West Windsor, N.J. – On Nov. 7, Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Foundation called all superheroes to the college’s Honors Recognition Luncheon, an annual event that sees the college’s scholarship donors unite with student recipients in recognition of their academic achievement.
Hosted at Mercer Oaks, the donors and recipients in attendance enjoyed a “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” themed afternoon, complete with table settings styled like comic book splash pages and a newspaper-inspired photo booth. Laura Richards, MCCC’s Scholarship Program and Donor Relations Coordinator, designed and organized the luncheon, the theme for which was derived from the superhero-like qualities of both donors and students.
MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang opened the ceremony with her remarks.
“Heroes needn’t be stronger than a locomotive, or be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” Wang said. “More often, they are individuals primed with a commitment to humankind who channel their personal energy and abilities for the benefit of society.”
Joe Claffey, MCCC Vice President for College Advancement and Director of the Foundation, served as the Master of Ceremonies for nearly 150 attendees. He added that the community’s shared belief in MCCC students is the driving force behind the continued growth of the college’s scholarship offerings.
“Mercer awarded $650,000 in scholarships this academic year,” Claffey said. “Next year, with the support of our Freeholders and Foundation Board we are committed to give out $750,000.”
Foundation Board members in attendance included: Herbert K. Ames, Jamil E. Faridy, Robert E. Humes, Kathy Klockenbrink, Savita Lachman, Jeffrey F. Perlman, Charles J. Plohn Jr., Allen M. Silk, Esq., and Dr. Yong Sup Sim. The College’s Board of Trustees was represented by, Yasmin Hernandez-Manno, and Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli.
Among the afternoon’s highlights was the student speech, delivered by Tyler Anderson. A native to Trenton, Anderson underlined the hope that scholarships provide students, even in the face of personal challenges.
“In the media, all you’ll hear and see about Trenton is negativity,” Anderson said. “Coming to Mercer has been life changing in terms of the opportunities given to me. I am extremely grateful for the donors of this scholarship as well as those at Mercer for providing me with the opportunity in the first place.”
Also on display was a student-centric video that emphasized the stories behind the scholarship recipients.
“I chose Mercer because it was my best option,” said Dyamond Robinson, recipient of the Albert B. Kahn Foundation THS Scholarship. Studying mathematics with an eye towards becoming a secondary education teacher, Robinson said that the scholarship lessened the burden on her single mother.
“My family and I didn’t have to worry about financial issues or anything that would distract from my education,” Robinson said.
Yajaziel Reyes Estrada added that the multifaceted lives Mercer students lead – many are working part- or full-time, or have other, off-campus responsibilities – could make completing their education difficult.
“It’s very difficult to have a job and go to school,” Estrada, who is studying the culinary arts, said. “But I have to find a way to power through it. The money I earn is helping out my family, so the scholarships keep me from worrying about how I pay for my books and classes,” he said.
This year, the Foundation is providing more than $650,000 in direct support to students. Scholarship recipients are from practically every discipline of study at the college and include entering freshmen, continuing students, and those preparing to graduate who will use the funds at their transfer schools.
In addition to private contributions, the MCCC Foundation raises scholarship funds through two signature fundraising initiatives: the MCCC Golf Classic, which is held in the fall to benefit student athletes, and the Spring into Student Success benefit gala, to be held this spring at Stone Terrace in Hamilton.
For a full gallery of photos from the event, visit our Facebook Page here.