CCBC 2017 Graduate
President’s Distinguished Graduate Award recipient
“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.”Class of 2017’s Lukas Kassa was excited to greet his fellow classmates, family and friends as he delivered the commencement address during CCBC’s “Diamond Anniversary” Commencement ceremony. Selected as the 2017 President’s Distinguished Graduate Award recipient, Kassa shared his story of redemption as he encouraged graduates to “believe in yourselves, never give up and shoot for the sun.
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.”