Dougherty Family College (DFC) honored its second class of graduates and its 79 students Sunday with a virtual celebration.

“With any given graduating class there is a tremendous sense of pride felt for the students,” said Alvin Abraham, DFC Founding Dean and Frey Chair. “For the class of 2020, however, I am overwhelmed with emotion at their success.  Not only did they accomplish graduating from DFC with plans to transition to four-year programs, but they did so during a global pandemic. They navigated the swift move to online instruction beautifully while juggling so much – extra hours at work to support family expenses, assisting with homeschool for younger siblings, and diligently trying to stay healthy – all while remaining focused on graduation with grace and fortitude.”

In recognition of the 79 graduates receiving Associate of Arts degrees (including 19 who received Excellence Scholarships to fully fund their tuition to continue toward four-year degrees at St. Thomas), the Newsroom asked DFC students what graduation means to them, and had faculty and staff reflect on what they were most proud of when they think of the DFC Class of 2020. Here’s what they had to say:

Before COVID graduation meant validation for all my hard work. I worked so hard to achieve the success I had at DFC. I wanted to make sure my last moments at DFC were filled with happiness and laughter with all of my close friends. I made lasting relationships at this school that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I was so excited to have our final few moments together be at graduation. – Kaitlin Anthony ’20 AA

College graduation to me is the true definition of what it means to be independent! It means that I successfully accomplished one of my goals and can now live a little. My accomplishments as a Black Muslim women not only mean that I am on top and winning, but it means that my people are also winning too. My black brothers and sisters and I just broke the stereotypes of black people not going to college. We beat the false statistics. Graduation is everything to me…. but this is not it, there is much more to come! – Tomi Akapo ’20 AA

Graduation means that I am able to create new opportunities and grow as a student. I am able to use my new skills in the real world. – Jorge Monfil ’20 AA

Graduation means success to me. It shows all my hard work finally paid off. It’s another step towards my dream career of becoming a dentist. – Suad Nur ’20 AA

What comes to mind for me is the positive transformation displayed by each student. I appreciate how they have shown incredible growth and development by being relentless in their pursuit of excellence – both academic and personal excellence. – Doug Thompson, DFC Associate Dean of Students

“Our students will understand what I mean when I say I’m most proud of the effort they dedicated to cultivating intellectual virtue. In my estimation, this encompasses everything they have done since they began with us. I’ve watched them blossom and grow as curious, open-minded, tenacious, thorough, and courageous learners. All of our graduates have devoted themselves to cultivating their intellectual character while enrolled at Dougherty Family College, and for this I am so proud! Congratulations, graduates.” – Tim Burns, DFC Clinical Professor of Philosophy

I am most proud of how these students have grown into themselves and see themselves through an asset lens. They are so much more confident and have become incredible advocates for themselves and for one another. I love watching them actively contribute and alter for the better the organizations where they intern, as well as our university hallways and classrooms. – Kris Donnelly, DFC Director of Professional Internship Program

I am most proud of the way their face lights up when they talk about possibilities for themselves, their family, and their community. The possibility to choose a career path, to be the first one from their family to graduate with a bachelors, to give back to their communities, and to be a role model for future generations. To hear them talk about these possibilities fills me with pride and joy. – Noah Gagner, DFC Clinical Professor of Psychology

I am most proud of how my students engaged with the material and were excited to learn more about their planet.  Many came into the class thinking they were unable to do well in a science course or that it wasn’t a viable career for them, but when they saw the connections with humanity and their own experiences, many expressed that they really enjoyed the course.  I hope they take this new found confidence in their abilities into their future academic endeavors. – Michele D. Stillinger, geology faculty

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