Whoopi Goldberg and Student Speakers Celebrate “Extraordinary” Goodwin Graduates

Guest speaker Whoopi Goldberg praised Goodwin College’s students, culture, and mission when she spoke before an assembled crowd of roughly 4,500 graduates, friends, family, and faculty during the 2018 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 2.

Goodwin president Mark Scheinberg welcomed Goldberg to the stage after telling the audience about the obstacles she had overcome, and that, even as a celebrity, she had never forgotten where she came from or who she is. Scheinberg also took the opportunity to celebrate the futures of all the Goodwin graduates.

“This room knows how to be diverse and how to be united,” Scheinberg said. “You’re brilliant, prepared, and ready for the next step.”

“I didn’t know much about Goodwin before I got here,” Goldberg admitted, following an enthusiastic reception from the crowd. “Your accomplishments are extraordinary, because you didn’t have to do any of this… You chose that there was more for you than what you were being told.”

Goldberg told the graduates that they had accomplished educational goals that even she could not. “Not everyone can do it,” she said, referring to her past issues with dyslexia and dropping out of school. “I tried.”

“Words can’t stop you. Names can’t stop you. If you made it this far, what can anyone say?” Goldberg told the jubilant crowd. “Nothing can stop you but you.”

Also speaking at Commencement was valedictorian Lauren Attenello, who rang Goodwin’s ceremonial bell and led the processing graduates to their seats. In her address, Attenello recalled seeing Goodwin’s main academic building when she drove along Route 2 with her family as a nine-year-old and telling her mother that someday she would go there. When she finally got to tour the campus as a prospective college student, she knew that “this was the right place for me.”

The first in her family to graduate from college, Attenello leaves Goodwin having earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Services. She encouraged her fellow graduates to continue to “give back to this ever-changing society.”

The second student speaker was Jose Rodriguez, selected by the school community. He graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Rodriguez came to Goodwin on the recommendation of friends and, like Attenello, took to the culture and the support immediately.

He spoke at length of balancing the challenges of being both a full-time worker and a full-time student. The combination of online and on-ground classes, along with strong support from the faculty, helped make things manageable, he said. A new father and soon-to-be husband, he has decided to continue at Goodwin to pursue a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. His parting advice to his fellow classmates was that they continue on to be lifelong learners.

Goodwin conferred degrees to 950 students from its diverse, career-oriented programs, 428 of whom participated in the ceremony.


Watch video replay of Commencement (https://livestream.com/eventresources/Goodwin2018)

Hartford Courant story by Sandra Gomez-Aceves (http://www.courant.com/education/hc-news-whoopi-goldberg-at-goodwin-college-commencement-20180602-story.html)

Watch Whoopi Goldberg’s address (https://www.goodwin.edu/whoopi)

Photos from Commencement (https://www.flickr.com/photos/goodwincollege/albums/72157696048351661)

Letter to the Editor, Hartford Courant (http://www.courant.com/opinion/letters/hc-graduates-hard-work-20180607-story.html)