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May 20, 2013

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 704-6682


Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins delivered the Commencement Address during Roxbury Community College’s 38th Commencement celebration.

Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins recently performed the Commencement Address for the 38th Annual Commencement of Roxbury Community College (RCC), held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

Beginning the day with stirring renditions of the United States National Anthem and the James Weldon Johnson hymn “Lift Every Voice And Sing” – both performed by award–winning vocalist Nichelle Mungo – the program continued with a welcoming introduction that was spoken and repeated by students in Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Russian and English; followed by greetings from Interim President of RCC, Dr. Linda Edmonds Turner and a speech by Class Valedictorian Nicholas Jon Kastanek.

Standing before a record–capacity class of 394 graduates and their friends and family, members of faculty, governing boards and officers, Sheriff Tompkins delivered an oration to the Class of 2013 that was equal parts inspirational and introspective.

“Former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,’” Sheriff Tompkins began. “How appropriate that is for us here at Roxbury Community College today where our motto is ‘Gateway to the Dream.’ You 394 graduates who are about to receive your diplomas are RCCs dreamers who embraced education and opportunity; you chose the path of responsibility and possibility no matter the obstacles or difficulties.”

Speaking about the obstacles and difficulties that he himself has faced and overcome along the winding journey that had led him to stand before the graduates on the dais, Sheriff Tompkins revealed:

“I grew up in a single parent household in East Harlem in New York with my mother and sister, in the projects. For a time we were on public assistance and for a time my mother battled alcohol addiction. But, despite her need to medicate herself each night with a six–pack of beer she was a strong parent who instilled the desire in her children to survive whatever challenges came our way…I was never afraid to go through an open door as long as I felt it presented another chance to learn and grow. A commitment to education helped me and I assure you – your education will help you.”

“Seated among you today are the future scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, engineers, laborers and civic leaders that we desperately need,” Sheriff Tompkins continued. “Every cause needs a champion; be our champions, go forth for all to see how an education at Roxbury Community College will make this community, this Commonwealth, this country, and probably this planet a better place.”


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