Alumni In the News
Middlesex County College Student Receives Award Named for Late Professor
From left: College President Joann La Perla-Morales, Halimat Oshun, Pattiann McMahon,
faculty advisor to Democracy House, and Jennifer Altman, former faculty advisor and chair of the award selection committee.
Halimat Oshun was recently presented the first Patrick Donohue Outstanding Service and Civic Engagement Student Award at Middlesex County College. The award recognizes a student who has demonstrated a substantive and positive impact through community involvement. It was presented at a reception attended by the College community, alumni, and Professor Donohue’s family.
Ms. Oshun is a two-year member of Democracy House, MCC’s service-learning program. She has participated in the Habitat for Humanity build several times, a camp cleanup, and numerous blood drives. She has visited the Menlo Park Home for Veterans on multiple occasions and works extensively with the Center for Empowerment. Ms. Oshun has also done both Martin Luther King and 9/11 days of service. She is also a Dean’s List student, and an officer with the Student Government Association.
The award is named for Patrick Donohue, a former professor at MCC, who passed away in July of 2015. Beyond his inspirational teachings on American politics, civic society and the democratic process, Professor Donohue was a tireless supporter of student involvement in the local community. Soon after becoming an instructor, he created Democracy House at Middlesex, which paired the needs of the local community with the opportunity for students to enhance their academic and personal development through community service. He left MCC in June of 2008 to pursue leadership of the Bonner Center at The College of New Jersey.
Jennifer Altman, sociology professor at MCC and the chair of the award selection committee, spoke at the reception.
“Pat was the epitome of the perfect community college professor,” she said “He was whip smart, but not condescending. He was theoretical and practical. He was a doer, not just a talker and he was always moving, always, dreaming, always planning, always connecting people. I could see it in the way faculty colleagues came up and brainstormed ideas with Pat; how the administrative staff glowed over the impact of the projects; how Democracy House staff thrived off Pat’s mentorship and commitment; how community members hugged and thanked Pat for truly caring, making a difference and making the time to connect to their worlds, their constraints, and their needs, and most of all, I saw it in the alumni and students. How they told me over and over again how Pat has changed their lives, how Pat believed in them before they believed in themselves. How Pat taught them to question, think critically and set higher expectations in the classroom than they had ever set for themselves.”
Through partnerships with the Bonner Foundation, Professor Donohue was instrumental in bringing AmeriCorps and Bonner Scholarships to countless students throughout his tenure at MCC. The Center’s partnerships with local nonprofits have focused on several areas of need in the greater Middlesex County area including hunger, homelessness, urban education, the environment, youth and family services, youth development, and immigrant services. For many years the Center has been the recipient of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MCC ALUMNUS Wesley Brooks ’12 who is one of six students from across the U.S. to receive Learning Ally’s National Achievement Award and will be featured in a Metuchen High School town hall June 9
Alumni of Metuchen High School (MHS) will be featured in a town hall at the MHS library on Thursday, June 9, talking about how to successfully navigate high school and college if you have learning disabilities.
The panel is aimed at students in middle and high school and their families and will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the high school, 400 Grove Ave.
“Whether your child is in sixth grade or 12th, has ADHD, dyslexia, a physical disability, or a specific learning disability, it’s never too early or too late to learn now to successfully navigate school, college, and the workplace,” said Anne Newman, liaison to the high school for the Metuchen Special Education Parents Advisory Council, in a news release. “Our alumni will share the good and the bad about what school was like for them in Metuchen and talk about their paths to college success. “The evening will feature a Q&A with alumni Wes Brooks, Metuchen class of 2009, and others.
Brooks graduated with high honors from Middlesex County College, where he was on the Disabilities Task Force, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and Academic Division Council. He then transferred to Monmouth University, where he graduated with a major in English and secondary education and won an outstanding writing award for his work on the school paper.
In April, he was one of six winners of the Learning Ally National Achievement Award recognizing students’ outstanding achievements in college despite a visual or learning disability. Learning Ally helps people who learn differently and “are committed to helping individuals with a visual disability or learning differences achieve their full potential.” They have the largest collection of human-read audio books and literature titles in the world, and supply parent support services and give educators strategies for the classroom.
“My goal is really to give back,” he said. “I want to help advocate for other people with special needs. Learning Ally did such a great job helping me be successful, that I want to help other people. I think when teachers saw that I could keep up with the various tools Learning Ally supplied, it opened up their eyes to the fact that people do learn differently. Technology was a huge help.”
February 25, 2015: Middlesex County College Alumni President Honored for 45 Years of Volunteer Service
On February 25, Dorothy Bitetto ’69, president of the Middlesex County College Alumni Association, was honored for 45 years of volunteer service to the College at the third Alumni Networking Event hosted by College President, Joann La Perla-Morales
at her residence. She was presented with a framed copy of the resolution of the College Board of Trustees. The board approved the resolution at its February meeting.
Ms. Bitetto has been involved as a volunteer with MCC since she graduated in 1969; she was a founding member of the Alumni Association and is currently the president. Over the years, she has worked extensively on numerous events, including the Alumni Art Exhibit. She played key roles in planning and implementing alumni reunions in 1983, 1991 and 2013, and she is now working on the College’s Community Open House and Expo, which is scheduled for April 19. She also served on the College Foundation’s advisory board and supports its fundraising efforts.
“This was an amazing surprise to be honored with such a special distinction coming from the Board of Trustees,” Ms. Bitetto said. “What I do for MCC is out of my love and devotion to the College. I am proud to be called an MCC alumna.”
Democrat Nancy J. Pinkin, of East Brunswick, was first elected to the New Jersey General Assembly on November 5, 2013. Mrs. Pinkin earned her Associate of Applied Science from Middlesex County College; her bachelor’s from Rutgers University; and her Master of Public Administration in public administration and health administration from New York University. She also completed a post-graduate fellowship in health policy and research at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Mrs. Pinkin is the founder of Pinkin Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in health care consulting and association management. She also is the executive director of the Middlesex and Mercer county medical societies. Prior to serving in the Assembly, Mrs. Pinkin served as a member of the East Brunswick Township Council from 2005 to 2014, and as council president from 2006 to 2008.
Mrs. Pinkin and her husband, Dr. James Salwitz, have two adult children and recently became grandparents. Mrs. Pinkin represents the 18th Legislative District, which includes the Middlesex County municipalities of East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Plainfield and South River.
Kevin Kasha, MCC Alumnus of the class of’ 81, was previously Anchor Bay’s head of worldwide acquisitions. In the newly created position, he will have the mandate to acquire products for all of the company’s platforms. He will now handle film, television series, and digital acquisitions for Starz Networks’ 17 cable channels, Starz Worldwide Distribution, Starz Digital Media, and Anchor Bay Entertainment. He will report to chief revenue office Michael Thornton. Kasha’s promotion comes as the company is looking for ways to better coordinate its various divisions and better align its brands. The move was described by an insider as “a synthesis, not a consolidation.” With the new post, the company centralizes decision-making for acquisitions with Kasha, which includes partnerships with Disney and Sony. Kasha boasts two decades of experience in acquisitions, including holding senior He joined Anchor Bay in 2008 as senior vice president of acquisitions, and in two years was promoted to executive vice president, worldwide acquisitions and co-productions. The more than 100 films he has acquired include “City Island” with Andy Garcia, “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” with Billy Bob Thornton and “Solitary Man” with Michael Douglas, as well as home entertainment and digital rights to “The Walking Dead.”