Carroll Community College Announces Speakers for 26th Commencement Ceremony

Release Date
Trish McCarthy Carroll, Chief Communications Officer, Carroll Community College, Work: 410-386-8184
Press Release

Westminster, Md., May 20, 2019—Carroll Community College (Carroll) announces that Leslie Simmons, R.N., F.A.C.H.E., President, Carroll Hospital and Executive Vice President, LifeBridge Health, will serve as Commencement speaker. Marta Cruz-Alicea, who will be receiving her Associate of Science in Nursing will give the Student Response on behalf of her fellow graduates. The College’s 26th Celebration of Commencement will take place on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. at McDaniel College’s Gill Center.

A leader at Carroll Hospital for nearly 20 years, Leslie Simmons oversees Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Human Resources, and various support services throughout the system.

A resident of Westminster, Simmons is a graduate of the Maryland Community College system, receiving her associate degree in nursing from Anne Arundel Community College. She received her Bachelor of Science in nursing and Master of Management Administration from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

With her strong clinical background and deep commitment to patient-centered care, Simmons is a leader in numerous statewide health care initiatives. She has held leadership positions at the Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland Organization of Nurse Executives and was appointed by the governor to the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council.

A recognized leader in the Maryland business and philanthropic community, she serves as the chair of the Board of Roland Park Place, a continuing care retirement community, as well as a board member for Notre Dame of Maryland University. Simmons was inducted into The Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence in 2018, having been named as one of the “Top 100 Women in Maryland” for three years. She was also named one of The Baltimore Sun’s “Top 25 Women to Watch” in 2018.

“I am so pleased that Leslie Simmons will be addressing our graduates, sharing her compelling personal story, leadership lessons and unique perspective on service to others,” said College President Dr. James D. Ball. “Her unwavering commitment to helping both our students and her staff to achieve their dreams will inspire our graduates to reach beyond what they thought possible.”  

Simmons works closely with the College, as its graduates are a pipeline for nurses and other health care workers for Carroll Hospital and other facilities in the LifeBridge Health system.

“I am honored that Dr. Ball has given me the opportunity to address Carroll’s graduating class,” said Simmons. “I am pleased to share this life changing milestone with the students, their family and friends, and the faculty and staff of Carroll as the graduates leave the College to continue their studies, contribute to their workplaces, and engage in their local communities.” 

A 2019 nursing student, Westminster resident and mother of three daughters, Marta Cruz-Alicea, 42, will address the graduates and share the inspirational story of her journey to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.  The dream was formed when she was 17 years old and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “The doctors and nurses were so compassionate I knew that I wanted to do that for others. I want to become an oncology nurse and support others going through what I have been through,” said Cruz-Alicea.

She encountered many obstacles on her six-year journey to graduation, including a recent battle with breast cancer and a brain tumor in 2016. Her perseverance and support from the College community led to this important milestone. “Carroll Community College provided me not only the education to achieve my dream, but also the most caring people who believed in and supported me,” said Cruz-Alicea.

She wants to impart the message to her fellow graduates that suffering from defeat does not mean you are defeated, and that obstacles show us how strong we are and can serve as powerful motivators to achieve our goals.  One special graduate who will be hearing this message is her oldest daughter Emily Rosado-Cruz, who will be receiving her Associate of Arts in Teacher Education from Carroll. “I am so proud of Emily’s accomplishments, as I am of those of all of my daughters,” said Cruz-Alicea.



Carroll Community College’s mission is Empowering learners. Changing lives. Building community. Carroll Community College (Carroll) provides accessible, high-quality educational opportunities to advance careers, enrich lives, and strengthen the community we serve. Carroll offers academic and career preparation leading to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, and for direct entry into professional opportunities. Personalized learning, small class size, individualized attention from expert faculty, affordability, a convenient location, and customized training and services to the business community all make Carroll a popular choice. Since 1993, the College has served more than 136,000 students of all ages and backgrounds. Carroll Community College is located at 1601 Washington Road, Westminster, Md., 21157. Visit us on our website at