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Quinn Bero, HCC commencement student speaker, highlights students ‘resilience and persistence’ through coronavirus pandemic

Quinn Bero, a student at Harford Community College, has been named a 2020 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and will receive a $1,500 scholarship.
Quinn Bero, a student at Harford Community College, has been named a 2020 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and will receive a $1,500 scholarship.(Courtesy Harford Community College)

Harford Community College held a virtual commencement ceremony to honor the 1,000-member Class of 2020′s graduation Thursday evening, meaning those who addressed the graduates had to deliver their remarks via online video.

Quinn Bero, tapped to deliver the student graduate address, was among those speakers.

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“It’s definitely a letdown and discouraging, not to have the physical ceremony to celebrate with faculty and friends who I worked alongside — who we all worked alongside, honestly, everyone’s missing out,” he said in interview Thursday afternoon before the ceremony.

Bero, 20, of Street, stressed that, despite his discouragement about not having a live ceremony, he does find it encouraging “to still be able to get together virtually and celebrate — that’s something I value.”

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The college typically holds its spring commencement in the APG Federal Credit Union Arena on the main Bel Air campus. Speakers deliver their remarks to the live audience, and each graduate crosses the stage to get their diploma as family and friends in the stands cheer.

That did not happen this year, as HCC’s campus has been closed, and classes have been held online, since mid-March to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Videos of the commencement are available on the Harford Community College Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The Class of 2020 includes graduates who completed their degree programs in August and December of 2019, as well as those who finished this May. Interim HCC President Jacqueline Jackson and the Rev. Cordell Hunter, Board of Trustees chair, were among the commencement speakers.

Graduate Patrick Voelker received the Outstanding Student Leadership Award, given to a graduate who has a minimum GPA of 3.0 and has “made significant overall contributions to the College and community where personal time, effort, and dedication are evident,” according to a news release from the college.

‘Resilience and persistence’

Bero praised, during his interview, college officials for putting in “extra effort to accommodate and support students in their learning during these transitions and for the future of these situations” related to COVID-19. He noted that he and his fellow students “worked hard and were challenged” while taking classes online and away from campus, giving them the opportunity to build “resilience and persistence” that they can take into their post-HCC lives.

“This is not something we were ready for, but these types of things happen,” he said of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s important that we are building that type of resilience and persistence in order to continue pursuing our goals, and the success of ourselves and those around us,” Bero added.

Bero spent about three years at HCC as a double major in music and business administration. He was home-schooled throughout his youth and spent his first year dually-enrolled at the college and homeschool.

He is the son of Dawn and Joe Bero and has two brothers. His older, brother, Nate, is a student at HCC and his younger brother, Kent, attends the private Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore. Quinn Bero plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall and study organizational management.

“I really want to be in business management; I like being a part of leadership,” he said.

Leadership goals

Bero took on a number of leadership roles prior to college, such as serving as a youth leader at his family’s church and as a counselor at the River Valley Ranch summer camp in Carroll County.

He also has worked at the Chik-fil-A restaurant in Forest Hill and is an intern in the supply chain department of the Tessemae’s salad dressing company. He participated in “alternative spring break” while at HCC, traveling to New Orleans to assist with rebuilding and recovery efforts more than a decade after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005.

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“We got to see how much it actually destroyed the city,” he said of the storm.

Bero was named a Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar for 2020 in April after competing for the All-USA Academic Team, earning a $1,500 scholarship, according to the HCC website. He has taken on several campus leadership positions while at HCC, such as serving in Emerging Leaders, a program of the Office of Student Life.

He also is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, serving as vice president of leadership for the community college’s PTK chapter. Finally, he is the founding president of the HCC chapter of the Alpha Beta Gamma honor society for business majors.

The first group of Harford students were inducted into the honor society this week, according to Bero.

“Moving forward, many students will get the chance to be part of that honor society,” he said.

Bero does not want to be tied to a specific industry, but he does want to be part of business leadership, he said, noting that “I want to lead, regardless of where I am, and be a part of those teams.”

He credits a number of HCC faculty members with supporting him in his efforts to become a campus leader, specifically Chris Jones, who taught Bero’s honors leadership course. Bero described Jones as “an incredible mentor.”

That mentorship was a major factor in "why I was so motivated to take on leadership roles and continuing to act as a leader at HCC,” Bero said.

“We have had a challenging experience, and I think that these challenges are beneficial to us,” he said the last few months of his time at the college. “We gained resilience in this and are able to look back and take pride in how we acted."

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