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MCCC Celebrates Student Achievement
And Donor Generosity at Recognition Ceremony


West Windsor, N.J. – In a celebratory event that recognized both the academic achievements of students and the generosity of donors, Mercer County Community College welcomed approximately 150 guests to the Student Center at the West Windsor campus for the Continuing Student Recognition Ceremony on Oct. 16.  In addition to scholarship recipients and their family members, Foundation Board members, administrators, faculty, staff, and donors came out in support of educational opportunities at Mercer.

A total of 124 awards were presented, with several students receiving more than one award. MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue welcomed the guests, noting the number of family members and friends in attendance.  “It’s great to see the parents, children and friends of the honorees here tonight.  You are the network that supports our students as they learn and grow,” she said.

Dr. Donohue also acknowledged the critical role of donors who make education possible for many students.  “They share our mission that Mercer is a great place for students to start their educational journey.”

Tracy Antozzeski, who represented the James Tolin Memorial Fund, was proud to have the opportunity to present a scholarship to Jonathan Cintron, who is pursuing degrees in both Theatre and Music.  JTMF presents performances at Kelsey Theatre each year to fund the scholarship. “We do it for James,” said Antozzeski, who was a friend of the talented James Tolin, who died in 2002.   A second student, Amariss White, was also awarded a JTMF Scholarship.

Welsey Franken, a full-time student in Ornamental Horticulture, was the recipient of the Clarence and Lena DiDonato Memorial Scholarship.  Currently employed by Ostrich Nursery, he plans to transfer next year to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Forest Science.  He recently joinedh is local volunteer fire department.  “The Horticulture program was a great choice for me,” Franken said.  Wesley’s parents, Joe and Kim, who accompanied him to the event, are also enthusiastic about their son’s Mercer experience.  “He is putting it all together to achieve his goals,” his mother said.

Joann Mia, who is the coordinator of the MCCC Learning Center at the Trenton campus, was a beaming grandmother as her granddaughter, Alicea Eskeitz, accepted the Arthur J. Holland Scholarship.  An alumna herself, Mia encouraged her granddaughter, who hails from the Pocono Mountain region, to come to Mercer.  “She loves it.  She is a city girl,” Mia said. “I am so proud of her. I was the first to go to college in my family and she is following right behind me.”

Eskeitz, a Humanities major, was recently inducted into the Psi Beta Psychology Honors Society.  She hopes to combine her love for children with a passion for art and photography by working with young people as an art therapist.

Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management (HRIM) program students continue to benefit from multiple sources of donor generosity. The Chef Anne Lumberger Memorial Scholarship was presented to Natalie Russano; the Laurenti Charitable Trust Scholarship was awarded to Nareerat Rattanachaisuwan; and the Merrill Lynch Hospitality Scholarship was presented to Christie Gonzalez. 

The HRIM program again partnered with local restaurants and food service companies to cover costs for 11 students’ chefs whites, as well as additional college costs. Participating companies included Blue Bottle Café, Ergo Chef LLC, Elements, Griggstown Farm, Mercer Oaks Catering, Nassau Inn, RC Fine Foods, Sysco Foods, Terra Momo Restaurant Group, Tre Piani and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

Rory Philipson, owner of the Blue Bottle Café in Hopewell and a donor to culinary students since 2007, chose Ray Montero as the recipient of her restaurant’s generosity.  An adjunct instructor now teaching two classes with Chef Bill Byer, she has seen Montero at work in the MCCC kitchen as the shop steward, coordinating and consolidating the student chefs’ requests.  “His extra effort is evident. He goes the extra mile,” Philipson said. She added that the culinary programs Chef Doug Fee has built "are awesome."

Other donors who made the time to come out and shake hands with their student recipients included: 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; Jim Floyd, who presented the Jim and Fannie Floyd Education Scholarship; Nadia Kopcho and family for the Ronald J. Kopcho Memorial Scholarship, presented to a student studying psychology; Dr. John Santosuosso, vice president of the Professors Emeriti Association, who presented scholarships to two students; and Dr. Thomas Wilfrid for the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation’s support of students studying Nursing and other health professions.

Humanities student Alicea Eskeitz with proud grandmom Joann Mia, coordinator of the Trenton Campus Learning Center.
Professor Emerita and retired Chair of the Nursing Program HelenMarie Dolton presented the Mary Mary Scarano Nursing Scholarship to Nicole Doram.

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Robert Bonazzi, left, presented the Bonazzi Foundation Scholarship to Robert Albertson III. They are pictured with MCCC President Patricia Donohue.
HRIM students selected for Chef Jacket Partnership Scholarships, with faculty members Frank Benowitz and Doug Fee (back row), Vice President for Academic Affairs Guy Generals, far left, and President Patricia Donohue, right.
Advertising Design student Erika Morillo, center, and family, with donor Jim Floyd.
Nadia Kopcho, center, and her family, present the Ronald Kopcho Memorial Scholarship to Nicole Tyburczy. President Donohue is pictured at right.
From left, Rory Philips, owner of the Blue Bottle Cafe, with scholarship recipient Ray Montero and President Donohue.
Jonathan Cintron was one of two recipients of awards from the James Tolin Memorial Fund, represented by Tracy Antozzeski. They are pictured with President Donohue.
Horticulture student Wesley Franken with Program Coordinator Amy Ricco, second from left, and parents Kim and Joe Franken.