NCC Grads Find Their Voice

Celebrating students at Winter Commencement

Katherine Noll,

Winter Commencement 2019

“You are your voice and your voice is YOU,” Sharon Gavin Levy told the group of joyous students at Northampton Community College’s Winter Commencement Ceremony on January 26 at the Spartan Center.

Levy, an English professor who retired in December after 42 years at NCC, spoke about the first few weeks during the start of a new semester, when many students are feeling intimidated and questioning if they belong. “Am I too old? Too young? Can I do this?” Yet they persevere. “Day after day, you showed up and embraced your studies, discovering your voice along the way.”

“You each have perspectives and accomplishments that are uniquely yours,” Levy told the soon-to-be graduates. “Now your voice must have an impact beyond these walls. Whatever your next chapter brings, remember the power of your voice. The world awaits your voice. Make a lot of noise!”

Numbering 594, the graduates ranged in age from 16 to 72, hailing from as far away as Kenya and as close as Bethlehem Township. 26 graduated with a sparkling 4.0 GPA.

NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson congratulated the graduates while recognizing the obstacles many had to face to get to this day. He also shared inspiring stories of several graduates, highlighting their triumphs in order to achieve their goals.

“Financial hardships, some of you working two, three or more jobs while earning your degree. Parents, raising families while juggling studies and work. Still others have coped with illnesses, injuries and personal challenges. I think all of our graduates today have had to persevere in some way to get to this day and you should take great pride to be walking across this stage. Well done!”

Nursing Grad Roosevelt Totaye

Former Congressman Charles W. Dent, who served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, gave the commencement address. He stressed to graduates the importance of finding work they are passionate about by sharing a personal story.

“My father thought I should study one of three things:  science, medicine, or engineering. I started out studying industrial engineering, but decided to switch majors to political science. I told him it was a science, and he replied ‘that’s not what I meant!’” Dent shared. “It was very good advice, but it wasn’t good advice for me. Be passionate about what you do. Life is much more enriching if you pursue your passion.”

After the graduates were each recognized by name and received their diplomas, they were welcomed into the ranks of alumni by Eden Pugliese ’08, who hoped that the graduates found in Northampton what she had: “a place to try new things, find encouragement, and see how big your dreams can be.”

Kevin Manna, professor of computer science, served as commencement marshal. Mary Bolan sang the national anthem and the NCC alma mater.

The event concluded with cheers, applause and happiness as the proud graduates and their family and friends celebrated their achievements.

View complete commencement coverage here, including the list of all graduates and the live social media wall that was on display before the ceremony started.

View photo from Winter Commencement in this photo gallery.

Read Sara Satullo’s article about graduate Roosevelt Totaye at

Winter Commencement 2019