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Students and Donors Honored at Scholarship Reception


West Windsor, N.J. – There were hugs and handshakes all around, as Mercer County Community College celebrated its high-achieving students and generous donors at the Honors Recognition Reception for Continuing Students on Oct. 30.

Students, families and friends packed the cafeteria on the West Windsor campus, where administrators and donors presented 127 scholarships to assist students as they pursue their studies at Mercer.

In her words of welcome, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue acknowledged both the accomplishments of students and the vital support of their families.  “We are so grateful to parents, to spouses and to friends, who help our students achieve their goals,”she said.

“Keep learning," Dr. Donohue advised.  "I have seen you here tonight.  I expect to see you at graduation.” The audience responded with enthusiastic applause.

Among those with plenty of reasons to cheer was the Hicks family.  Celina, the third of three Hicks sisters who have attended Mercer, is in her second year studying vocal and instrumental music and was the recipient of this year’s Instrumental Music Award.  Her father Tim says his daughters are the first in his and his wife’s family to attend college. "Mercer has a special place in our hearts," he said.

The event gave many students an opportunity to meet their scholarship donors.  Aviation Flight Technology student Wisdom Agyei, the recipient of the Lance F. Hansen Memorial Scholarship, was delighted to be able to thank Kelly Hansen and her son, Brian.  Agyei, who grew up in Africa, is embracing his dream to become a pilot, one that he has nurtured since he was nine-years-old and was given a book about the science of flight.

The Hansens were equallly pleased to meet Agyei. According to Kelly Hansen, “My sons and I wanted to do something in Lance's memory.  He was a corporate pilot and was passionate about flying. We live locally and knew this would be a great way to honor him.  He was always interested in mentoring young pilots,” she said.

Another high-achiever was Architecture student Amaury Nicasio Jr., who received three awards.  He was able to thank two of the donors who are helping him achieve his goals, retired architects Jamil Faridy and David Fraytak, each of whom have established a scholarship for outstanding students and are active members of the college’s Foundation Board.  Nicasio serves as president of the MCCC Architecture Club and plans to transfer for his bachelor's degree after Mercer.

Plant Science student Rachele Weintraub also received multiple awards, including the Dowd Fessler Scholarship for outstanding achievement in Biology and the Marquand Park Scholarship for achievement in Horticulture.  She was selected by MCCC’s 2013 Distinguished Teacher Amy Ricco for the Distinguished Teacher Scholarship. Weintraub is planning to transfer to Delaware Valley College after earning her MCCC degree to study Entomology and Geology.

Physical Therapist Assistant student Amanda Bower attended the event with her mother, Cheryl.  The recipient of one of two scholarships from Roma Bank, which the bank established for students pursuing careers in the Health Professions, Bower says that she has wanted a career in the medical field since high school, when she volunteered at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton. “I like helping people.  I am very glad to be studying in the PTA program,” Bower said. She is looking forward to working in the field following graduation.

MCCC's Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management (HRIM) program again partnered with local restaurants and food service companies to cover costs for 10 students’ chefs whites, as well as additional college costs. Participating companies included Agricola, Blue Bottle Café, Elements, Mercer Oaks Catering, Nassau Inn, RC Fine Foods, Sysco Foods, Terra Momo Restaurant Group, and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

Much to the delight of culinary students, the youngest guest at the event was the infant daughter of Rory Philipson, adjunct instructor and owner of the Blue Bottle Café in Hopewell. The popular restauranteur has been a donor to HRIM program since 2007. Philipson selected Pamela Ballard for this year's award.

Other donors who took the time to come out and congratulate student recipients were: Marcy Beck for the Fessler-Dowd Biology Laboratory Excellence Scholarship; Robert Bonnazi for the Bonazzi Foundation, which supports future science teachers; HelenMarie Dolton for the Mary Scarano Nursing Scholarship; Foundation Board member Jim Faridy for Architecture students; David Fraytak, also for Architecture students; Nadia Kopcho for the Ronald J. Kopcho Memorial Scholarship, presented to a student studying psychology; and Dr. Thomas Wilfrid, President of the Professors Emeriti Association and Executive Director of the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, which support students studying Nursing and other health professions.

Anshanae Peterson, second from left, and Kaniya D'Haiti received Boys & Girls Club Scholarships. They are pictured with Executive Dean Dr. Diane Campbell, far left, and President Patricia C. Donohue.
Horticulture students, second from left to right, Diane Shonyo, Tre Foster, and Jo Ann Nalavade were among six students to receive scholarships from the Dogwood Garden Club. They are pictured with President Patricia C. Donohue, far left, Horticulture Program Coordinator Amy Ricco, second from right, and Dean of Liberal Arts Robin Schore.
Adjunct instructor and donor Rory Philipson, left, introduces her daughter to MCCC. Also pictured are Chef Frank Benowitz and student Pam Ballard, the recipient of the Blue Bottle Cafe scholarship.

Current student Celina Hicks, center, is pictured with her oldest sister, Cheryl, an MCCC alumna who now works as a lead business analyst for the New Jersey Department of Children and Family, and their father, Tim. Middle sister Melody, who is completing her bachelor's degree at The College of New Jersey, is also a Mercer grad.

Architecture student Amaury Nicasio was the recipient of multiple scholarships, including one presented by donor Dave Fraytak, second from left. Also pictured are Dean of Business Winston Maddox and President Patricia C. Donohue.
Aviation student Wisdom Agyei with donor Brian Hansen. Also pictured are Dean of Business Winston Maddox, far left, and President Patricia C. Donohue.
From left, Assistant Vice President Susan Zambrio, students Chantel Ramsey (Nursing), Darryl Slicks (Physical Therapist Assistant), and Norma Coles (Physical Therapist Assistant), Dr. Tom Wilfrid, Executive Director of the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation and President of the MCCC Professors Emeriti Association, and President Patrica C. Donohue.
Julia Galayda is pictured with donor Robert Bonazzi, whose foundation supports students pursuing careers as science educators. Also pictured are President Patricia C. Donohue and Dean of Liberal Arts Robin Schore.
Plant Science major Rachele Weintraub received multiple awards, including the Dowd-Fessler Biology Scholarship, presented by Marcy Beck. Also pictured are President Patricia C. Donohue and Dean of Libera Arts Robin Schore.
Nursing students (second from left to right) Francesca Santiago, Alison Bruschi, Morgan Woroniecki and Kamel Saleh were among nine nursing students to receive scholarships from the Area VII Physicians Group. Also pictured are Interim Director of Nursing Donna Penn, far left, and President Patricia C. Donohue.
Chef Jacket Scholarship recipients are, front row from left, Taylor Biada, Carina De Leon, Young Kim, Kelsey Ischinger and Akino Tomizawa; back row, from left, Business Dean Winston Maddox, Blue Bottle Cafe donor and adjunct instructor Rory Philipson, students Pamela Ballard and Steven Fitch, faculty member Frank Benowitz, student Juan Cobos and President Patricia C. Donohue.
Roma Bank's Madhu Kotta presents Roma Bank Scholarships to PTA students Amanda Bower and Lauren Henke. Also pictured are Assistant Vice President Susan Zambrio, far left, and President Patricia C. Donohue.

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