MCCC grants degrees to its share of stars
May 25, 2007
to the Times
WEST WINDSOR -- It's been five years since Albert Giple left Liberia, the war-torn country of his birth, to
chase his dreams of higher education.
Now, after two years of
taking classes while working full-time, Giple has
earned an associate's degree from Mercer County
Community College in business
administration and is on his way to a bachelor's
degree through Rutgers
Giple plans to attain a public
accountant certification and a career in the finance -- goals that will bring
him worlds away from where he began, in an African nation plagued by unrelenting
"My country has seen
14 years of civil crisis," said Giple, who
came to America
with his immediate family. "My education was constantly being
interrupted. The promise of education is what brought me here."
While working full-time at
Allies Inc., an institute that works with disabled individuals, Giple maintained a 3.75 GPA, was a participant in MCCC's
"Dream" mentorship and college ambassador program, and was
instrumental in forming "Life," a nonprofit organization dedicated
to nurturing high school students.
For all his unique
qualities, Giple has more in common with his
classmates than one may think. Many of his peers who graduated in MCCC's
commencement ceremony yesterday share his extraordinary drive for personal
growth and compassion.
a truck mechanic for 30 years, entered MCCC's nursing program after years of caring
for his handicapped son and the illness and death of a parent. Bonacci, who worked full-time in Newark
and raised a family while attending MCCC, will begin work as a registered
nurse in a Trenton
hospital after passing his license exam.
"The opportunity to
provide care to people is very gratifying," said Bonacci,
who completed an internship in an intensive care unit last summer. "I
took care of a lot of people who weren't
sure they were going to make it. The thanks I got back from them was worth it."
Bonacci stressed the importance of
remembering that MCCC is full of "working people, single mothers -- who
do so well." In addition to juggling full-time jobs and family, there
are also individuals like young Hodgkins lymphoma
survivor Warren Ross Schaeffer, who attained his degree and dean's list status while enduring chemotherapy
treatment. Schaeffer was diagnosed with the most aggressive stage of the cancer
while attending MCCC.
"It was my willpower
that kept me going. Mercer Community College was my sanity," said
Schaeffer, who is headed to Rider
University for a
bachelor's degree in elementary
education. "I knew at 9 years old I wanted to be a teacher. Nothing was
going to stop me from doing what I wanted."
Schaeffer was selected as
one of two 2007 Phi Theta Kappa "All Stars" and honored by the NJ
Council of County Colleges.
MCCC graduated 925
students last night at its West Windsor
campus, more than a third of whom will continue their education at four-year
James Kelly, the
coordinator of the college's music
program, received the annual "Distinguished Teaching Award," which
is kept secret until commencement day.
Mary Jane Harris, who
completed the college's new honors
program, spoke on behalf of the student population. A member of the U.S. Air
Force Reserve and a pilot with Continental Express, she plans to attend
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