MCCC Celebrates Its Remarkable, Resilient Grads

Classes of 2020 and 2021 Are Forever In Our Hearts



Daniel Adomina: ‘It’s YOUR Education…Give It Your All’
Class of 2021
A.S., Business Administration

Daniel Adomina, of Hamilton, enrolled at Mercer in January 2020, just two months before the COVID shutdown. He came to MCCC after serving in the Marines for several years. Originally from Ghana, Daniel has made education a priority, as has his brother, Joshua, who graduates with him. Both have earned their A.S. degrees in Business Administration.

Daniel will transfer to Princeton University to study international relations and public policy. His brother will transfer to Cornell University to continue his studies.

Adomina credits his professors and fellow students with helping him succeed and says he benefited from every class he took. “I went to one of the best community colleges in the state and the country. At Mercer we worked harder."

He was encouraged to apply to Princeton by Business Professor Laura Sosa and classmate Jerry Katty, also a former Marine, who will attend Harvard University this fall. "I’ve had so much support and good will from everyone throughout my journey at Mercer. I have a lot to be grateful for," Adomina said.

Adomina advises other students to "put yourself out there and engage with others. Give it your all, whether you are at community college or your transfer school. At the end of the day, it’s your education. It will end up being what you want it to be.”

Ivania Asencio: ‘I Was Able to Figure Out My Interests and My Identity’
Class of 2020
A.A., Psychology

Ivania Asencio, of Trenton, graduated from MCCC in Spring 2020 and then transferred to Princeton University (PU), where she has spent the past year continuing her studies in Psychology.

This summer, Asencio is back on familiar turf as a camp counselor at Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) in Trenton, where she has worked every summer since 2015. She also worked there as part of the tutoring and childcare staff while she attended Mercer.

“Mercer is a flexible environment that gave me a chance to attend college and also have time to work and have other experiences,” Asencio said. “Working with young people at CYO first sparked my interest in psychology.”

Among the skills Asencio developed at Mercer was time management. “I would do my homework on campus and then go to work. I was able to build my resume and figure out my interests and my identity.”

Asencio spent her first semester at Princeton studying from home and then moved on campus this past spring, but continued to learn remotely. "Mercer provided me with a solid academic foundation. It was scary making the leap from community college to the Ivy League. But once you are there, you understand it's not the education that's so different; it's the environment and the opportunities," she said.

Ascencio is pleased to learn that more Mercer students will transfer to PU this fall and recently got to talk to them through a group chat for transfer students. "Princeton does a great job of helping transfer students acclimate during the summer before their first semester," she said.

Currently, Asencio is focused on homelessness and incarceration as part of her psychology studies. “I am particularly interested in correctional psychology and how to rehabilitate those in and out of prison,” she said. She looks forward to doing research on the topic at Princeton this year.

Jessica Bookholdt: 'I Formed Relationships With A Lot of Great Professors'
Class of 2020
A.S., Physics

Jessica Bookholdt, of Hamilton, spoke at the virtual commencement last year. Now a member of Princeton University's Class of 2024, where she is continuing her studies in Physics, Bookholdt has overcome ADHD and financial hardships, and has excelled in the classroom and community.

Starting out at Mercer as a returning adult student intent on studying Radiography, she quickly discovered a passion for physics. Graduating from MCCC with Highest Honors, Bookholdt was a National Science Foundation Scholar, a Mercer Professor Emeriti Association Scholar, and a Professor Betty Cornelius-Wallace Graduating Scholar. She says she "found a home" at MCCC.

"Mercer was definitely a positive experience," Bookholdt said. "I formed relationships with a lot of great professors that will follow me into my career and beyond, and I also made quite a few friends."

Vachelyn Jupiter: 'Highly Motivated Leader'
Class of 2020
A.S., Biology

Vachelyn Jupiter, of Hamilton, came to MCCC as an NJ STARS student from Hamilton High School North in the spring of 2017. She earned her A.S. in Biology in January 2020.

Jupiter fully embraced her Mercer experience by serving as vice president of the Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF). She excelled academically and was inducted into Alpha Theta Gamma, Mercer’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, in the spring of 2018.

Jupiter is a highly motivated leader who has worked tirelessly to make a difference in her community by coordinating and participating in a variety of service projects. She has transferred to Rutgers University to study Public Health.

