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MCCC Celebrates Donor Generosity and Student Success at Foundation’s Annual “Spring Into Student Success” Fundraiser


Honorees and presenters, from left, Foundation Chair Jeri Bogan Zielinski, Board Chair Mark Matzen, President Jianping Wang, former Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer (Distinguished Benefactor Award), Dr. Eli Mordechai (Spirit of Education Award), and Dr. Ed Josell (Distinguished Corporate Partner Award), with Co-chairs Pat Colavita and Nina Melker.

In recognition of their support to the college, MCCC President Jianping Wang, far right, presented Presidential Awards to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes (fifth from left) and the late Gov. Richard Hughes, and the Mercer County Freeholders, represented by, third from left to right, Andrew Koontz, John A. Cimino, Ann Cannon, and Freeholder Chair Pat Colavita. Also pictured are Foundation Chair Jeri Bogan Zielinski, far left, and Board Chair Mark Matzen.

From left, student scholarship representatives Jason LIma '17 (Business Administration), who was the student speaker; Maria Fayyaz '18 (Liberal Arts/Communication); Robin King '18 (Nursing); and Barrington Scott '18 (Game Design).

The event's Silent Auction featured baskets of donated gift items and artwork. Bidding was brisk and added to the proceed total.

The Theatre/Dance program presented two numbers from its upcoming production, "Blood Wedding" at Kelsey Theatre.

The tables were decorated with a spring theme, including gorgeous floral arrangements created by the Ornamental Horticulture program.

West Windsor, NJ. – Mercer County Community College (MCCC) ushered in spring as the college celebrated its students and its large community of friends on April 7. The MCCC Foundation’s 28th annual “Spring Into Student Success” (SISS) fundraiser drew a festive crowd of close to 300 supporters, MCCC staff and student leaders.

The event was held at The Stone Terrace in Hamilton. Proceeds totaled more than $74,000, which will be used to sustain and expand scholarship opportunities.

Participating in the festivities were SISS Co-chairs Nina D. Melker, past president of the Foundation Board and a current board member, and Hon. Pasquale Colavita, Jr., chair of the Mercer County Board of Freeholders. Also addressing the audience were MCCC President Jianping Wang and Foundation Board Chair Jeri Bogan Zielinski.

As part its 50th anniversary observance, the college took the opportunity to present Presidential Awards to county partners who have been stalwart MCCC supporters. President Wang presented an award to County Executive Brian Hughes for his unwavering advocacy for Mercer, and his father, the late Gov. Richard Hughes, who created the state's county college system when he was governor in the 1960s. Dr. Wang also recognized the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which has offered generous scholarships to high school seniors to attend MCCC. Since 2009, the Freeholders have contributed $20,000 annually to fund 10 scholarships of $2,000 each.

The Foundation honored three community partners for their dedication to furthering MCCC’s mission. Former Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer was the recipient of the Distinguished Benefactor Award. Palmer co-chaired the Major Gift Campaign for Mercer and contributed $25,000 as campaign co-chair. The fundraising project led to significant expansion at the James Kerney Campus in Trenton, including the renovation and expansion of Trenton Hall and the new Trenton Hall Annex that formally opened April 12. The Major Gift Campaign also funded laboratory expansion and other improvements in STEM disciplines at Mercer.

“Mercer is a cause that truly matters,” said Palmer, who served as Trenton’s mayor from 1990 to 2010. “I recognized the importance of the city’s partnership with Mercer early on. It’s one that provides real opportunities for the city’s citizens and bolsters economic growth in Trenton and Mercer County.”

The recipient of the Distinguished Corporate Partner Award was Area VII Physicians Organization, an affiliate of Healthcare Quality Strategies, represented by Dr. Ed Josell. “A group of physicians established the scholarship program decades ago to ensure quality healthcare for the future,” Dr. Josell commented. “We understood that nurses are the cornerstone of patient care.” The organization has provided scholarship support to MCCC’s Nursing program since 2003; in recent years, its contribution has grown from $6,000 to $10,000 annually.

Genesis Biotechnology Group (GBG) and CEO Dr. Eli Mordechai received the Spirit of Education Award. The Hamilton-based company has provided research internships for 15 MCCC students since 2006. Students work under the guidance of Ph.D. researchers on intensive lab projects, learning lab protocols and procedures as they conduct research into some of today’s major diseases. “Students’ exposure to a working lab is an experience that creates a bridge from the classroom to the real world. We hope to inspire the next generation of scientists and to give them a good start on the skills they will need for successful research careers,” Dr. Mordechai said. GBG recently expanded its internship opportunities to MCCC’s Medical Office Assistant program to give students practical, hands-on experience in a busy medical office setting.

Business Administration major Jason Lima was the student speaker for the event.  Lima, the recipient of scholarships from PNC Bank and the Trenton Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, observed that his Mercer experience has exceeded his expectations. “The rigorous course work, engaged staff and faculty, and the learning community of students has constantly push me to become a stronger individual.” Lima is the vice president of the Global Business Club, treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and student ambassador for the MCCC Honors program. He will graduate in May and plans to study global business and economics as he continues for his bachelor’s degree.

Among the other scholarship student representatives were Barrington Scott ’18 (Game Design), Robin King ’18 (Nursing), Justin Varvar ’17 (Chemistry), and Maria Fayyaz ’18 (Liberal Arts – Communications). Student Government Association leaders also attended.

The event also included a performance by MCCC Theatre/Dance students from their upcoming show, “Blood Wedding,” produced and choreographed by Program Coordinator Jody Gazenbeek-Person. (“Blood Wedding” comes to MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre April 21 to 30.) In his introduction, Gazenbeek-Person noted that Mercer’s performing arts alumni are working in a variety of entertainment related jobs locally and in New York City. “Our students are making the most of their education and are prepared to transfer and to take on professional challenges when they graduate,” he said.

Community representatives on the Gala Committee were Jeri Bogan Zielinski, Peter Crowley, Lori Danko, Tracey Destribats, Diane Grillo, Pat Hartpence, Peggy Iucolino, Linda Martin, and Mark Matzen.

The event was supported by a long list of sponsors. Major donors were New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (Presidential Sponsor); PNC Bank – East Brunswick and Dow Jones & Company, Inc. (Leaderships Sponsors); Investors Bank (Student Success Sponsor); Thomas Edison State University, Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, PSE&G, Jeri Bogan Zielinski, Fairleigh Dickinson University, First Bank, Genesis Biotechnology Group, Rider University, and Rutgers at Mercer (Benefactor Sponsors); Borden Perlman Salisbury & Kelly, Mercadien Consulting, Pepper Hamilton LLP, Douglas H. Palmer & Associates LLC, PFM Asset Management LLC, Northfield Bank, Berkshire Bank, and Dr. Jianping Wang (Green and Gold Sponsors); Carol L. Golden, New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and Glenmede Trust Company N.A. (Name Your Scholarship! Sponsors); Fulton Bank of New Jersey, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union #9, Phoenix Advisors LLC, Aamir Rehman, Dr. Yong Sup Sim, CSS Building Services Inc., and Hollis Painting (Celebration Sponsors); and AAA Mid-Atlantic and Mark Pratico Jewelers (Raffle Sponsors).

To view the Gala program book, click here.

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