Chris Gray, Ph.D. 

Founding President, Erie County Community College  

Graduation is such a significant milestone in a student’s academic journey, marking the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. Just about everything going on here at EC3 right now is related to our forthcoming graduation ceremony. We’ve been working and planning tirelessly to make this first commencement ceremony into a magnificent tribute to our students and community. And the truth is that we love every minute of it! We are simply ecstatic as we prepare to celebrate the triumphs and the spirit of our first group of EC3 grads! 

From the very first, EC3 has made part of its mission to be a true tapestry of diversity as we bring together individuals from all parts of Erie County. Whether it’s recent high school graduates seeking affordable education or working adults returning to enhance their skills, our EC3 students represent backgrounds and life experiences. They represent all of us; they are all of us.  Graduation day showcases this beautiful tapestry as our proud students clad in caps and gowns symbolize a mosaic of dreams and aspirations. 

At the same time, however, it’s important to remember that graduation is, for many students, a victory that comes after years of sacrifice and challenges. Juggling jobs, families, and personal responsibilities, these grads have exhibited resilience, dedication, and determination time and time again. Yet, despite the obstacles, these graduates persevered, demonstrating their tenacity and commitment to their education. 

As excited as we are to celebrate our students’ achievements, we are also mindful that next weeks’ commencement represents not only an accomplishment in itself but also a stepping stone toward their future success. Remember, the word “commence” means “to begin.” Our students may be leaving us, but they are beginning something new – something that their drive and hard work have provided them the tools to do. Some will transfer to four-year institutions, armed with the knowledge and skills acquired during their time at EC3. Others will enter the workforce, equipped with specialized training that prepares them for specific careers. We have helped empower these graduates with the education they need to pursue their dreams and contribute to their communities. 

We believe that this first graduation ceremony at EC3 is a celebration of determination, resilience, and the transformative power of education. We want to shine a spotlight on the diverse journeys of these Erie County residents, all of whom have overcome obstacles and worked so very hard. With each degree awarded, EC3 students reaffirm the belief that education is a powerful tool for personal and societal growth. As we honor the accomplishments of these graduates, we also recognize the profound impact they will have on their communities and beyond. They’ve changed their worlds and ours. While we are most definitely celebrating our graduates, we are also celebrating Erie County and hope that you’ll join us on Saturday, June 3, beginning at 10:00am at the Erie West location. We all have something momentous to commemorate!  I truly hope to see you there!