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MCCC Honors Convocation Celebrates Graduates' Achievement


West Windsor, N.J. - During Honors Convocation, which preceded commencement on May 20, the college celebrated its highest-achieving students, awarding 74 academic certificates and scholarships, and recognizing 21 Phi Theta Kappa graduates, 37 NJ STARS graduates, and 13 Honors Program graduates.

Who are these stellar grads? They are a diverse group -- in age, ethnicity and gender -- reflecting the fascinating melting pot that is Mercer County Community College. With the MCCC Honors Program now well-establised, this year saw a large increase in the number of students who graduated with this designation. Also notable were the number of students who graduated through the NJ STARS program. Here are a few of their stories.

Crutches Do Not Hinder Achievement

Crutches barely slowed down Colleen Rovelli as she made her way to the stage to accept the award for outstanding achievement in Business Management. For Rovelli the crutches were symbolic of a long, hard journey to graduation day.

Back in 2004, working full time and raising two children, Rovelli started taking one or two classes at Mercer each semester with the goal of enhancing her skills. Life intervened and she was forced to suspend her education for a time. Then in fall 2009, she got serious about completing her degree. Having always wanted to open her own business, Rovelli said, “I decided I was going to do this for me.”

The youngest of nine siblings from Newfoundland, Canada, Rovelli is the first in her family to earn a college degree. She credits a group of MCCC professors with giving her a huge helping hand. “They became like family to me, giving me advice and encouragement,” Rovelli said. “They gave me the strength to push harder when things got tough. They put me on a path to success. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for these people.”

Colleen Rovelli, center, with, from left, Acting Dean Winston Maddox, Professor Ellen Benowitz, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue and Vice President for Academic Affairs Guy Generals.

A single mom, Rovelli attended the honors ceremony with her 11-year-old son, Domenic, and her fiancé, Rick McCall. Her message to single mothers? “Never give up,” she said. “The more that happened to me, the more determined I became.”

In addition to her post as an administrative assistant at an engineering firm, Rovelli plans to start a catering business this summer that will feature some of the recipes of her native Newfoundland. She is also writing a cookbook memoir about growing up in Newfoundland. “Ever try to pick berries while being chased by a bear?” she asks.

Two Self-Professed "Nerds" Establish Math Club

Ryan Allaire and Scott Schornstaedt are math nerds and proud of it. A year ago, they started the MCCC Math Club under advisor and faculty member Yvonne Greenbaum. Part study group, part social club, they are hopeful it will continue as they both transfer on to Rutgers University to continue their studies.
Allaire and Schornstaedt were both selected to receive Professor Betty Wallace Cornelius Excellence in Mathematics scholarships. Allaire, an NJ STARS graduate, also earned the Academic Affairs Award.

Ryan Allaire, left, and Scott Schornstaed




Hodges Moves from Culinary Field to Science Lab

Formerly in the culinary field, James Hodges III decided it was time for a career change and chose to start again at Mercer. A chemistry major, Hodges completed research and participated in science outreach activities as part of his Mercer experience. "Mercer has been great. I saved money and really got along well with my professors," he said.

Hodges graduates with high honors. He was presented with three academic awards: the MCCC Faculty Association Scholarship in honor of Professor Emeritus David Collier; the Professor Betty Wallace Cornelius Excellence in Mathematics Award; and the Outstanding Achievement in Organic Chemistry Award.
He will continue his education at Rider University as a chemistry-math major. He plans to pursue a graduate degree and work as a research scientist.



James Hodges, center, is pictured with, from left, Professor Linda Bregstein Scherr, scholarship donor Jeffrey Cornelius, Associate Professor Richard Porter, President Patricia C. Donohue and VP Guy Generals.

Former Mechanical Engineer Earns
Radiography Award

Priti Joshi is the recipient of the Mallinkrodt Medical Recognition Award, presented to a radiography graduate for professional excellence in the clinical phase of the program. Raising two children with husband Kartik, she was a stay-at-home mom before returning to school.

She said her academic experience at Mercer was outstanding "I feel confident as I move forward in my career." She credits her husband with providing invaluable support as she tackled the challenging radiography curriculum.

Joshi has a prior degree in mechanical engineering from Mumbai University and previously worked as a design engineer.


Priti Joshi, center, is pictured with, from left, Dean Linda Martin, Radiography Program coordinator Sandra Kerr, President Patricia C. Dohonoue and Vice President Guy Generals.

Inventor is Recipient of
Electronics Engineering Award

Christopher Collins is the recipient of MCCC's Outstanding Achievement in Electronics Engineering Award. He was praised for enhancing program equipment and developing teaching aids.

In addition, he served as treasurer for Mercer's chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society and worked as a reporter and ad manager for the college newspaper.

Collins is a returning adult student who served in the U.S. Air Force for 12 years, most recently as a biomedical equipment repair technician. He graduates with highest honors and will transfer to the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Wife Yvonne says Collins is also an innovator around the house. Among his inventions are mechanisms that allow hanging planters to descend for watering and doors that close electronically.

Chris Collins with wife Yvonne following the honors ceremony at Kelsey Theatre.
Honors Program graduates,from left, Jaime Bravo, Ryan Mark, David Hoyt, Brian Kaplan and Ashley Stumbaugh with Honors Program Coordinators, faculty members Giana Durso-Finley and Carol Bork, and President Patricia C. Donohue, far right.

Not pictured: Leo Capoferri, Piers Duffel, Sarah Fodor, Sara Gatling, Edwin Harmor, Daisuke Katsumata, Yu Lung Law, Adrienne Sherwin and Kent Watanabe.
PTK guaduates with VP Guy Generals, far left, and President Patriciia C. Donohue, far right.
NJ STARS graduates with Dean Diane Campbell, far left, and President Patricia C. Donohue, far right.


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