College for America Blog

2016 Commencement Reflections


Posted In: CFA News, Students

May • 27 • 2016

On Saturday, May 16, College for America graduates and their guests gathered at the CfA offices in Manchester to celebrate their accomplishments and meet each other in person for the first time. We had graduates come to Manchester, NH from Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Massachusetts, and many more places! After the reception, College for America graduates walked through downtown Manchester together in their caps and gowns to Southern New Hampshire University’s 2016 Commencement Ceremony, held at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

CollegeforAmerica_Grad_Cap and Gown
Left: John Zapata (A.A. in General Studies), Right: Rondel Corlette (A.A. in General Studies)

Here is what a few graduates said about their experience:

Tena Fenton (A.A. in General Studies)

Graduation day was satisfying and emotional. I finally accomplished my dreams and realized that anything is possible. Graduation helped me realize the great impact that both College for America and SNHU have on the lives of working individuals. I graduated with veterans, parents with 2 or 3 jobs, and first generation college graduates. SNHU has taken the impossible and made it possible. Graduation day felt personable. It reached those who may sometimes feel like they have been forgotten or viewed as incapable of performing due to their lack of credentials. Graduation showed me that SNHU is bridging the gap!

Foreground: Joseph (Jay) Carey (B.A.) Background: Roy Shockey (B.A)

Jeffrey Chaput (A.A. in General Studies)

When I was originally asked if I was planning to walk after completing the AA program, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. My goal has always been the B.A., so it didn’t feel like I was finished. Ultimately, I decided to attend so my son and daughter could see what it would be like [when they graduate college] and to have something to look forward to in their future. It wasn’t until after I registered that I realized how many of the other Student Ambassadors [student volunteers who, working along with advisors, serve to inspire and support student success] would be walking. To me, this was an added bonus. Not only would I get to meet them, but I would also get to share this memory with them.

What is commencement for? To me, it is about celebrating accomplishments with the people I am closest to: family members who support my efforts, fellow students who understand what it took to get there, and the friends I have made along the way. I won’t remember the speakers or the long lines in the hot sun. I will remember who was walking with me, seeing my family and friends as I walked in, sitting together with my fellow Student Ambassadors, and finally meeting my A.A. advisor, Robyn, after the ceremony. Sharing the day with the people that mean the most to me is what I will always remember.

Renèe Mixon (A.A. in General Studies)

It was a wonderful culmination of all the hard work. I honestly wasn’t going to walk until my fellow CfA Student Ambassadors asked me to join them. I believe that made the day better than I could have ever imagined.  I was able to meet all the people I work with and see on webcam at our monthly Student Ambassador meetings. It really made me feel like I belonged to CfA, SNHU, and the whole Student Ambassador team. It is truly a day I will look back on with fondness and smiles.


Courtney Givan (A.A. in General Studies)

After experiencing graduation, I feel very relieved as well as accomplished. I never thought I’d see the day that I would be in a cap and gown again, in a large arena, and with all my loved ones showing up to watch me walk across the stage. It still feels surreal. I plan on reliving that experience, and to walk across the stage again after getting my bachelor’s degree. It’s definitely an experience I want to go through again.

Starrann Freitas (B.A. in Communications)

The experience of attending the commencement really made the whole CfA experience feel real. Being able to participate and join along with other fellow students in a time of celebration made it feel rich. It was enlightening to sit and talk face to face about our experiences as students and/or Student Ambassadors.

To hear the excitement in their voices and see the pride of accomplishment on their face was priceless. The energy in the arena was invigorating.  It was so fulfilling to be surrounded by my CfA associates as we looked through the commencement book together to see our names listed in the CfA section. That was so cool!

Watch SNHU’s Commencement Ceremony Here (College for America graduates can be seen at the 6:53:20 mark):


Interested in looking at the photos from our graduation reception? Visit our Facebook page to take a look.