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MCCC Concludes African American History Month with Speaker Glenn Lang and Brick Dedication

3/5/12


West Windsor, N.J. - Mercer County Community College held its closing ceremony for African American History Month on February 29 at the MCCC Conference Center. Guest speaker Dr. Glenn Lang, whose career with the New Jersey Department of Education has spanned more than three decades, delivered a stirring address to an audience of students, faculty and staff.

Dr. Lang is the current acting assistant secretary of New Jersey Higher Education/Office of Academic and Student Programs. In the past he served as the director of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), which provides opportunities for educationally and economically disadvantaged state residents to enroll in and graduate from college. Dr. Lang told his audience that he is "both an advocate and a product of the EOF program," having participated in a similar program as a student in Pennsylvania.

In a time when the United States is experiencing a multi-year economic downturn, Dr. Lang said that he is still a strong believer in the American Dream. "We are in a world our great great-grandparents could never have imagined. My parents and grandparents have shown me that we are still the best game in town," he said, noting that his own family has seen major societal changes with each passing generation.

"We as a society have always ended up as more than what we were. That's what I love about this country," Dr. Lang observed. "If we surrender and say there's no such thing as the American Dream, then we've lost."

He explained that his own ancestors were slaves and ultimately came north for a better life. His grandparents faced the Great Depression head on. "They lost everything, but still enabled future generations of our family to get an education," he said. "We need to be sure of what we hope for and confident of what we can't see. It is our duty as a society to continue to make a better world."

Reflecting on Mercer's month-long theme, "Lifting as We Climb," Dr. Lang said that each of us goes through his or her own climb in life, whether it is spiritual, physical, intellectual, societal or academic. "But that also takes cooperation and teamwork."

When asked by a student what advice Dr. Lang would give his younger self, he counseled patience and perspective. When facing obstacles, he advised students to "get motivated, not embittered. The thing you're mad about now will make you a stronger person."

Dr. Glenn Lang, of the NJ Higher Education Office of Academic and Student Programs, was the guest speaker at the closing ceremony.

Dr. Lang, left, speaks with MCCC students, from left, Tiera King, Ashley Minter and Wanda Middleton, and EOF Director Khalida Haqq.
Lucia Brown-Joseph, MCCC bursar and advisor to the African American Student Organization, spoke of the rewards of working at Mercer after the announcement that students had ordered a brick on the college quad to be inscribed with her name.

Dr. Lang encouraged those in attendance to do their part to carry the message of African American History Month with them throughout the year. "Some are trying to finish that next course; some are trying to get that degree. How are we going to give them that lift from behind or above so they can succeed?"

At the conclusion of the event, MCCC bursar Lucia Brown-Joseph was honored for doing her part to help students achieve success. Students raised funds to honor Brown-Joseph with a brick engraving on campus, part of the college's "Pave the Way to Excellence" initiative. Brown-Joseph is the advisor to the African American Student Organization and teaches college success seminars. She spearheaded a mini-conference, entiteld "The Making of a Female Executive from Hair to High Heels," and volunteers for the MCCC Foundation.

"Being here at Mercer is very rewarding," Brown-Joseph said. "If I can change the life of one student, then my job here is well worth it, and many times I leave work with a smile on my face because of that."

Brick dedications are open to all who support student success at Mercer. For more information, contact the MCCC Alumni office at 609-570-3659, or click here.

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