MIAMI – Graduates were met with cheers and applause from friends and family in the audience when, because of the sheer number of graduates, Miami Dade College (MDC) held five commencement ceremonies between the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables and MDC’s Kendall Campus gymnasium.
The college leads the nation in the number of associate degrees awarded to African-Americans and other minorities, officials said, with nearly 2,500 African Americans, or nearly 20 percent of the graduating class, among the more than 13,000 students who turned their tassels.
The graduates representing more than 185 nations who strutted down the aisles in cap and gown make MDC the largest and most diverse institution of higher education in the nation, officials noted.
Many have excelled at the school’s Honors College and been accepted into top universities. Some will continue on to earn four-year degrees offered at MDC.
Among the distinguished commencement speakers was Bill Diggs, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, who began his speech with a poem and said:
“You have taken that quality step that very few people in life do, and that’s that step to determination, that’s that step that says I’m a graduate of Miami Dade College.” Like many of MDC’s graduates, Diggs came from humble beginnings.
He described that his father, despite “only being a high school graduate and a veteran of two wars in this country,” helped him to understand what pride meant. Diggs also complimented MDC President Eduardo Padrón’s strong leadership.
To the graduates, Diggs imparted: “The thing you always have to understand is that life is difficult, life is hard. Sometimes it’s not fair, but always focus on the one thing that reminds you of who you are, and that is determination and drive. That is where the difference is made in regards to who you will become.”