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MCCC Celebrates Community Partners and
Student Success at Annual Fundraiser

4/12/13


West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College celebrated student success and welcomed springtime on April 4 at Mercer Oaks.  Joined by more than 225 friends and donors, the college hosted “Spring Into Student Success!,” a fund-raising event whose proceeds will provide scholarships and other critical financial support for MCCC students.

Acknowledging the many students who attended the event, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue said, “You are why we are all here tonight.  It is our goal to ensure that you succeed by providing opportunities that prepare you for the future.”
 
MCCC Board Chair Gwendolyn Harris noted, “There are so many wonderful things happening at the college.  It’s a very exciting time.” Dr. Harris pointed to the recent expansion in Trenton and the refurbishing and addition of science labs, which will help more students get the education they need in promising career fields.

Co-chairing the event were Nina Melker, chair of the college’s Foundation Board, and Mercer County Freeholder Pasquale Colavita Jr.  Both extended warm wishes to the many guests who assembled in support of the college.

“Tonight we acknowledge the generous corporations, organizations and individuals who have joined in our mission. On behalf of the college, I thank all those who have made the college and its students a priority,” Colavita said.

Melker noted, “Today’s college students face unprecedented financial challenges. But through our collective efforts, we have the power to help them attend college and achieve their goals.”

In a special presentation, Melker and Colavita presented awards to two community partners. Wolcott Blair accepted the Distinguished Benefactor Award for the Friends of Trenton Mercer Airport’s Sky’s the Limit TTN Scholarship Fund, which has given generously to the college’s Aviation students.  He noted that the Sky’s the Limit group, which is made up of tenants of the airport, has raised $130,000 since the fund’s inception in 2004. “We are committed to the college and to helping make student success possible,” Blair said.

Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., was the recipient of the Spirit of Education Award.  Siekerka has been a long-time member of the MCCC Foundation and has also served in other educational organizations including the Eastampton Township Board of Education, the Robbinsville Township Board of Education, and the Trenton Public Education Foundation.  She was a founding member of the Mercer County Bar Association’s project to educate students about the impacts of bullying. Currently serving as an assistant commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, she is the former president and CEO of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to student leaders from both campuses, five scholarship recipients attended with members of their families.  Carmen Gates, of Trenton, spoke on behalf of the scholarship recipients.  She was accompanied by her son, Roman, who is currently studying Entertainment Technology at Mercer.

“I never thought that being laid off would be so rewarding,” Gates said in her remarks.  A former sales/special events manager, Gates said she went on numerous interviews before she realized that she needed a college degree to be competitive in the job market.  Deciding to major in Paralegal Studies, she was able to apply her previous job skills in a whole new way.

“My Mercer experience was quite rewarding.  The college and the professors were wonderful. My education has been a gateway to a better future,” she said.  In her final semester in Fall 2012, Gates completed an internship with the Princeton-based law firm Buckley Theroux Kline & Petraske, LLC, and was offered a job there.  She hopes to attend law school one day.

The evening included music by an MCCC jazz ensemble featuring Jesse Becker on guitar, Tom Litwin on bass and Chase Connolly on drums. "Adding a beautiful touch of spring were floral arrangements of floating orchids and tulips, and baskets of white roses
designed by Student Activities staff member Tatiana Dodge.

PNC Bank, PSE&G, and Roma Bank were major corporate sponsors of the event. Numerous other corporate and community donors included All Clean Building Service, Inc., Borden Perlman Salisbury & Kelly; Jim Faridy, Hill Wallack, LLP; Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Anna Lustenberg, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company; Phoenix Advisors, LLC; Princeton Management Development Institute, Inc.; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton; Dr. and Mrs. Y.S. Sim;  Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc.; Princeton HealthCare System; Roddenbery Associates; Saint Francis Medical Center; Thomas Edison State College; and Tuchman Group.

MCCC Foundation Board member Scott Needham with alumna Laura Stepperfenne, who completed
her bachelor's degree at Rutgers University
and now works for Covance Inc.

December graduate Carmen Gates spoke on behalf of scholarship recipients. She is pictured with her son, Roman, a current Mercer student.

The event featured a silent auction of items donated by numerous community and staff contributors.

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Honoring MCCC partners: pictured from left, event co-chair Freeholder Pasquale "Pat" Colavita Jr., honoree Wolcott Blair, Chair of the Mercer County Board of Freeholders John A. Cimino, honoree Michele Siekerka, event co-chair Nina Melker and MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue.
County Executive Brian Hughes with MCCC students, seated from left, Dorothy Watkins-Meadows, Delores Nyerges and Terry Yuille; standing, Shantel Rogers, left, and Veronica Werner. 
From left, former Board of Trustees member Donald Loff, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue and MCCC alum Jana Wolf ('12), who serves as MCCC's alumnni trustee and is currently studying business at Rider University.
Alumna Constance Colon-Jones ('77), left, came from North Carolina to attend the event. She is pictured with Executive Dean for Student Services Diane Campbell.

From left, Gary Roston, of Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie, P.C., was the winner of the raffle prize, a gift certificate donated by AAA. Also pictured are student Sonja Eccles, and event co-chairs Nina Melker and Pat Colavita.

From left, students Timothy Hoffman, Anthony Borek, Jaqueline Goncalves, James Reisler-Wells and alumna Jana Wolf.
Student musicians included, from left, Jesse Becker, Chase Connolly and Tom Litwin.
Standing from left, Foundation Board members HelenMarie Dolton (professor emerita) and Anna Lustenberg; seated, retiree Marcy Beck and Kelsey Theatre Artistic Director M. Kitty Getlik.
Staff members who assisted at the event included, from left, Craig Morris, Linda Ertingu, Raquel Hernandez, Monique Richardson and Edyta Kuciapa.