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Class of 2017 to Help MCCC Celebrate 50th Commencement Milestone


West Windsor, N.J. -- Mercer County Community College (MCCC) is preparing to celebrate its 50th Commencement on May 18, marking the conclusion of a year-long celebration of the college's 50 years of service to the community.

The Class of 2017 includes 1,058 students. The college will confer a total of 1,146 degrees and certificates. This diverse group of graduates -- from different backgrounds and generations, with varied skill sets and career goals -- is linked by a common bond. They all share a desire to succeed and to utilize their education to better their lives. Many have worked full-time and part-time while pursuing their degrees and have managed to balance schoolwork with family obligations and other challenges.

The ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. on the West Windsor campus quad (weather permitting). Nursing graduate Cody Willever is the 2017 student speaker. Keynote speakers include MCCC alumni Jack Lechner ('76), Tammy Duffy ('86), and Rodney Thompson ('88).

The MCCC administration, faculty and staff wish all graduates the very best as they move on to the next stage of their lives. And, we remind them that they are always welcome to return and pursue the lifelong educational opportunities that Mercer offers right here in their own backyards..

Here is just a sampling of students who have pursued a path to success at Mercer:

Cody Willever, R.N.

Cody Willever has known he wanted to be a nurse since high school. Having just passed the NCLEX licensing exam after graduating in December, he is on his way. Willever spent 3-1/2 years at Mercer while working to pay his way through school. He says he took advantage of every opportunity, including serving as an officer for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and helping the group advance from a 3-star to a 5-star chapter in the past two years. According to Willever, his nursing professors "treated him like gold," but he credits all his professors with contributing to his success.

Willever will continue for his bachelor's degree in Nursing through the Rutgers University program on the MCCC campus. He plans to work as an emergency room nurse, and eventually become a nurse practitioner.

In attending Mercer, Cody continues a family tradition. His father graduated from MCCC and his brother took classes here.

Sam Zdanowicz

Sam Zdanowicz came to Mercer from Notre Dame High School. Sam is an NJ STARS student, which made attending Mercer an extremely affordable option. Plus, Sam liked the idea of staying local. A talented performer, Sam is also an outstanding Biology and Math student who will transfer to The College of New Jersey in the fall. He plans to attend medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a surgeon.

While at Mercer, Sam was active in student government and served in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He also conducted Honors research into genetics and cancer at Medical Diagnostics Laboratory, a subsidiary of the Hamilton-based Genesis Biotechnology Group. He presented his findings with a fellow student at a statewide STEM Summit in April. This summer he will complete a research internship at Princeton University.

Mikaela Cruz

Mikaela came to Mercer uncertain about her academic direction. Planning only to “get her feet wet,” she liked MCCC so much that she stayed, earning her associate degree in December. Along the way, Mikaela switched her major three times, ultimately deciding to study Public Health. She will transfer to Thomas Jefferson University in the fall with the goal to become a pediatric nurse.

Mikaela added another layer to her Mercer experience by working part-time in Enrollment Services and Financial Aid. She has enjoyed helping her fellow students get closer to finding their passion just as she did and says, "There is no better sense of accomplishment than holding a diploma in your hand."

Tammy Luciano

After high school, Tammy Luciano scrapped her plans for college to get married. After doing odd jobs for many years while raising five children, she decided it was her time to use her mind by going back to school. She was advised to get a degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant and was told that MCCC was the place to do it.

Luciano acknowledges that she chose a tough currciulum, but it has been worth it. "I like the variety of unique programs at Mercer. I enjoy the diversity of cultures on our campus, and I welcome all of the opportunities that have helped me grow as a leader. My professors are dedicated to my success. My Mercer journey has been full of great surprises."

Jason Lima

Jason Lima says he was unsure of his future direction during high school. He applied to several four-year colleges, but the lower cost of a Mercer education just made better economic sense. During his first semester in Fall 2015, he took an Honors course in Global Business and knew he had found his passion. As a member of the Global Business Club, he toured Dow Jones & Company in Lower Manhattan and the Make A Wish Foundation. He also served as treasurer for Phi Theta Kappa .

Jason will transfer to a four-year institution to study international business management or economics in the fall. His ultimate goal to work in the nonprofit sector. He believes he has had excellent preparation at MCCC. “I like meeting people and I like making connections – with fellow students, with professors, and with business professionals. At Mercer, I have learned what it takes to be successful in the business environment."

Angela Murphy and Aaron Jones-Murphy

Angela Murphy is an Education major and the the mother of three. Two of her children are attending Mercer with her, including Aaron Jones-Murphy, an Entertainment Technology major who is graduating alongside his mom. Murphy says it has been challenging to balance her home life and school schedule, but she and her children have studied together and supported each other. She notes that day, evening, weekend and online classes have offered her the flexbiity she has needed to succeed. Her goal is to open her own day care center.

Son Aaron says Mercer has been a great place to get a taste of college life, and notes that the best thing about Mercer is the caring and commitment of professors. They don't want you to fail. Anything you want to be, they will push you to achieve it."

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