Roxbury Community College Graduates Receive $1,000 Cash Surprise With Diplomas

“The pandemic has heightened our need for sharing, caring and giving," commencement speaker Robert Hale told the graduating class

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At a community college in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, there was a special gift on graduation day for 150 young men and women -- all of whom knew nothing about the big surprise.

“We want you to share in the gift of giving so now, today you’re going to get a $1,000 cash,” said Roxbury Community College commencement speaker Robert Hale.

Hale and his wife Karen presented each RCC graduate with $1,000 after getting their diplomas. The 55-year-old Hale is a part owner of the Boston Celtics, as well as founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications.

“Honestly, I was not expecting it," one graduate said. "I think it was something great."

During a commencement ceremony on Saturday, president of Wiley College Herman Felton Jr. announced that an anonymous donor had cleared the balances of the entire graduating class.

The gift was distributed in two envelopes, each containing $500. The graduates are allowed to keep one for themselves. The other must be given to a family member, friend or community organization -- somebody who might need the help more.

“The pandemic has heightened our need for sharing, caring and giving," Hale told the Roxbury Community College Class of 2022 during Friday's commencement. "Our community needs your help more than it ever has before."

Some graduates are still undecided about the recipient of their second envelope, but they're grateful for the gift and the opportunity to give.

“I think it’s very generous and it should be done even more often,” said graduate Jave Riya Ahmed.

The money is one thing, but the lesson is invaluable: give more than you get.

The college's 46th commencement ceremony was held Friday in the field house at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, located on Tremont Street in Roxbury.

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