating class consisted of 209 students who walked at the ceremony, but a total of 606 students from the winter, spring and summer semesters.

Summa Cum Laude graduate, Elijah Skiver, expressed his excitement for the big night.

“Exhilarated would be a good word,” he said. “After three years of toiling and struggling, it feels like it’s finally paying off.”