BENNINGTON >> Over 500 students graduated from the Community College of Vermont at the Norwich University campus in Northfield on Saturday, including 36 from the Bennington Center. Another seven from Bennington earned certificates from the college.
Among the Bennington graduates were Mirralyn Hunt, who will graduate with a degree in Liberal Studies, and Daniel Zaffarano, who works in early childhood education. Hunt came to CCV in 2012, and plans on transferring to a bachelor's degree program at either the University of Vermont or the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in the fall. Hunt worked her way through each semester, trying to avoid student loans, and while there were difficult times, her determination and hard work paid off on Saturday. Zaffarano is a T.E.A.C.H. scholar, and is passionate about using the outdoors as a classroom environment. His mother, Mina Zaffarano, is also a CCV graduate, and recently opened the Vine and Branches Gallery on Main Street in Bennington.
CCV prides itself on the diversity of its graduates, and the Class of 2016 lived up to expectations in that regard. Graduating students represented all 14 of Vermont's counties, as well as 13 states and 18 countries. The youngest graduate was 17, while the oldest was 66. Also among the graduates are 41 veterans and active duty military.
The commencement speakers were Spectrum Youth and Family Services Executive Director Mark Redmond and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.
"I can only imagine the challenges and difficulties some of you have overcome while in school: around transportation, around child care, around finances, finding the time to study while you are also working one or maybe even two jobs," said Redmond, "Maybe your family wasn't even supportive of you obtaining a college degree. But you did it. You didn't give up. You got your college degree, and you know, very few people make it to the point you have."
"I'm here just to say congratulations," said Shumlin, "You will be the best Vermonters, because you know how to fight, you know how to overcome obstacles, you know how to make it work, you know how to use your imagination and your courage and your determination and your incredible intellect to get where you are right now. And I see in front of me huge successes ahead in each and every one of you... You have made it. Many of you [will] go farther and that's great. But this huge accomplishment is going to lift your life, and I'm going to beg you to do it here in Vermont. You know there are 50 governors in America, but this I'm convinced of — There is nowhere better than the Green Mountain State, to live, to work, to raise a family."
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.