Commencement 2022: Celebrating Our Amazing Grads



West Windsor, N.J. – The Class of 2022 includes almost 800 students. Behind the numbers are extraordinary stories of achievement at an extraordinarily challenging time. Each one of these students has found a way to succeed even as the higher education landscape shifted under their feet. They adapted to online learning, and displayed the determination and discipline required to stay true to their goals. 

Every student has had their own journey, but those who have thrived express common sentiments -- a  sense of deep gratitude to their professors and advisors and to the friends they have made at Mercer. The pandemic taught them a lot, but nothing more important than the desire and need to connect with others. Here are just a few of their stories.


Some of MCCC's most distinguished students were recognized by the Board of Trustees as part of Community College Month in April.


Jennifer Carter

Jennifer Carter Finds Mom-Student Balance at Mercer
A.A., Communication

As a returning adult student, Jennifer Carter has juggled a lot: her duties as a mom, her full-time and part-time jobs, her work study position in the Student Life office – and achievement in the classroom.

Carter was surprised by how kind and helpful the faculty and staff have been. “They went above and beyond to help me,” she says. “I am forever grateful that I decided to continue my education years after high school at such caring college.”

Carter says it’s the rich relationships she formed at Mercer that stand out most. In addition to her fellow students, she singles out her advisor, Professor Alvyn Haywood (Communication), and Professor Steve Voorhees (Television), as well as EOF Advisor Stephanie Williams, Administrative Professional Beth Knight and Student Life Director Danielle Garruba. Each one played a role in her success.

According to Garruba, Carter has made a real difference at the college. “Jennifer was our Student Government Association (SGA) parliamentarian. She is a hard worker, and she is creative,” Garruba noted, adding that Carter assisted with many events and programs including a project called the Student Life Career Closet, which helped to provide students with clothes for job interviews.

Carter will continue her studies in advertising at the University of Central Florida. She is focused on real estate advertising and staging.

Ashley Jackson Heads to Princeton After Award-winning Mercer Experience
A.A., Liberal Arts

Ashley Jackson came to MCCC as a non-traditional student after studying theater in New York City and working for five years as an actor on stage while taking on all kinds of performing sides jobs, including donning an M&M costume in Times Square. COVID forced her to transition away from a traditional theater path, but it led her to MCCC and helped her set a new goal to establish a theater company. 

Jackson participated in the Mercer Honors program, taking an astonishing eight Honors classes. She was accepted to present a political science paper at the regional Beacon Conference in June.

Ashley also served as co-editor in chief of The College VOICE student newspaper. She led a team of student reporters – first remotely and then in person – mentoring them while learning the craft of journalism herself and steering the paper toward a greater emphasis on social justice issues. The VOICE won 19 state and 5 national journalism awards this year; Jackson’s own work on The VOICE earned her five awards from the New Jersey Press Foundation over the past two years.

VOICE media co-adviser Professor Holly Johnson says, “Ashley is a tireless leader who had to learn everything on the fly. She built an amazing, collaborative team with her encouraging attitude."

Jackson works 20-plus hours per week at NOVA, the first and only rape crisis center in Bucks County. She earned a Certificate of Training in "Leadership and No-Blame Problem Solving" through The Citizens Campaign. During the height of the COVID crisis, she volunteered to distribute food at Trenton High School.

Jackson will transfer to Princeton University in the fall to major in Sociology with a double minor in Business and Theater. 


Ashley Jackson


Ryan Sarria

Ryan Sarria Reaches for the Sky
A.A.S., Aviation Flight Technology

Ryan Sarria has always dreamed of taking flight. Before enrolling at Mercer in 2020, he served honorably for six years as an Army infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. While in the army, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics, with minors in Management and Aviation Management, through an online program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

The missing piece was flight training and all the licenses that go with it. Sarria visited the MCCC campus and believed it was his best next step.

He says his positive first impressions of MCCC have all been realized. He points especially to faculty members like Andy Quinn who have been dedicated to his success. “He has encouraged my progress and prepared me for my FAA Knowledge Tests. Some of the best tips I have received have been on the progress flights I’ve had with him [Quinn],” Sarria said.

The veterans community at Mercer proved welcoming as well. Starting at the college before the onset of the pandemic, Sarria made some meaningful friendships. He recalls the college’s veterans lounge, where vets would go between classes to study, talk, and generally take a break. “Sometimes we would joke around, but mostly we supported each other,” he said, recalling students helping each other with math, physics, and other challenging assignments.  He adds that John Becker, director of Veterans Services, was readily available to offer guidance and advice.

Last summer, Sarrria added to his resume in a distinctive way, when he served as an intern for the Port Authority of NY & NJ Aviation Department at Newark, where he helped to update and develop new procedures.

As Sarria's final year approached, he was facing the mounting costs of flight training and was extremely grateful to receive the Giving Ladder scholarship from the MCCC Foundation. “The scholarship allowed me to continue to focus on my education and maintain a high GPA. It was a much-needed boost and gave me a sense that I can and will achieve my goals.”

Angel Agyeman Doesn't Let Pandemic Slow Her Down; Next Stop Is Howard University
A.S., Business Administration

Despite the pandemic shutdown, Angel Agyeman has made the most of Mercer experience, participating in leadership activities remotely during her first year and in person this year.

In the midst of the Covid crisis, she was on the front lines as an essential worker in a nursing home and, after earning her license as a pharmacy technician, worked for the New Jersey Vaccine Team.

“Balancing school, dealing with COVID cases, and administering the vaccine was very hard. I am grateful to have had some great teachers like Professor Carol Bork [Honors English], who made the experience more enjoyable,” Agyeman said.

Returning to in-person campus life this year has been a joy for Agyeman. She continued all her activities and added a few more. She served as vice president of outreach for SGA and as a second-year SGA senator. She was an active member of PTK, the Mercer Anti-Racism Club, and the Honors Club. She helped to organize an SGA event on mental health for students. 

Agyeman was selected for the Dr. Constance Colon-Jones Business Administration Scholarship last year from the MCCC Foundation and will receive the Fred Anker Memorial Scholarship at Honors Convocation next week. She is a four-star PTK awardee. She will attend Howard University in the fall, majoring in Economics and minoring in International Relations and Comparative Politics.


Angel Agyeman


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