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MCCC Graduates Celebrated at 45th Annual
Commencement Ceremonies

5/23/12


West Windsor, N.J. -- Gray skies loomed overhead as the 45th annual commencement ceremonies of Mercer County Community College got underway on May 24. But clouds did not dim the joy and excitement of graduates, faculty, administrators, family and friends who came out to the West Windsor campus quad to celebrate this major milestone in graduates' lives.

"You've been challenged in ways you've never expected," Board Chair Mark Matzen said."Now you've made it: you're a graduate." A total of 1,098 students received diplomas and certifications during this academic year.

Keynote speaker, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, inspired the audience with stories from his own famly history. His father, born in poverty in the 1930s in the Deep South, was only able to go to college and later get a good job through the financial and emotional support of the residents of the town where he grew up.

"My family never let me take the opportunities I had for granted," Booker told the crowd. "They would remind me that the degree I held came from the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors." He added that his family would often remind him: "You sit in the shade of the trees planted by others."

Booker described his experience of becoming the mayor of Newark, learning to see the problems and obstacles of the city as challenges and opportunities. "There is one choice we have in every second of our existence: to accept things as they are, or to take responsibility to change them." He urged MCCC grads to embrace the challenges and responsbilities that await them.

MCCC President Patricia Donohue proudly credited students for their many accomplishments over the past year, including giving back to the community through service projects and fundraisers. She praised The College VOICE newspaper students for receiving 14 journalism awards, and the women's tennis team for earning second place at the national tournament. She also congratulated Mercer's 29 international graduates, who hailed from countries including Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Germany, Peru and Trinidad.

Also among Dr. Donohue comments were the college's plans to expand at the Trenton campus and the installation of a solar energy project on the West Windsor campus that will reduce pollution, save on energy costs and provide real world learning for students.

MCCC Communications Associate Professor Kathi Paluscio was selected as the recipient of this year's Distinguished Teaching Award. The winner of the award is chosen by students, faculty and staff, and is kept secret until Commencement day.

Praised for her extraordinary ability to motivate students, Paluscio observed, "There is nothing I've ever done on this campus that would have been possible without the mentorship of the faculty here."

She recalled her own college graduation and how her friends and family consistently followed their congratulatory remarks with questions about what she had planned for the future, while she just wanted to bask in the glory of the moment for a little while. It was only later that she realized they were paying her the ultimate compliment. "They just want to get a hint of that next exciting chapter in your life."

Paluscio noted that while seeing students graduate is bittersweet for the faculty members who have mentored them, "we have high hopes for what you will accomplish. I believe that all of you here today are like an amazing adventure story. My life pales in comparison to yours."

Sixty-two-year-old Norman Glover, of East Windsor, was the ceremony's student speaker. A Vietnam veteran who earned a Purple Heart for his military service, Glover dropped out of high school in eleventh grade to join the army. He earned his GED while in the army and delayed college until middle-age.

"No one is more surprised to see me up here than I am," he said, adding that the loss of his trucking job during the recession was what inspired him to finally finish his schooling. "There is no elevator to success; you have to take the stairs," Glover said.

Studying at Mercer while raising a family, Glover earns his associate degree in Business Management. He is the vice president of All Chemical Transport in Lakewood.

For more graduation stories, click here.

Prior to commencement ceremonies, the college hosted an Honors Convocation where hundreds of awards and scholarships were presented to high achieving students, including endowed scholarships funded by community donors.

 

 

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Proud graduates enter the quad.
Student speaker was Business Administration major Norman Glover, a returning adult who has earned his associate degree at age 62.
Guest speaker, Newark Mayor Cory Booker,
shared stories from his life that resonated with graduates.
Students listen to the inspirational messages.
Distinguished Teacher awardee was
Associate Professor of Communication Kathi Paluscio.
Grads show their appreciation for commencement speakers.