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Nearly 1,650 MCC Students to Earn Degrees and Certificates

May 31, 2022

Ceremony honors class of 2022 members, recognizes alumni from classes of 2020 and 2021 whose achievements were celebrated virtually due to the pandemic


WHAT:           Monroe Community College will confer associate degrees and certificates in career and transfer programs to its class of 2022 at its 59th annual Commencement. This year’s celebration will also recognize alumni from the MCC classes of 2020 and 2021, whose achievements were celebrated virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WHERE:        Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, Rochester

WHEN:           7 p.m. Thursday, June 2; best time for student interviews is between 6 and 6:30 p.m.

Students and the keynote speaker are also available Tuesday and Wednesday (May 31-June1). Hency Yuen-Eng will be available to facilitate interviews on campus prior to Commencement and will be onsite at the arena to assist media representatives.

Image of MCC student Christal Knight

Christal Knight, Class of 2022 member and Commencement student speaker

Image of MCC alumnus Rafe "Reggie" Ellison

Rafe “Reggie” Ellison, an MCC alumnus and 2022 Commencement keynote speaker

DETAILS:       The Message to the Graduates will be delivered by keynote speaker Rafe Reginald “Reggie” Ellison ’97 (Hyattsville, Maryland), an MCC alumnus and an advocate for affordable housing and community development, and student speaker Christal Knight (Rochester), who will earn an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences-general studies and, in the fall, begin studies in sustainable community development at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The MCC Class of 2022 comprises 1,640 graduates.

  • The majority of MCC graduates (approximately 69 percent) plan to transfer to four-year colleges and universities and continue their education.
  • Approximately 75 percent of graduates who continue their education do so at a SUNY/CUNY institution.
  • Of career and certificate program graduates who are employed full time, approximately 87 percent work in Monroe or an adjacent county.
  • Top majors include liberal arts and sciences–general studies, health studies, business administration, psychology, and education.

They are students like:

  • Yessica Arvizu, a Brighton resident and Mexico native who had already earned a bachelor’s in mechatronics engineering and worked two years in her chosen field when she arrived at MCC in fall 2020. She found assistance through MCC’s TRIO, a federallyfunded program that offers a comprehensive set of services to improve academic achievement, retention, graduation and transfer to fouryear institutions. Yessica, a dean’s list student and member of MCC’s honor society Phi Theta Kappa, will receive her associate degree in liberal arts and sciencesgeneral studies with a certificate in advanced studies. Through MCC’s 2+2 program, Yessica will transfer to University of Rochester, where she will study to be a psychologist.



  • Nia Beazer, a busy wife, mother and business owner living in New York City when COVID19 hit. In fall 2020, she enrolled in MCC’s fully online associate degree program in geospatial information science and technology while her children were learning from home. In addition to her studies, the dean’s list student also served as president of the studentrun Mapping Club. Nia will earn a degree, certificate and microcredential in GIST from MCC: “It’s taken me 10 years to finish college, but I’m proof that it’s possible!”




  • Landon Debes, a graduate of School of the Arts in Rochester. After his first semester at MCC in 2013, he moved west. Family ties eventually brought him back to Rochester. A love of learning and expanded remote learning options resulting from the pandemic brought him back to MCC. As a peer navigator, he was one of the first to welcome students and families to MCC. Landon, a dean’s list student, also played a pivotal role in helping the college transition back to safely serving more students in person. After earning an MCC associate of science degree in liberal arts and sciences, Landon plans to transfer to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry on his way to a career in environmental studies.



  • Jay Jeneault, a 2020 Canandaigua High School graduate who had begun to explore the possibility of majoring in theatre arts at MCC by the time MCC was recruiting the centerfielder to play softball. Because all classes were online, fall 2020 wasn’t the typical first semester in college that Jay envisioned. He persevered, earning the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and consistently being named to the dean’s list for his academic achievement. In August, Jay will spend the next four months as a crew member in the Disney College Program, then transfer to SUNY Oswego as a technical theater major.




  • Mark T. Payton, an Army veteran and an accomplished artist who has gained local and national recognition for his works. His commissioned drawing of a Navy armored cruiser, the USS Rochester, is part of a permanent exhibit on display at the Military History Society of Rochester. In his final semester toward completing his MCC degree in graphic design with distinction, Mark took one inperson and two online MCC classes. He also attended biweekly chemotherapy sessions. “I’m sleeping 10 to 12 hours most days, but quitting is not an option,” he said in fall 2021. “All of my professors have bent over backwards to help me deal with the cancer.” Mark aspires to become an urban sketcher and illustrator at Disney World.



  • Jimmie Salone, who has been working as an apprentice at JML Optical Industries, Inc. for the past three years and training in all areas of the company to gain knowledge and experience in every aspect of the optics industry. He has been named to the dean’s list for four semesters. This month, just weeks before he earns his MCC degree in optical systems technology, Jimmie also earns his journeyman status.





  • Ellashia M. Spaulding, a college student, Girl Scout leader, an ordained ruling elder, a fulltime charter school employee and an only parent of 9yearold daughter Serenity The Farmingdale, N.Y., resident and liberal arts and sciencesgeneral studies major took all her coursework online. After her MCC graduation, Ellashia plans to continue her education at SUNY Empire State, with aspirations to become a dean in the charter school system. She’s looking forward to crossing the stage on June 2. “I’ll be graduating on my birthday,” she said. “And I can’t think of a better gift to give myself.”


Note to editor: If you wish to receive video clips and/or photos from Commencement, please indicate your preferred transfer method to Hency Yuen-Eng in MCC’s Community Relations by noon Thursday.  If you are interested in interviewing any of the students listed below, please contact Hency to facilitate.

Media Contact
Hency Yuen-Eng