Three Rivers Community College graduates its golden anniversary class

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Jun. 3, 2013
Cecelia Norwid of Griswold and George Smith of East Lyme await the call to begin the march into the hall for Three Rivers Community College's commencement. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Cecelia Norwid of Griswold and George Smith of East Lyme await the call to begin the march into the hall for Three Rivers Community College's commencement. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

As Three Rivers Community College sent its 50th graduating class on to the next step at its June 1 commencement, it also bid farewell to President Dr. Grace Jones, who steered the institution since 2001 and who will retire June 30.

“Use knowledge to bring change to your world,” Jones urged the 298 graduates who attended the ceremony at the Garde Arts Center in New London. “Make a positive impact for change. Give back. Vote. Use your voice. Embolden yourself. Have a courageous conversation ... Remember me for the fact that I am challenging you to go out and be all you can be.”

Jones, who served as the event’s guest speaker, hearkened back to the college’s origins in two separate institutions, Thames Valley Technical College, founded in 1963, and Mohegan Community College, founded in 1970. The two merged in 1992, and under her tenure moved to the current campus in 2009. Since its inception 50 years ago, she said, the college has produced more than 20,000 graduates.

Valedictorian Regene Abandula told her classmates the story of her arrival from the Philippines three years ago. She hoped to study accounting, but thought she could not afford college. “I thought I would have to put my dream on hold,” she said. But TRCC made it possible to for her to earn an associate’s degree in accounting. She will transfer to Eastern Connecticut State University in the fall to study for a bachelor’s degree.

Abandula offered thanks to those who helped her along her path, including her late mother who, she said, instilled in her a love of learning from an early age. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she advised her classmates. “There are times when asking for help is inevitable. There are people who are more than willing to help, with the wisdom to help you learn from their experiences.” She challenged the graduates “to be Three Rivers graduates the school can be proud of.”

“Three Rivers will always be a part of my being, and I’m sure it will be a part of yours also,” said Jones. “I am so excited for you.”


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