Liberal Arts, Communications
Now in her second semester as a Communications major, freshman Maria Fayyaz is the recipient of a scholarship from the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The first in her family to go to college, she is the oldest of three sisters and believes Mercer was her best choice for starting college.
“It was a safe and solid choice, both academically and financially. I feel at home here,” Maria says, adding that she is grateful for the generous scholarship from the Mercer County Freeholders, especially with two younger sisters who also plan to attend college.
Fayyaz is getting most of her required courses completed this year, from English and math to psychology and information technology. During Winter Session, she completed a sociology course online. After earning her associate degree, she plans to transfer to Rowan University.
Fayyaz believes Mercer is preparing her well for the next level. “The courses are challenging and professors really want us to do big things. I appreciate the one-on-one attention I get. Everyone makes you feel like family here,” she said.
As a member of EOF, Maria has made new friends and has had numerous opportunities to get involved in campus life. “There are so many groups, events and workshops. I appreciate it all,” she said.
While still figuring out her long-term goals, Maria says she has always been a highly organized person who is good with people. She expects to focus on a career that will utilize these strengths.
“Mercer is a good place to explore your options," Fayyaz maintains. I have friends who feel lost at their big university. Mercer provides a college environment, but it’s so much easier to make friends and find your way around. I am determined to succeed and my parents are 100 percent behind me. I want to make them proud and be a role model for my sisters.”
Robin King is one of five nursing students selected for an Area VII Physicians Review Organization scholarship. Robin earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Trenton State College in 1982 and went on to excel in a 30-year career in radiography, advancing to the post of radiology director at Somerset Medical Center.
After 17 years on the administrative side of healthcare, King decided it was time to reconnect with patients. When the last of her four children went off to college, she enrolled at MCCC with the goal of becoming a nurse.
Robin says she began to consider nursing as she was coping with her father’s illness in 2014. “The oncology nurses were phenomenal. He passed away in July and I enrolled at Mercer that same fall,” she recalls.
Anxious about going back to school, King started slowly, first taking an online course and then two more refresher courses. At that point she applied to Mercer’s evening nursing program.
“Mercer is close to home, which has worked well for me with my family responsibilities. I made a great decision coming to Mercer,” Robin said.
King notes that her combination of professional experience and her “mom credentials” has been a big plus for her – and her classmates. “There are 10 to 12 of us who get together for informal study groups. I enjoy mentoring other students. It produces a sense of camaraderie and builds confidence,” she said, adding that support services for MCCC Nursing students are exceptionally good and she is happy to add to that process.
King emphasizes that the Nursing program is extremely challenging and that’s just fine with her. “My sense of accomplishment is incredible."
The Area VII scholarship has been a financial boost for the entire King family. “With four kids to put through college, the assistance has been very welcome. It offered me just a little bit more freedom to focus on my studies,” she said.
Now in her third semester of the Nursing curriculum, Robin expects to earn her A.S. in Nursing later this year. Then, she plans to transfer to the B.S.N. program offered by Felician College through The University Center at Mercer. “I’m thrilled I can do it right here,” she said.
Jason Lima *
Jason Lima says he was unsure of his future direction during high school. He applied to several four-year colleges, but the lower cost of a Mercer education just made better economic sense – which, as it turns out, is a curriculum area he is excelling at in a big way.
The recipient of scholarships from PNC Bank and the Trenton Alumnae Chapter/Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Lima says his goals are taking shape at MCCC.
During his first semester in Fall 2015, Jason took an Honors course in Global Business and knew he had found his passion. The current vice president of the Global Business Club, he has been able to add to his resume in valuable ways. Last year, the club toured Dow Jones & Company in Lower Manhattan and sat down with company executives. This fall, the group went to the Make A Wish Foundation, giving students a chance to talk to managers who are using their business expertise in the nonprofit setting. Jason also serves as treasurer for Mercer’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.
Lima has worked since the age of 16. During his first year at Mercer, he took a full course load while working full-time. With his parents’ encouragement and his scholarship funding, he was able to cut back to just two days per week in the college’s bookstore, a much more manageable schedule.
