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Introducing MCCC's "Spring Into Student Success!"
Student Scholarship Representatives

3/7/14


Rowena "Sam" Beauchamp
Fine Arts, Photography

Sam Beauchamp says hers is a classic story. Starting college directly after graduating from high school 20 years ago, she found that she liked working more than she liked studying. After two decades in professional sales in computers and wireless technology, she lost her job due to a corporate merger. And, without a college degree, she was not as marketable as she needed to be.

Sam decided to return to college at Mercer in 2012, and will earn her Associate in Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Photography in May. She says she is pleased with MCCC’s Photography program, citing excellent professors, camera equipment and labs. A resident of Plainsboro, she notes that Mercer’s location between home and her current part-time job in retail tech support and training has proved ideal. “I am able to continue to work and still attend college,” she says.

Sam has also committed precious hours to The College VOICE student newspaper, where she has developed a network of friends, including other adult students pursuing new skills. “Many of them work and have high academic goals. They have added the newspaper to their plate. They are bright people,” she says.

Striving to finish her Mercer degree in two years, Sam found herself coming up short on tuition money due to cutbacks in financial aid. “I was looking at delaying graduation and delaying full-time work,” she explains. “The Foundation scholarship is enabling me to finish on time.”

While her current job is helping to pay the bills, Sam’s longer-term plans include completing a bachelor’s degree in counseling or education. “I would like to teach art and photography to underserved populations,” she says. “I want to teach others to tell their stories through photographs. It’s an outlet for people to express themselves and build their self-esteem.”

Rowena “Sam” Beauchamp

 

Carlos Diaz
Business Administration

Twenty-year-old Carlos Diaz, of Trenton, has big plans and the
ambition to make them happen.

Carlos came to the United States from Costa Rica 12 years ago, not knowing a word of English. He grew up disliking school and believed he could get by doing “just enough.”

Since starting at Mercer in Fall 2012 to pursue his degree in Business Administration, he has had a total about-face in his attitude towards learning.

“I love college,” Carlos says. “At Mercer you have people of all ages in class who are challenging you. It’s hands-on and classes are small. In college, you develop a sense of personal responsibility.”

Carlos particularly appreciates hearing from returning adult students who add their world experiences to the classroom. “They are focused and involved,” he says. “No matter how much you think you know, you realize how much you don’t know.”

Carlos believes that studying business is the most important field. “If you consider any major, it has business in it,” he says. And, he notes, he is already showing good business sense by choosing MCCC. “I didn’t want to have loans when I graduated.”
Carlos has been accepted for transfer to The College of New Jersey in the fall to study interdisciplinary business.  But his plan was almost derailed when he found out he needed one more class to graduate in May.

That’s when the MCCC Foundation stepped in and provided the tuition to help him get the job done.

“The scholarship money has made a big difference – the difference between finishing up this semester or next December,” he says.
And Carlos clearly has no time to spare.  He is set on starting his own business – the sooner the better.

Carlos Diaz
 

Carl Fedorko
Liberal Arts

Having enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17, Carl Fedorko delayed enrolling in college until the age of 22 after completing his military service. When cost became a prohibitive factor, he decided to work full-time.

But the call of higher education proved strong for Carl, whose passion for learning runs deep. That’s when he decided to explore opportunities at Mercer – a college close to his home in Robbinsville and far more affordable than other options.

“I am doing this for myself.  I like learning and writing too much,” he says.

Since 2012, Carl has taken a range of Liberal Arts classes that have challenged him to think in new ways, including courses in philosophy, law, literature, history and, most near and dear to his heart, creative writing.

“I have been tested and challenged,” says Carl, who will complete his degree on schedule in May.

Carl has gotten additional opportunities to write, edit and lead as a dedicated member of the College VOICE staff for three semesters.  He became an editor during his first semester and has developed a wonderful sense of community with fellow staffers.

“It’s the hardest I have has ever worked without getting paid,” he notes of his labors on the paper. “It’s really rewarding and intoxicating to get an idea, gather information about that idea,  and see it through to the finished product,” he explains.

Carl says that the education he is receiving at MCCC is top notch, giving him the critical thinking skills he will need for life.  “Mercer has allowed me to explore new sides of myself.” 

