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NJ PLACE Spells Success for Two MCCC Grads

West Windsor, N.J. - Two recent graduates of Mercer County Community College have proven without a doubt that work experience counts. William Dargan ('10) and Donte Boyer ('10), both of whom earned their associate in applied science degrees in Technical Studies, have taken full advantage of NJ PLACE (New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education), a program that creates flexible opportunities for skilled trade workers to earn their college degrees.

Working with the state's 19 community colleges, NJ PLACE was established in 2004 to enable skilled trade workers to utilize their apprentice education for college credits - from 3 to as many as 25 towards their associate degrees. That was a huge boost for Boyer and Dargan, who were both awarded the full 25 credits. The two are among 84 students statewide participating in this innovative initiative.

Boyer, a journeyman carpenter with Princeton Carpenters Local 781, will continue his education this fall at Rutgers University's School of Management and Labor Relations. Dargan, a steam fitter for Local 475, completed his coursework in December and is currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in Organizational Management in an accelerated program at Somerset Christian College. He expects to graduate later this month.

Donte Boyer ('10) earned credits towards his
degree through NJ PLACE program.

A Trenton native and journeyman carpenter, Boyer decided to return to the classroom in his 30s. "I felt I needed a college degree in order to advance in the construction industry and in the union," said Boyer. "With NJ PLACE, skilled trade workers see that a college degree is within their reach."

Dargan, of North Brunswick, studied at other institutions and also served in the military before returning to college at Mercer. He credits his coursework with providing him valuable insights into group dynamics, a perspective that has enriched him professionally and personally. He is contemplating various management career options. "Everything comes together for a reason," Dargan said. "I am thankful to have been able to benefit from NJ PLACE and the doors that have opened for me and others."

According to Dee Smith-Johns, MCCC's NJ PLACE coordinator, both men have made the most of this opportunity. "Donte and Bill have a strong will to succeed no matter what they undertake," she said. "Each truly symbolizes the spirit and intent of NJ PLACE. The concept of college credit for apprenticeship experience is brand new territory. Lifelong learning and professional advancement is what it is all about."

NJ PLACE has established agreements with the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters; the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Association of Bridge Structural Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers; and the New Jersey Department of Corrections. The program will continue to expand its agreements in order to reach as many potential students as possible.

This year, the initiative was further enhanced with the passing of a state amendment that allows NJ PLACE students who complete their associate degree to transfer their credits to New Jersey's four-year public colleges and universities.

Learn more about NJ PLACE here.

For more information about MCCC's Technical Studies degree program, click here or contact Dee Smith-Johns at (609) 570-3449 or via email at johnsd@mccc.edu.

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