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Trenton Area Students Celebrated at MCCC Youth College Ceremony


West Windsor, NJ -- Mercer County Community College (MCCC) celebrated Trenton area middle and high school students and their quest to better their lives at the Youth College Annual Awards Ceremony held on May 5 at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre.  A total of 66 middle school and high school students were honored, each benefitting from the college’s enrichment programs that prepare them for higher education.

Offered through Mercer's James Kerney Campus in downtown Trenton under the direction of Donald Davis, these programs include SMILE/GEAR UP, Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, and the Urban Academic Academy.

Master of Ceremonies was Chandlor Brown, a junior in the Upward Bound program, and Mistress of Ceremonies was Jocelyn Mendoza, a senior in the SMILE/GEAR UP program.

Scholarships were awarded to a number of seniors for academic achievement. As each member of the graduating class crossed the stage, an announcement was made of where they would be attending school in the fall.  Some colleges included Rider University, Rutgers University, Villanova University, Brown University, Princeton University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and MCCC.

The keynote address was delivered by Mercer County Freeholder Samuel Frisby, whose theme was “Your current location does not determine your destination.”  Also the CEO of the YMCA of Trenton, Frisby told students that an education is an opportunity to better their current circumstances, but it can only happen with enough desire and stamina.

Pictured is SMILE/GEAR Up Director Wayne Murray with Academic Achievement Awardees, from left: Kendra Vilus, Kirshun Turner, Edy DeLeon, Leslie Castro, and Assistant Director Rakima Stokes-Little.

Pictured are the recipients of the Upward Bound Parent Association Scholarship, from left: Lamere Burrgess, Corneal Douglas, Karon Bailey and Sata Goll.

“There are going to be people along the way that will help you and they won’t even know it,” said Frisby, recalling his eighth grade teacher who pushed him to enroll in an Advanced Placement class.  He told students that without his teacher’s encouragement he never would have pushed himself to excel in school.  “You have to be open to doing the work and use your strengths to get to the final destination,” he said.

Dr. Diane Campbell, Executive Dean for Student Affairs at MCCC, emphasized Frisby’s speech, telling students to never doubt themselves and their abilities to make a good future for themselves.  “If someone had told me when I was a kid that I would have a doctorate someday, I never would have believed it,” she said.

The ceremony concluded with Errol Bruce, state director of GEAR UP, who announced that funding for the program has been renewed by the New Jersey Department of Education for an additional six years. 

“Getting that grant opened the doors for many more students,” he said, adding that they are now looking to create new program sites in Cumberland and Atlantic Counties.

See MCCC's Facebook page for additional photos from the Youth College Ceremony. For more about MCCC's Youth College programs, click here.




Mercer County Freeholder Samuel Frisby delivered the keynote address at the Youth College Awards Ceremony.  Frisby is the CEO of the YMCA of Trenton.

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