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More Than 1,000 Graduate from Mercer County Community College


West Windsor, N.J. -- A bright blue sky reflected the optimism of Mercer County Community College’s green-robed graduates as they marched onto the quad to receive their diplomas May 20 at the college’s West Windsor Campus. This year 1,066 students earned their associate degrees or completed credit certificate programs. Preceding the ceremony, high-achieving students were honored with scholarships and certificates of recognition for their accomplishments.

Wowing the large crowd of students, their families and friends, student speaker David Hoyt told a moving story of hardship followed by outstanding academic achievement. After leaving high school because of illness, Hoyt took inspiration from two children with disabilities he taught in a swimming class. Their optimism and spirit, despite all odds, encouraged Hoyt to take new risks and begin again. At Mercer he studied Chinese, Japanese and Arabic as part of his liberal arts degree. An Honors Program graduate, he won the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke award of up to $30,000 per year to continue his education, and will be going to Stanford University to study international relations and business.

The commencement’s keynote speaker was Dr. George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, the primary advocacy organization for the nation's 1, 100 community colleges. Dr. Boggs shared elements of his personal story as he encouraged students to consider Mercer as the first step in a lifelong learning process. He counseled students to listen well, work hard, and help those in need. “And don’t be afraid to chart your own course,” Boggs declared. “Be dangerous dreamers. Go out and make a difference.”

During the ceremony MCCC Professor of Chemistry Helen Tanzini of Hamilton was presented with the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award. A champion of science education throughout the county, Tanzini annually organizes student-faculty science education programs at area elementary schools and at the New Jersey State Museum’s Super Science Saturday. She was selected by students and colleagues for her high standards, her passion for science education, and her dedication to students.

County Executive Brian Hughes, who welcomed the graduates and their families, was joined on the podium by county officials, freeholders, local mayors, members of the MCCC Board of Trustees and Foundation Board.

Faculty, graduates and guests enjoy Mercer County Community College's Commencement ceremonies on May 20.
Three graduates who have been accepted into bachelor's degree programs, from left, are Jennifer Dow of Hamilton,who is going to Rutgers Camden, Taj Laster of Trenton, who is going to Rutgers, and Ashley Rose Stumbaugh of Hamilton, who is going to American University.
Graduates march onto the field. At center is Nursing graduate Maureen Gallagher, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Serving as mistress of ceremonies, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue shared some of the year’s highlights. She noted that on a graduation survey, all grads seeking to transfer to four-year schools have been accepted. Sixty-five MCCC students were selected for Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges. Six of Mercer’s eight athletics teams won either an NJCAA Region 19 or Garden State Athletic Conference title, and four athletes were selected as All-Americans. Students raised money for many important causes, including the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Womanspace, the Haitian Center in Trenton, and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. “Our students practiced the citizen’s role of giving back to the community,” Donohue said.

Music was provided by the Mercer County Symphonic Band.

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