CCAC celebrates 2019 Commencement with inspirational and eloquent speeches

CCAC Class of 2019
CCAC Graduate Surbhi Sharma
Andrew Moore CCAC Commencement speaker
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County conferred degrees, certificates and diplomas on nearly 600 graduates at its 52nd annual commencement ceremony held Thursday, May 16, at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland. A gathering of approximately 3,000 students, family members, faculty, staff and other guests attended to recognize the participating graduates. A total of 2,414 CCAC students were candidates for graduation.

"Today is the day that we-CCAC's faculty, staff and board members, along with many family members and friends-recognize and celebrate the 2,414 graduates who, through hard work, persistence, motivation and determination, have earned a credential they will carry with them for the rest of their lives-the gift and reward of a college education," said CCAC President Dr. Quintin Bullock in his welcoming remarks.

Surbhi Sharma, student reflections speaker, spoke of her experiences at CCAC and of her pursuit of a college education despite the obstacles she encountered following her family's immigration from India. After working and saving enough money to enroll part time, Sharma became involved in the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society and the Honors Program. She obtained a Leadership in Honors Scholarship from CCAC, which enabled her to become a full-time student. In addition, Sharma is one of only 10 students nationwide and the only one in Pennsylvania to receive PTK's 2019 Hites Transfer Scholarship, the society's most prestigious and largest scholarship. She plans to transfer to Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to pursue a bachelor's degree in medical dosimetry, with the ultimate goal of obtaining a PhD.

"My journey at CCAC was not limited to education-it also enriched my experience with personal growth by helping me develop confidence, overcome my fears, realize my potential, and connect me with opportunities to grow as a leader," said Sharma. "I am achieving my American Dream."

Rich Fitzgerald, county executive, introduced Andrew Moore, PhD, Head of Google Cloud Artificial Intelligence, who served as the college's 2019 Commencement speaker. Moore is a distinguished computer scientist with expertise in machine learning and robotics. He was the founding director of Google's Pittsburgh engineering office in 2006, then spent a four-year hiatus at Carnegie Mellon University as the dean of the School of Computer Science. Moore delivered an inspirational message, in which he spoke about the impact the graduates will have on the world around them as they live through rapid changes in society, technology and the economy. There are some things that don't change, he added, such as the importance of creativity and a passion for learning.

"You are graduates of one the esteemed educational establishments in this city...and you're having a tremendous impact," said Moore. "The culture is changing because people like you are challenging perceptions in society."

Other speakers included Dr. Ebony English, Endowed Professor for Teaching & Learning; Frederick Thieman, chair, CCAC Board of Trustees and member of the CCAC Educational Foundation Board of Directors; and Roseann Ferrara-Love, member of the CCAC Educational Foundation Board of Directors and CCAC alumna, class of 1975.  

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