He notes that his Foundation scholarship “literally made my last semester possible.”

As he looks to the future, Carl hopes to transfer to a four-year school and continue to learn about politics, public policy and writing, and see where it takes him.

Carl Fedorko

 

Celina Hicks
Music and Education


Celina Hicks is completing the second year of her “Three-Year Plan” – one that makes sense both academically and financially. When she graduates from Mercer in 2015, she will have an associate degrees in Music and Education and be well on her way to earning her bachelor’s degree in Music Education.

The third in her family to attend Mercer, Celina’s path became crystal clear as she observed how well Mercer worked out for her two sisters. One is already a head analyst at her firm and the other is finishing her Accounting degree at The College of New Jersey.

Celina, who is both an accomplished singer and pianist, describes her decision to study music at MCCC as not really a choice.  “I fell in love with my music classes,” she says.

Celina’s current part-time job is a perfect segue to the future. She gives piano lessons at Russo Music Center in Hamilton and has 20 students ranging in age from 5 to 63. “It’s really neat that I am able to apply what I am learning at Mercer on the job.”

She notes that attending Mercer gives her the freedom to do so much. “It’s a college experience while still giving you the chance to have an outside life. I need to work and I need to be part of my family,” she explains. 

Celina says the scholarship she received covered the cost of her books for two semesters. “That’s a really big help.”

Celina serves as vice president of the Student Government Association and is the founder of the MCCC Music Club, which began meeting in the fall. “There was a club for everything, but not for people who want to get together and make music.  That’s what all musicians want to do,” she says.  The group now meets every week.
Celina Hicks
 

Qyecha Middleton
Computer Science

Qyecha Middleton started her college education at Mercer in 2009.  But, as the mother of a baby daughter, her life quickly got complicated. She recalls it as a rough period.  “It was reflected in my grades and class work.” So she decided to take a break.

With her daughter now four years old, Qyecha is returning to Mercer with a whole new focus and desire to succeed.  “I am serious about getting my degree,” she says. “There is no room for failure.”

A Foundation scholarship is making Qyecha’s fresh start possible. And the time off has given her the opportunity to reconsider what she truly wants to study – Computer Science.

“I started out as a Biology major, with the goal to become a pharmacist. But my true love is computers. Technology is my thing,” Qyecha says, adding that her dad is a computer engineer. She says she has always loved school and is thrilled to be back in the classroom.

The Foundation scholarship Qyecha received is covering her spring classes and, with a successful semester, her financial aid will be reinstated and she will be able to complete her degree.

“This scholarship has literally made my education possible. The MCCC Foundation is helping me move forward in life. I want to focus on my career path and to be an inspiration for my daughter,” Qyecha says.

She notes that she couldn’t have asked for a better college than Mercer. The flexible scheduling and convenient location make it easier to attend classes while juggling motherhood. And, most importantly, “Mercer is a stepping stone. It provides a great foundation and sends you on your way.”

Qyecha Middleton
 

Dexter Pennant
Building Construction Technology

Dexter Pennant first started at Mercer in 2005 directly after high school with the plan to study architecture. But then he decided to take a break to reassess his direction. After working for several years with his father, who owns a small construction business, he returned to Mercer in 2012 more focused and more mature. “I had a better understanding of my goals,” Dexter observes.
When Dexter completes his associate degree in Building Construction Technology in May, he will graduate with a firm sense of direction and confidence. “It’s a growing field with high demand and it was a better fit for me,” he notes.
                     
Dexter says he has enjoyed his classes and has learned a lot. He even did well in pre-calculus and calculus classes, attributing his success in part to sheer determination and participation in a study group.

“The Learning Center at Mercer is a huge plus,” he says, noting that while taking calculus, he and some of his classmates felt like they lived there, occasionally staying until closing time.

A reduction in financial aid left Dexter just two courses short of the finish line. The Foundation scholarship is covering the tuition costs for his two classes this spring.

“I really appreciate the scholarship. I am very grateful that it will save me from debt,” he says.

Dexter is now looking forward to transferring for his bachelor’s degree. A cooperative program at Drexel University is at the top of his list – because he has learned that these days, employers want people with experience and college degrees.

Dexter Pennant
 


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