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MCCC's James Kerney Campus Recognizes
Achievement at Awards Night May 10


Trenton, N.J. - In an event that has come to exemplify the extraordinary role of Mercer County Community College in the lives of so many, MCCC's James Kerney Campus (JKC) recognized the accomplishments of students at its 23rd Annual Celebration of Academic Achievement at Trenton's War Memorial building May 10.

JKC Provost Monica Weaver welcomed an enthusiastic crowd. "Tonight is for the graduates and also for the graduates to thank their family and friends who have helped to make their education possible." Citing the thousands of area residents who have benefited from JKC programs, she noted, "JKC is here to stay!"

Honorees included 60 degree students who started or completed many of their courses at JKC, 32 students earning their GEDs (High School Equivalency), 42 students completing programs at MCCC's Career Training Institute, and 39 earning certificates from the English Language Institute (ELI) for non-native speakers. Twenty-five clients from Home Front and nine from the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, who received instruction at JKC satellite sites, were also among those honored. Numerous students with records of academic excellence were presented with scholarship awards by the MCCC Foundation.

Four students spoke as representatives of their programs. Adult student, Education major Paulette Wright-Parham, recalls feeling "out of place, misplaced and displaced" after being laid off from her job as an accounting supervisor at a local newspaper. Now she is graduating with her associate degree and plans to transfer to Rider University to get a dual bachelor's/master's degree in Education.

Adult student Valerie Barnes also had a lay-off story. Out of work after nine years at Sun Microsystems, she turned to CTI to enhance and expand her technical skills, deciding to add legal secretary to her list of credentials. "I hadn't been to school for years and years," she noted. She started paying closer attention to her writing and learned the latest technology in the Microsoft Office Suite. When she landed a new job as a documentation specialist at General Dynamics, she said, "I started with real confidence. CTI helped me believe in myself."

Speaking on behalf of ELI students was Maris Maryla Malissewska. Having initially attempted to study art at Rider University, she realized she needed to strengthen her language skills first. "We ESL students don't speak perfectly, but we want to change our lives, and the teachers at Mercer help us to reach our goals," she said. Maliszewska recalled her determined efforts to master English, which included carrying a dictionary everywhere, watching American television, and reading children's books. With her sights now set on returning to Rider to study art and architecture, she hopes to one day teach English to other non-native speakers. "I am thankful for the chance to study my new language at Mercer," she said.

Representing the GED graduates was student Anthony Tillman, who was finishing up his high school education after dropping out in 11th grade. "Education is so important in today's society," Tillman said. "Education doesn't just stop when you graduate high school or get your GED diploma. That's just the beginning of the road, but it's a big step toward the future."

Three faculty members were recognized for going above and beyond to help students: Assistant Biology Professor Linda Gaylo, and her husband Christopher, who teaches for JKC's Youth College, and Assistant Psychology Professor, Dr. Matthew Giobi.

Keynote speaker for the evening was MCCC faculty member, Dr. Eric Watson, who teaches English and African American History. In his remarks he shared advice from his grandmother. "Don't wait to be discovered and don't assume that doors are closed to you," he advised. "Don't be afraid to take risks or be criticized. It doesn't matter how many times you fall down; it's how many times you get up. Be quiet enough so that you can recognize the genuine in yourself and then you will hear it in other people." He concluded by recalling the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., noting that while not everyone can be famous, everyone can be great through service.

MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue had her own words of congratulationst to add. "We are thrilled that you are graduating and taking your place as productive members of Mercer County." She told students to enjoy their success. "You've worked hard and learned a lot. But after the celebration, continue learning and never stop. You can always count on Mercer to be your home."

Also participating were MCCC Associate Communications Professor Alvyn Haywood and former Board Chair Rev. William Coleman.





JKC graduates accept congratulations from college leaders.
Winner of the Arthur J. Holland Scholarship, presented to a Trenton resident in honor of the former Trenton major, is continuing MCCC student Alfonso Rosado, second from left. He is pictured with, from left, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue, Foundation Board member and adjunct instructor Tom Kull, and Vice President for College Advancement Mellissia Zanjani.
Maris Maryla Malissewska, of Poland, shared her experiences
as a student in the English Language Institute.
The ceremony began with a flag procession by
members of the Trenton Central High School ROTC.
GED grads Vera Palmer, left, and Shantel Rogers
celebrate their big night. Rogers has already
begun her college studies at MCCC.

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