“I am truly thankful to the donors who have helped me. I have less to worry about and can focus on my education,” he said, adding that he has two younger brothers, both of whom plan to attend college.
Jason says Mercer’s commitment to student success is readily apparent. “My professors care about my success. The course load is rigorous. Students in my classes are serious and enthusiastic. I am confident that I will be well-prepared for a four-year school.”
Lima is clearly a student who is making the most of his Mercer opportunities. “I like meeting people and I like making connections – with fellow students, with professors, and with business professionals. I am learning what it takes to be successful in the business environment,” he said.
Jason will transfer to a four-year institution, where he plans to double-major in international business and economics. Given the stellar experience he has had at Mercer, Lima is confident the transition will be a smooth one.
* Student Speaker
Barrington Scott, the recipient of an Albert B. Kahn Foundation scholarship, had a long history of enrichment at Mercer before enrolling as a college freshman in 2016. Scott was a participant in MCCC’s Upward Bound program at the James Kerney Campus since middle school, which provides year-round academic, social and college preparedness activities for middle and high school students in the Trenton area.
And, as a senior in high school, Scott took several MCCC courses through Mercer County Technical Schools and graduated from Trenton Central High School West with nine college credits.
A Game Design major, Barrington is an avid gamer. He says he took it up a notch as a teen, playing competitively and creating his own designs. He is also interested in stop motion animation.
Scott says Mercer is working out well. “I am developing a foundation of technical skills. It’s all been interesting so far.”
In addition to computer art and game design courses, Scott has taken several Honors classes that offer small, seminar-style settings for students to engage in critical thinking and participate fully in their own learning.
A first generation college student, Barrington says he comes from a very supportive family. And, he credits his high school guidance counselor with giving him sage advice by recommending Mercer. “She said it would steer me down the right path. With lower tuition costs, it’s a good value and a good education,” he says.
Scott adds that he is grateful for the scholarship, which is making it easier for him to pursue his education. “I appreciate what Mr. Kahn has done to help me and I promise to put it to good use.”
Noting that he was not quite ready to leave home when he began his college journey, Scott feels his confidence growing every day. “When the time comes, I believe I will be ready,” he says. He plans to transfer to Montclair State University after completing his MCCC degree.
Justin Varvar, who was selected for a scholarship from the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society, says he was drawn to forensic science during high school and enrolled at MCCC to study Criminal Justice. During his first chemistry class, he discovered the challenges and intrigues of college-level laboratory science and has shifted his focus to science research.
With encouragement from his science professors, Justin applied for an internship in the labs at Genesis Biotechnology Group (GBG). Last summer, he spent eight weeks at the GBG subsidiary, Medical Diagnostics Laboratory, in Hamilton.
“I got a chance to work on sophisticated projects under the guidance of a Ph.D. scientist. I developed skills that students don’t usually get until they are taking advanced courses,” he said.
In October, Varvar presented his research findings in front of a packed classroom of fellow students and professors. He described the protocols he followed and the skills he acquired at GBG in a presentation entitled “Genetic Diseases: Carrier Screening Studies.”
“Working in the industry is a lot different than being in the classroom. I did not expect to have that kind of opportunity at Mercer,” Justin said, adding that the GBG internship led to his current job at a biotech company in North Brunswick. “I went through seven interviews to get the job. I love it.”
Varvar, who will graduate in May, says Mercer is a good place to explore academic options. “I thought I didn’t like math, and now I am taking Calculus IV. Class sizes are small and students get the attention they need from professors who truly care.”
Justin will transfer to Rowan University after graduating in May, where he hopes to continue to be challenged with academic and career opportunities in the research field. “We’ll see what comes along,” he said.
“Spring Into Student Success!” features a formal dinner, live music performed by the Meg Hanson Group with Billy Hill, and a silent auction. Refreshments include hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, coffee and desserts.
Businesses and community members are invited to participate through corporate sponsorships, silent auction donations, and ticket purchases. For more information, visit www.mccc.edu/siss, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Michelle Hoffman at (609) 570-3616.
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