Pomp and Circumstance at MCCC Commencement Ceremonies


WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- Flying high was a recurring theme at Mercer County Community College's 40th commencement ceremonies on May 24. Nearly 850 students received associate degrees or certificates this year.

"I wish you clear skies and tail winds in your future endeavors," said student speaker MaryJane Harris, a pilot with Continental Express and the first Mercer student to graduate with the Honors Program designation.

Harris is a member of the U.S. Airforce Reserve. She returned to college for a science degree and plans to go to medical school. At Mercer she worked on complex science research projects as part of a cooperative program with Rider University. She was named to the Phi Theta Kappa New Jersey All-State Academic Team by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.

Mercer's new president, Dr. Patricia C. Donohue, delivered the keynote address, urging the graduates to take a global perspective on the world and encouraging them to pursue leadership and community service in their work and personal lives. She spoke of the college's Flight Team, which just returned from a national championship competition. The team won first place in the region and placed third in the country for two-year colleges.

A key member of that team, graduate Jacob Copeland III, earned his degree with honors in Aviation Flight Technology and is now pursuing further studies at Thomas Edison State College. He attended Mercer on full scholarship through the NJSTARS program and was awarded the college's Aviation Flight Technology Award.

During the ceremony MCCC Professor James Kelly was presented with the college's Distinguished Teaching Award. A music professor and coordinator of the Music program at Mercer, Professor Kelly is a much-heralded teacher who has revitalized this popular program. (Click here for Professor Kelly's acceptance speech.)

Graduates listen during ceremonies at MCCC's West Windsor Campus.
MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue hands a diploma to student speaker MaryJane Harris. Board Chair Anthony Cimino is at right.
Music Professor James Kelly speaks after receiving the 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award.

As Dr. Donohue concluded her remarks, she said, "You, the Mercer County Community College class of 2007, are the leaders of our community. The future of our region depends upon you. Congratulations on your success, and best wishes. Keep making us proud!"

Click here for photo highlights.

More outstanding MCCC graduates:

Thomas Bonacci of Hamilton graduates with a degree in Nursing after a 30-year career as a truck mechanic. He has a real estate license and began his studies at Mercer in computer networking in 2000, then decided to pursue Nursing. He worked full-time and was raising a family while pursuing his degree.

Kim Mary Coleman of Hamilton achieved a 3.96 grade point average and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. A Television and radio major, she has been active with the college radio station and was a news anchor for a weekly television news program. She assisted in lobbying on behalf of the EOF program and received an award for her efforts from a college advisory board.

Albert Giple of Hamilton left war torn Liberia several years ago and spends much time working on Liberian humanitarian efforts. He received the New Jersey Certified Public Accountant scholarship. He has served as a mentor with the DREAM program for students with intellectual disabilities, and as a lab monitor in the Learning Center. He was also a college ambassador for high schools students. A Business Administration major with a 3.75 GPA, he plans to transfer to Rutgers University to continue his studies in accounting.

Keiko Ishida of Ewing is a native of Japan and is active in Mercer's International Student Organization. She also served as vice president of the Visual Arts Alliance and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She has been a volunteer at MCCC's Art Gallery. Her work has been featured in two recent exhibits, and she presented a special program at the college -- "Discover Kimono." She will be continuing her studies at the Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University.

Jordana LeBlanc of East Windsor was chosen as valedictorian of the Nursing program's graduation ceremony because she scored the highest GPA among the Nursing graduates - 3.90. This mother of three is ready to take on the challenges of a nursing career now that her children are older. She previously earned a bachelor's degree in history.

Warren Schaeffer of Plainsboro has overcome several obstacles to achieve Dean's List status. He was selected as one of two 2007 Phi Theta Kappa "All Stars" and was honored by the NJ Council of County Colleges. He served as a mentor for students with intellectual disabilities in MCCC's DREAM program, was president of the Future Teachers Club and has been involved in many charitable efforts. He was selected to receive the college's "Student Community Service Award" for 2007. He plans to transfer to Rider University for a degree in Special Education.

Ziomara Serrano of Trenton, an Advertising Design major, received a $2,500 cash prize for a logo design she presented to the NJ Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma. She redesigned the layout for the student newspaper and was active with the Graphic Design Club. She is a 1993 Trenton High School graduate who is also raising a young son.

The ceremonies were videotaped and will be re-broadcast on Cable TV Channel 26 on the following dates:

Friday May 25, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday May 26, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday May 27, 7:00 p.m.
Monday May 28, 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday May 30, 8:00 p.m.
Friday June 1, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday June 2, 7:00 p.m.
Thursday June 7, 10:00 a.m.
Tuesday June 12, 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday June 20, 8:00 p.m.