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May 22, 2018
May 22, 2018 / Jersey City, NJ – In what is likely one of the most important evenings of their lives, the Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Class of 2018 was joined by family and friends, as well as elected officials, and HCCC Trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff for a graduation celebration. The College’s 41st Commencement ceremonies at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, took place on Thursday, May 17.
Following an invocation led by Mount Olive Baptist Church Pastor Reverend John McReynolds, HCCC President Glen Gabert, Ph.D. delivered welcoming remarks and introduced Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise and HCCC Board of Trustees Chair William J. Netchert, both of whom spoke.
HCCC Instructor of Theater Arts Joseph Gallo then provided the introduction to the keynote speaker, award-winning Broadway and television actor, composer, and lyricist Christopher Jackson who is best known for his role as George Washington in the Broadway hit musical, “Hamilton.”
Mr. Jackson began his address by telling the graduates: “It is statistically impossible to count the number of things that had to go right in order for you to walk across the stage this evening. Some of you are the first in your families to graduate from college. Some of you had to overcome some incredibly long odds to finish – language barriers, cultural barriers, economic obstacles, crazy Presidents, times when it seemed like no one else in the world could understand what you were going through. But it wasn’t blind luck that brought you here. Your hard work, your discipline, application of your education and studies, your resilience got you here. You earned this.”
Mr. Jackson expressed that as a society, we are in desperate need of miracles today as much of our discourse is guided by hate, fear, doubt and cynicism. “But I see hope in your faces right now. I can’t help but to be optimistic” Mr. Jackson told the Class of 2018.
Mr. Jackson, who also attended community college, explained that a community college is a special place, saying that it is an institution that dedicates itself to fostering an inclusive environment and a communal experience. “It’s the how-to for our society. A place where dreams are born and ambitions are cultivated,” he stated.
The entertainer related that he learned how to recognize and surround himself with people who would help foster his special dream. He spoke about his acting career and the successes he would never have dreamed of attaining, such as performing at the White House for President Barack Obama.
Mr. Jackson then shared with the graduates: “There are going to be difficulties in your life. There will be setbacks and outright failures, and that’s okay. It will hurt, and that’s okay. Some will doubt you and you will be told to turn around, to pick something easier, more attainable. But do not, for one second, live with lack of ambition or vision.”