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MCCC Honors Convocation Celebrates High Achievers and Wishes Them Well


Pictured with President Jianping Wang (far left) are recipients of Albert B. Kahn Scholarships, second from left to right, Kyle Vogeler, Karen Orozco, Jamie Waclawik, Jonathan Cohen, Cindy Asencio, and Megan Connor.

Among students to receive Transfer Presidential Awards from William Paterson University were Carly Layton and Max Gatto. Layton earned her degree part-time and was active in the Student Government Association, including a year as SGA president.

From left, Dean of Liberal Arts Robert Kleinschmidt, donor Nadia Kopcho and her granddaughters, graduate Onyinye Nnajiafor, the 2018 recipient of the Ronald J. Kopcho Memorial Scholarship, Vice President of Academic Affairs Brandon Shaw, and President Jianping Wang.

Business Administration major Jennifer Eng was the recipient of the Fred Anker Memorial Scholarship. She is pictured with Dean of Business and STEM Winston Maddox, Professor Laura Sosa, Vice President Shaw and President Wang. Eng served as student government president this year.

Among Mercer's PTK honorees were, second from left to right, Cassandra Pullen, Daniela Figueroa, Justin Ellis and Alexander Varshavsky. They are pictured with PTK co-advisors Gina Migliaccio, far left, and Jingrong Huang.

Some of the 47 students who graduated from the Mercer Honors program.

West Windsor, N.J. – Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) high-achieving graduates took center stage at Honors Convocation on May 17. The annual ceremony, held at Kelsey Theatre prior to Commencement, recognizes graduates for top academic performance.

Professor of Engineering James Maccariella, the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, presided over the ceremonies, as students accepted hard-earned scholarships and certificates of achievement. Among the 100-plus participants were graduates from the American Honors at Mercer program, the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) National Honor Society, and NJ STARS program. They were joined by supportive family members and friends who applauded their special moment in the spotlight.

Said Professor Maccariella, “This ceremony allows the administration and faculty to acknowledge stellar achievement and dedication among students from the Class of 2018. They represent practically every discipline and program at the college. Many of these honorees are receiving scholarships contributed by Mercer's most generous and loyal donors, some of whom are here today.”

President Jianping Wang welcomed students and guests. “During your time at Mercer, you have learned that achievement is not possible without ambition,” she said, advising students to continue to thrive. "Don’t let the fear of failure kill your imagination. Most importantly, do not waste the opportunity to be a unique you.”

Also participating in the ceremony were Ed Gwazda, Executive Director of the MCCC Foundation, Dr. Diane Campbell, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Dr. Brandon Shaw, Vice President for Academic Affairs. The deans from the college’s three divisions, Dr. Winston Maddox, Dean of Business and STEM, Dr. Robert Schreyer, Dean of Health Professions, and Dr. Robert Kleinschmidt, Dean of Liberal Arts, along with numerous faculty members, were on hand to participate in the presentation of awards.

Dr. Wang observed that the accomplishments of these students was exceptional, especially given the challenges many faced. A number of the graduates completed their degrees while working part- or even full-time. Some were adult learners who had degrees in other fields and were changing careers, or were enrolled in college for the first time. Many achieved success as first generation college students or as non-native English speakers.

Several top scholars received multiple awards. Among them was Rohan Zia, who was selected for three chemistry awards: the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society Chemistry Scholarship, the Excellence in Chemistry Scholarship, and the Excellence in Organic Chemistry Award, an honor he shared with classmate Luis Garcia. Garcia also earned the Faculty Association Scholarship in honor of Professor Emeritus David E. Collier. Zia will transfer to Rowan University to study Chemical Engineering, while Garcia plans to attend Franklin and Marshall College to continue his studies in chemistry.

Other multiple honorees included Jonathan Cohen, who earned Outstanding Achievement in Computer Science and an Albert B. Kahn Foundation Scholarship. (Cohen was an Aviation Flight Technology major who served as president of Mercer's PTK chapter.) Cohen and fellow graduate Pratik Patel were selected for the Professor Betty Wallace Cornelius Mathematics Excellence Scholarship, which were presented by Jeffrey Cornelius, the late professor's husband who participates in the Honors Convocation each year.

The American Honors at Mercer program was well represented during the ceremony, with 47 graduates called to the stage. Additionally, 28 NJ STARS students were recognized, along with seven members of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, who received special awards for academic excellence.

Scholar athletes were also recognized for high achievement. Basketball player John Armstead, who earned an A.A.S. in Electronics Engineering Technology, and softball player Kaley Wise, who earned her A.A. in Liberal Arts/Education, were recipients of Forman Memorial Athletic Scholarships. (Wise was unable to attend the ceremony because the Mercer softball team was competing at the NJCAA World Series.) Baseball player Peter Nielsen, an American Honors student who earned his A.S. in Mathematics, was selected for the Dr. Cynthia Schaffer Memorial Scholarship.

Also among the numerous scholarship recipients were 10 graduates selected for Albert B. Kahn Scholarships. This thriving endowed scholarship program continues to support both continuing and graduating students in A.A., A.F.A. and A.A.S. degree programs. The Abrams Foundation Scholarship, another long-time endowed scholarship, was awarded to two students. Six students will transfer to William Paterson University (WPU) at Mercer in the fall with WPU’s Transfer Presidential Awards and four will attend William Paterson with PTK Scholarships.

Other graduates recognized at Honors Convocation were 22 newly inducted members of the Alpha Mu Gamma National Collegiate Foreign Language Society. 

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