U.S. Attorney Ortiz Addressed NECC Graduates
“At some point you came to a fork in the road where you had to choose between two, or three, or many options. You were faced with a choice and you made the decision to endeavor down the path of higher education,” Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, told the Northern Essex Community College graduates and their families and friends seated under a white tent on the quad on the Haverhill campus during Saturday’s 51st commencement ceremony. “You are here today because you know that through hard work and education, you will achieve the success you strive for.”
“Now you are blazing your trail and the legacy that you are creating is, I am sure, an inspiration to your friends and family. I know it is for me,” she told the more than 500 graduates who participated in the ceremony.
Ortiz, noted NECC respiratory care graduate Omar Anagam of Lawrence who began blazing his own trail in 2000 when he, along with his wife, immigrated to the US working a series of jobs to support his family before enrolling at NECC in 2006. His “fork in the road” came in 2010 when he was laid off. He enrolled full time and graduated from a high demand health care field with high honors.
“Omar is living his legacy,” she said. “His resolve, and unyielding support of his wife, personifies one of the principles on which I have come to live by. I have learned through the ups and downs of my personal and professional life, how important it is to surround yourself with people who believe in you, encourage you, and support your career and ambitions.”
In her own life, Ortiz said, when she applied for the position of U.S. Attorney she had doubts about herself. It was her close friends, colleagues, and family who encouraged her. They said, “Go for it. What do you have to lose?” She said she is certain that without their support she wouldn’t hold the position she has today.
She encouraged the graduates to surround themselves with mentors, colleagues, friends, and family who will help motivate them to keep moving forward. She pointed to Alice Beauchamp of Newburyport who enrolled in Northern Essex’s business management health care option program after being laid off and realizing she needed a college education to find a new job.
“I admire Alice. She never gave up on what she wanted to achieve most: a career that enabled her to help others. And that’s something that resonates with me as well,” she said.
Ortiz, the oldest of five children, grew up in a housing project in Spanish Harlem with two hardworking Puerto Rican parents.
“Like more than half of you, I too, was the first in my family to go to college…Never could I have imagined that as a little girl who came from humble beginnings that I would one day become the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. I think it goes to show that you should never give up on what you want to achieve.”
She said she was proud to be in the company of the graduates from such diverse backgrounds: 65 percent are women, 37 percent are minorities, and more than half are first-generation college graduates.
“So as you drive away from campus today, drive along your path with confidence,” she encouraged them. “Don’t forget where you came from and return the goodwill that you benefitted from by helping those following in your footsteps.”
Her remarks followed NECC student commencement speaker David De Jesus of Lawrence, a general studies: music option major, who will transfer to Berklee College of Music in the fall. He told his fellow graduates “I came to Northern Essex simply looking to regain my academic confidence, expand my musical knowledge, and prepare for life as a student in a major college music program…Not only have I gained the confidence and skills I was looking for, but I’ve also gained a family of faculty, staff, and administrators that have given me valuable assistance, and helped make my time at Northern Essex a great success.”
He encouraged the graduates to “be proud of what you’ve accomplished. But don’t let it stop here. Use the skills and knowledge you’ve learned here, and go make a positive difference in the world.”
The commencement proceedings opened with the national anthem sung by NECC student Amanda McCarthy of Londonderry, NH, a general studies: music option major.
Attorney Dawne Young, a 1992 graduate of NECC and chair of the NECC Alumni Association, presented the Outstanding Alumni Award to Plaistow, NH, resident Susan Bonenfant, vice president of Deposit Compliance at Pentucket Bank.
Emeritus status was presented by William Heineman, NECC vice president of academic affairs, to Nancy Sabin, former assistant dean of enrollment services who continues to teach part time at the college.
Floral arrangements were provided by Holland Flowers.
Musical selections were provided by members of the Stuart Highland pipe band.
View list of graduate here
Read the full text of Carmen Ortiz’s speech.
Read the full text of David De Jesus’s speech.
With campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence and extension sites in Methuen and Groveland, Northern Essex Community College is a state-assisted college, offering over 70 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth. More than 7,400 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 6,700 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley. Northern Essex is the only state college located in the lower Merrimack Valley Region of Massachusetts. For more information, visit the website at www.necc.mass.edu.