N.J. -- Gray skies loomed overhead as the 45th annual commencement
ceremonies of Mercer County Community College got underway
on May 24. But clouds did not dim the joy and excitement of
graduates, faculty, administrators, family and friends who
came out to the West Windsor campus quad to celebrate this
major milestone in graduates' lives.
"You've been challenged in ways you've never expected,"
Board Chair Mark Matzen said."Now you've made it: you're
a graduate." A total of 1,098 students received diplomas
and certifications during this academic year.
Keynote speaker, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, inspired the audience
with stories from his own famly history. His father, born
in poverty in the 1930s in the Deep South, was only able to
go to college and later get a good job through the financial
and emotional support of the residents of the town where he
"My family never let me take the opportunities I had
for granted," Booker told the crowd. "They would
remind me that the degree I held came from the blood, sweat
and tears of my ancestors." He added that his family
would often remind him: "You sit in the shade of the
trees planted by others."
Booker described his experience of becoming the mayor of Newark,
learning to see the problems and obstacles of the city as
challenges and opportunities. "There is one choice we
have in every second of our existence: to accept things as
they are, or to take responsibility to change them."
He urged MCCC grads to embrace the challenges and responsbilities
that await them.
MCCC President Patricia Donohue proudly credited students
for their many accomplishments over the past year, including
giving back to the community through service projects and
fundraisers. She praised The College VOICE newspaper
students for receiving 14 journalism awards, and the women's
tennis team for earning second place at the national tournament.
She also congratulated Mercer's 29 international graduates,
who hailed from countries including Brazil, Chile, Malaysia,
Germany, Peru and Trinidad.
Also among Dr. Donohue comments were the college's plans to
expand at the Trenton campus and the installation of a solar
energy project on the West Windsor campus that will reduce
pollution, save on energy costs and provide real world learning
MCCC Communications Associate Professor Kathi Paluscio was
selected as the recipient of this year's Distinguished Teaching
Award. The winner of the award is chosen by students, faculty
and staff, and is kept secret until Commencement day.
for her extraordinary ability to motivate students, Paluscio
observed, "There is nothing I've ever done on this campus
that would have been possible without the mentorship of the
She recalled her own college graduation and how her friends
and family consistently followed their congratulatory remarks
with questions about what she had planned for the future,
while she just wanted to bask in the glory of the moment for
a little while. It was only later that she realized they were
paying her the ultimate compliment. "They just want to
get a hint of that next exciting chapter in your life."
Paluscio noted that while seeing students graduate is bittersweet
for the faculty members who have mentored them, "we have
high hopes for what you will accomplish. I believe that all
of you here today are like an amazing adventure story. My
life pales in comparison to yours."
Sixty-two-year-old Norman Glover, of East Windsor, was the
ceremony's student speaker. A Vietnam veteran who earned a
Purple Heart for his military service, Glover dropped out
of high school in eleventh grade to join the army. He earned
his GED while in the army and delayed college until middle-age.
"No one is more surprised to see me up here than I am,"
he said, adding that the loss of his trucking job during the
recession was what inspired him to finally finish his schooling.
"There is no elevator to success; you have to take the
stairs," Glover said.
Studying at Mercer while raising a family, Glover earns his
associate degree in Business Management. He is the vice president
of All Chemical Transport in Lakewood.
graduation stories, click here.
Prior to commencement ceremonies, the college hosted an Honors
Convocation where hundreds of awards and scholarships were
presented to high achieving students, including endowed scholarships
funded by community donors.
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