June 1, 2007
By NIRAJ CHOKSHI, Courant Staff Writer
The three Dodo sisters who moved from Niger a few years ago not speaking a word of English exemplified the perseverance that characterized Capital Community College's graduating class Thursday night at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
The youngest of the three, Rimanatou Dodo, received an associate in arts degree and said she plans to major in biology at the University of Connecticut and hopes to become a pediatrician. She said she is driven by the fact that her mother passed away because of what she says was inadequate medical care. Her mother was anemic, and the doctors didn't diagnose it initially.
"If they had picked it up first, I think she could have gotten better," she said.
Her sister Safiatou Dodo, 28, received her associate in science degree, and Ousseina Dodo, 24, was awarded a certificate.
Nearly 400 students received associate's degrees or a certificate in subjects such as computer programming and health science in a ceremony in one of the convention center's ballrooms.
Many of the graduates were the first in their families to attend college, and more than 70 percent received financial aid.
As the only public undergraduate college in Hartford, Capital is the only option for some residents pursuing further education.
Even the commencement speaker, Patrick Nickoletti, an assistant professor of psychology at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, had a story of overcoming obstacles.
Orphaned at 8, he said he lived in about 20 homes and institutions, found himself in a gang and eventually landed in a detention center. From there, he said he was able to change and made his way to Purdue University and then the University of Chicago, where he received his graduate degree in human development.
He stressed the importance of relying on - and helping - others.
"Seek good mentors, be good mentors and success will find you," Nickoletti said.
He echoed the sentiment of Capital's president, Calvin E. Woodland, who spoke earlier.
"We hope that you will remain active at Capital to cheer on and mentor students who are faced with the same challenges you encountered and conquered," Woodland said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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