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Top Graduates Celebrated at MCCC’s Honors Convocation 2022


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West Windsor, N.J. – With countless hours of hard work behind them, top grads at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) were able to bask in their accomplishments on May 20 as the college recognized more than 100 students during its 2022 Honors Convocation. This special ceremony, held at Kelsey Theatre prior to commencement, recognized top achievers from diverse MCCC disciplines and programs, as well as those with exemplary service to the college community. Students received certificates, awards and scholarships funded through generous college donors.

Joining in the celebration were administrators, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, family members and friends. Prior to the ceremony all enjoyed music provided by students Matthew C. Gargiullo, David A. Greiff and Nathaniel C. Perrucci. Intervals of music continued throughout the program.

In her opening remarks, MCCC Acting President Dr. Barbara Basel congratulated the honors class of 2022 and emphasized the accomplishments of the graduates. “You are students who are not afraid of challenges, who have big dreams and the ability and drive to achieve them. You are truly Mercer superstars.” Basel commended the student achievers who reached the highest of standards even through a global pandemic.

Basel continued, “Your goals are wide-ranging, but you are connected by your work ethic, your curiosity, your courage, your critical thinking skills, and your determination. I encourage you to be ambitious in your goals throughout your educational and professional lives. We need leaders like you.” 

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Following Basel, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Robert Schreyer introduced the 2022 Master of Ceremonies and Coordinator of Physical Therapist Assistant Program, Dr. Holly Kaiser, who was the recipient of MCCC’s 2021 Distinguished Teaching Award.

Kaiser explained the purpose of the ceremony and acknowledged that the scholarships and other monetary awards presented at the convocation were contributed by generous and loyal friends of Mercer County Community College.

Students were escorted down stage by faculty program coordinators. Deans presented the awards while Basel, Schreyer and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. James H. Whitney III, among others, offered congratulations.

Fifteen Business, Technology and Professional Studies Division students received Outstanding Achievement Awards. Among them was Business Administration graduate Angel Agyeman, the recipient of the Fred Anker Memorial Scholarship. She was a four-star Phi Theta Kappa (the international honor society for community colleges) student and will attend Howard University in the fall, majoring in Economics and minoring in International Relations and Comparative Politics.

In the Liberal Arts Division, 13 students received Outstanding Achievement awards in disciplines such as music, psychology, sociology, communication and history, to name but a few. Two Liberal Arts students won multiple awards. Katherine I. Velez earned both the Forman and Sloshberg Memorial Scholarship in Liberal Arts and the Ronald J. Kopcho Memorial Scholarship in Psychology. Ashley M. Jackson was awarded Outstanding Achievement in both Liberal Arts and Sociology.

In the Math, Science and Health Professions Division eight students received Outstanding Achievement awards with standout student, Mykhaylo Yanchyk, receiving  the William Dowd Biology Award, an Excellence in Chemistry Scholarship and an Excellence in Organic Chemistry Scholarship. Yanchyk will spend another year at MCCC in the Medical Laboratory Technology program before transferring for his bachelor’s degree. 

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Ashley A. Taylor, was the top Horticulture/Plant Science graduate, receiving the Clarence and Lena DiDonato Memorial Scholarship, Rocky Brook Garden Club Scholarship, Nature Conservation Award, and Outstanding Achievement Award in Plant Science.

Promptly following the Academic Awards presentations, MCCC class of 2022  Honors Convocation student speaker Bryan Quinteros addressed the graduates and attendees with an inspirational speech about perseverance and overcoming adversity. He said, “Adversity is part of the human condition. Those who accept it learn from it and push forward instead of dwelling in the past are the most successful.” Quoting President Calvin Coolidge, Quinteros said, “The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race. Thus, Class of 2022, we press on.” Quinteros received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Criminal Justice and an Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) Achievement Award from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education along with five other EOF students. The Equal Opportunity Fund is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful state-supported efforts to provide access to higher education to qualified students in the State of New Jersey.

Service and Activity Awards were presented by Executive Dean for Student Support Services (interim), Dr. Tonia Perry-Conley. Scholar-athletes Lizauris Angelina Alers (Soccer and Softball) and Brandon Guios (Lacrosse) received Forman Athletic Memorial Scholarships. Anthony Wilk (Baseball) received the Dr. Cynthia Schaffer Memorial Scholarship.  

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Seventeen students were recognized for their service and academic excellence and received New Jersey Stars (NJ STARS) scholarships. (NJ STARS is a state-sponsored scholarship program that is specifically designed for community college students.) Twenty-one grads were saluted for achievements in the MCCC Honors program, and 12 were recognized for Community Builder Awards. 

Scholarships from the Albert B. Kahn Foundation were presented to three graduates from each degree program: A.A., A.S., and A.A.S.  

Honors Convocation was also an opportunity for Mercer’s Phi Theta Kappa students to shine. Nine members of the Mercer Chapter earned 5-Star Awards, four students earned 4-Star Awards, and one student earned a 3-Star Award. Two graduates, Sukhdeep Sudan and Mykhaylo Yanchyk, were MCCC’s 2022 representatives on the All-USA New Jersey Community College Academic Team, an awards program supported by Phi Theta Kappa. 

Vice President of College Advancement and Executive Director of the MCCC Foundation Joseph Claffey thanked all the generous donors for their support and Whitney concluded with a few final remarks to graduates, “This is an important journey for you. We honor you and celebrate your achievement.” 

The ceremony closed with a huge round of applause. 

 

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