CCBC names Lukas Kassa as 2017 President’s Distinguished Graduate Award recipient

May 15, 2017 | by Hope H. Davis | 443.840.5053 (office) | 410.971.5560 (cell)

Kassa to deliver Commencement address to “Diamond Anniversary Class

Baltimore County, MD – The Community College of Baltimore County has named Lukas Kassa as its 2017 President’s Distinguished Graduate Award recipient. Given annually, the award recognizes a student who has shown exemplary leadership as well as a commitment to help others. Kassa, who lives in Pasadena, will be presented with the award at CCBC’s 2017 Commencement ceremony where he will also provide the commencement address for this year’s Diamond Anniversary Class. CCBC’s 60th anniversary commencement ceremony takes place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 3 at CCBC Essex.

Inspired by the idea of believing in people and helping them believe in themselves, Kassa embodies CCBC’s mission at its very core. Graduating Summa Cum Laude with his Associate of Applied Sciences degree, Kassa’s leadership transcends the classroom to his work managing a male recovery program and his mentoring of fellow students in the Chemical Dependency Counseling program.

“Luke (Lukas) has always made his degree a priority and works hard in all his subjects not just to get ‘the grade’ but because he sees the importance his education has on being able to save lives and help others,” says Sara Burden, president, Evolve Life Centers in Pasadena, Md., where Kassa, himself in recovery for addiction and celebrating three years clean, currently manages and assists 20 men in early recovery from substance abuse.

While at CCBC, Kassa was an active member of the Honors program and was instrumental in tutoring his classmates, leading study groups and founding the CCBC Counseling Cadets, a student-operated organization for counseling majors.

From the outside looking in, one might think that Kassa is confident and has always had it all together, but that hasn’t been the case. He says many of the challenges he has faced while at CCBC were self-imposed – battling the thought that he wasn’t worthy of academic success. It took others believing in him for him to overcome his doubts.

“I never thought I would graduate or have any type of academic achievement, “said Kassa. “But, I learned to stop defeating myself and putting limits on what I thought I could do.”

Having grown his confidence, Kassa completed his associate degree requirements in December 2016 and transferred to UMBC, where he has finished his first semester towards a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

Admitting it has taken great perseverance to overcome his past, Kassa sees his CCBC experience as a redemptive one.

“Every change, every positive thing that has happened in my life to this point happened from the time that I started here (CCBC) until now,” Lukas explains. “I didn’t just get a degree here. I grew up on these campuses.”

Now, Kassa will have the opportunity to share his story with others as he addresses thousands at CCBC’s June 3 commencement. It will focus on his journey of struggle, perseverance and second chances.

“I was 90 days clean, 22 years old and I didn’t really have anything to offer when I started CCBC,” said Kassa. “Now I’m on the other side, transferring to a university, and finishing my degree at CCBC. Life is different now.”

To learn more about CCBC’s commencement, visit http://www.ccbcmd.edu/commencement.

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About CCBC [www.ccbcmd.edu and 443-840-CCBC (2222)]
Since 1957, CCBC, which now educates nearly 63,000 students each year, has opened the doors to accessible, affordable, high-quality education inspiring brilliance among generations of area residents. Over the past 60 years, hundreds of thousands of students have made their starts, earned degrees, launched and advanced careers, transformed their lives, and the lives of others, through CCBC experiences. Visit www.ccbcmd.edu/brilliant for more about CCBC’s 2017 diamond anniversary.

CCBC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267-284-5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

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Lukas Kassa the 2017 distinguished graduate