Luisa Quezada: 'My Education Is Not a Race'
Class of 2021
A.S., Chemistry; A.S., Physics

Luisa Quezada has always had many interests and a profound love for learning. When it came time to attend college at MCCC, she narrowed her focus to study what she loved most: math and science. Originally from Guatemala, she says her father was her main champion. “Because of him, I set myself the goal to come to study in the United States and get my degree,” she said. In May, was selected by the Chemistry faculty for a scholarship from the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society to continue her education. 

Quezada has much to celebrate, even after a year of shutdown. She will transfer to Rutgers University in the fall, where she plans to complete her bachelor’s degree. Interested in a career in laboratory research and college level teaching, she hopes to one day attend graduate school.

Quezada acknowledges that she has faced numerous challenges along the way, but she is not deterred. “My education is not a race. The only person I can compare myself to is the person I was yesterday and if I’m just a little bit better than who I was then, I’m on a path that will surely lead me to success,” she said.

Brian Samayoa: 'Not Afraid to Explore the Unknown'
Class of 2020
A.S., Engineering; A.S., Mathematics

Brian Samayoa, of Hamilton, enrolled at Mercer in the fall of 2017 after graduating from Hamilton High School North. Driven by a strong work ethnic and unwavering intellectual curiosity, Samayoa was not afraid to tackle even the toughest academic challenges and explore the unknown to come up with the answers. In recognition of academic excellence, he was inducted into Alpha Theta Gamma, Mercer’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

He earned degrees in Engineering and Math in May 2020 and is currently studying Aerospace Engineering at his transfer school, the Florida Institute of Technology.

Cindy Treyger: 'The Education and Training Were Excellent'
Class of 2020
A.A.S., Aviation Flight Technology

In 2017, Cindy Treyger decided to pursue her long-held dream of becoming a pilot when her husband, Gennadiy, decided to take flight lessons at MCCC. Having spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force as a Russian linguist, Treyger had left the military in 2006 and was a stay-at-home mom raising three young sons.

Fast forward to December 2019 and Treyger was completing her A.A.S. degree in Aviation Flight Technology and about to pursue a certificate as a flight instructor. A standout student, she was one of just a handful of women in the program. Her plans came to an abrupt halt during the pandemic shutdown.

“At that point, the Aviation Department contacted me to see if I would be interested in teaching a couple of the classes online," she recalled. "It was a perfect fit, a job that allowed me to stay home with my children during the pandemic, while still keeping my foot in the aviation world.” 

Treyger says she is happy to have gone to Mercer. “The education and training were excellent, and I know that, even having to take an extended break from flying, I have a strong base and will be able to get back into it.”

Patricia Vieira: ‘Mercer Showed Me a Path I Never Contemplated Before’
Class of 2021
A.A., Education

Patricia Vieira came to the United States from Brazil as an au pair five years ago and found an educational landscape that has far exceeded her expectations. Graduating with an A.A. in Education, she has also discovered a second love: chemistry.

Vieira has not let the pandemic slow her down. This year, she served as president of Alpha Theta Gamma, Mercer’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was named to the 2021 All-State Academic Team. Even with online learning, Vieira says she had a good experience.

“I had really good professors who made sure that just because it was online, it wasn’t going to be a barrier to learning. It sure was challenging, but I learned a lot. I got a lot more than I expected,” Vieira said.

Her diligence and achievements have been rewarded. In the fall, she will attend Princeton University, joining several others from MCCC’s Class of 2021. First accepted to Smith College as an Education major with a generous scholarship, she learned on May 13 that she had been accepted to Princeton.

“That just changed all my plans – career plans and academic plans," Vieira said, adding that she will seek a career path that balances her love for education with her love for chemistry.

"I was able to get in the best school in the country," Vieira said. And she did it coming from Mercer County Community College.

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Daniel Adomina '21 (A.S., Business Administration)


Ivania Asencio '20 (A.A., Psychology)



Jessica Bookholdt '20 (A.S., Physics)


Vachelyn Jupiter '20 (A.S., Biology)


Luisa Quezada '21 (A.S., Chemistry; A.S., Physics)


Brian Samayoa '20 (A.S., Physics; A.S., Mathematics)


Cindy Treyger '20 (A.A.S., Aviation Flight Technology)


Patricia Vieira '21 (A.S., Psychology)