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Mercer Grads Defy the Weather to March Forward in Their Life Goals

5/23/18


MCCC Graduates

More than 1,000 MCCC students received their degrees during a ceremony May 17 on the West Windsor Campus.

Students

Students during the 2018 MCCC Commencement Ceremony.

Jianping Wang, Theresa Capra, Carol Golden

Education Professor Dr. Theresa Capra (center), is congratulated by MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang (left) and Board of Trustees Chair Carol Golden (right) after receiving the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Brian M. Hughes

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes addresses the MCCC Class of 2018.

Latasha Whaite

Latasha White, who graduated with a degree in Public Health, was selected as the 2018 Commencement speaker. She will receive her degree in Nursing in December.

Daniel Klim

Keynote speaker Daniel Klim, a Mercer alumnus, traded his mortar board for his Vikings baseball cap for his address to graduates. Klim was a member of the 1996 MCCC team that competed for the national championship.

WEST WINDSOR – Stories of determination and perseverance, along with words of encouragement, were the order of the day as Mercer County Community College (MCCC) celebrated the accomplishments of 1,032 graduates May 17 on the college’s West Windsor Campus.

“We look forward to celebrating all of your accomplishments in the future,” said MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang. “You will forever be a member of the Mercer family.”

Due to a day of rain, the traditional ceremony on the college’s quad was moved indoors to the gymnasium, but that did not prevent a capacity crowd from celebrating the accomplishments of friends and family members. Just before the commencement ceremony, more than 100 graduates were recognized during the annual Honors Convocation, many receiving scholarships to continue their education.

“Today we celebrate the accomplishments of each of our graduates, your commitment to achieving something important, your sacrifices, your hard work, and your persistence,” said Carol Golden, chair of the MCCC Board of Trustees. “Today, celebrate. Tomorrow, continue your commitment to learning, achieving, and serving in our community.”

Among those addressing the graduates was Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, whose father, the late Gov. Richard J. Hughes, saw the establishment of the New Jersey community college system during his tenure as governor. For that reason, he said, the value of a community college education holds a special place for him.

“It means so much to me to see so many people come together to celebrate,” Hughes said. “We fulfill dreams, we fulfil hopes, we fulfill aspirations.”

In delivering his keynote address to graduates, Daniel Klim, executive director of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey and a Mercer County Community College alumnus, traded the traditional graduation mortar board for a Mercer Vikings baseball cap – a cap he wore as a member of the MCCC baseball team that made a run for the national championship in 1996.

During his time at Mercer, Klim said he worked at the college in field maintenance and as a lifeguard at the college swimming pool, all while studying and practicing as a student athlete. And when he looks back on his career path at Giants Stadium and as a nationally-recognized leader in youth sports, he said, it all began at Mercer.

“This evening, we are all bound together by a commonality that is this institution,” Klim said. “We are more alike than different, even though our paths towards accomplishment may be dissimilar. We all have Mercer as a foundation from which we can build upon.”

Dr. Theresa Capra, an Education professor at Mercer, was named the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, an award given to a faculty member annually by peers in recognition of teaching excellence. In accepting the award, Capra recounted her own educational journey, including moving out of the family home at the age of 18 and working 35 hours a week or more while being a full-time student.

“I don’t prescribe to platitudes, but I can say this: Never mistake an obstacle as a challenge,” Capra said.

Selected as the student speaker representing the Class of 2018 was Latasha White, a mother of three whose eldest son currently attends MCCC. She enrolled in college at the age of 33, and graduated Thursday with a degree in Public Health. She will receive her degree in Nursing from MCCC in December.

White said following her role as primary caregiver for her mother, who died of cancer in 2010, she made the decision to pursue a career in caring for the elderly. She encouraged her fellow graduates to also pursue their passions and make a difference in the lives of others, and did so by paraphrasing a quote from poet Maya Angelou.

“I say to you, try to be the rainbow for someone’s cloud,” White said, and then continued, “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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