Honors Convocation Celebrates
Efforts of High-Achieving Grads


MCCC's high achieving graduates were honored at the annual Honors Convocation prior to graduation on May 21. Students with top grade point averages were selected for a variety of awards and scholarships for overall academic excellence and achievements in specific disciplines.

In welcoming the graduates, families and friends who gathered for the ceremony at Kelsey Theatre, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue said, "Mercer is all about learning and student success. We thank these students for their diligence and integrity in learning. The gifts we present today are tokens to students of honor and responsibility." Dr. Donohue also acknowledged the important role of supportive families, and the efforts of MCCC faculty and staff. Communications Professor Alvyn Haywood served as master of ceremonies for the event.

Among the distinguished graduates from the Class of 2009:

Matthew Rossi, an NJ STARS student, received four honors including the Outstanding Achievement Award in Political Science, an Academic Affairs Award, an Abrams Foundation Scholarship and an Albert B. Kahn Foundation Scholarship. Rossi will continue his studies at Rutgers University, majoring in Political Science. He plans to be a lawyer. He is pictured with Sociology Professor Guy DeRosa.
Chrysti Neuman was selected for the WZBN TV Scholarship. Neuman served as president of the MCTV Club and was a producer and director for the college cable station, including directing the award-winning live broadcast of the Mercer Co. High School Basketball Championships. Neuman will transfer to Montclair State for her bachelor's degree in television production. She is pictured with faculty member Steve Voorhees.
Colin Stewart earned the Aviation Flight Technology Achievement Award. Stewart was co-captain of Mercer's award-winning flight team and will work as a flight instructor in the MCCC Aviation program in the fall. Planning to become a pilot for a commercial airline or cargo company, he says his Mercer degree will give him an advantage. "Mercer has an established reputation of excellence among regional airlines." He is pictured with Aviation Program Coordinator Joe Blasenstein.
Melissa Szasz received the Physical Therapist Assistant Leadership Scholarship. Juggling a demanding curriculum while raising three children, Szasz says she enjoyed every physical therapy setting in which she trained, and she is excited to begin work after taking the certification exam. As president of the PTA Class of 2009, Szasz organized numerous service activities. She is pictured with PTA Program Coordinator Barbara Behrens.

Four students were recognized as Honors Program Scholars: from left, Kelly Lynn Wittkop, who will complete her bachelor's degree in Special Education at The College of New Jersey with a concentration in early intervention for autism and Down syndrome; Kristin M. Boka, who will transfer to The College of New Jersey to major in secondary education and Spanish; Susana M. Sanchez, editor-in-chief of MCCC's award-winning College Voice student newspaper, who will transfer with a full scholarship to Hampshire College to pursue an independent major combining economics and sociology; and (not pictured) Michael Kay, president of the MCCC Philosophy Club, who will major in Philosophy at Rutgers University and hopes to become a lawyer. They are pictured with Honors Program Coordinator Carol Bork.

Waka Petrillo, second from left, and Pazit Kaplan earned scholarships from the NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants. Both plan to continue their studies at The College of New Jersey with the goal of becoming CPAs. They are pictured with faculty member Kenneth Horowitz and NJSCPA's Lisa Thouin.

Three students were recognized for their combined efforts in academics and athletics.
Baseball short stop Jason Zegarski, second from left, and soccer goalie Heidi Summers were selected as the Male and Female Scholar-Athletes for 2009 and were presented with Dr. Cynthia Schaffer Memorial Scholarships. Tennis player Katrina E. Brophy was the recipient of the Mercer County Women's Tennis Academic Achievement Award. Also pictured are presenters Steve Ritzau, far left, and MCCC Athletics Director John Simone.

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