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A total of 1445 students – the largest class in Middlesex County College history – graduated Thursday, May 19 at the 44th annual Commencement exercises witnessed by more than 3000 guests. The event was held in the Physical Education Center because of rainy weather.
Valedictorian Farah Manzoor of Edison delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations.
A native of Pakistan, Ms. Manzoor went back to school after a 10-year lapse in her education. She majored in accounting and has accepted a scholarship to the Rutgers Business School.
“After graduation, we will all be going in our different directions,” she told the class. “Some of us will be transferring to other colleges to earn our bachelor’s or master’s, while others may step right into the workforce. This may be the last time we are all here together, but our paths in life will one day somehow overlap. There is no way of telling right now what the people around you will become in the approaching years, or what you may pursue in life, but whatever you decide, go for it all the way. With the knowledge, skills and invaluable experiences that we gained here at MCC, we can overcome every obstacle.”
Approximately 600 members of the Class of 2011 participated in the exercises, representing the 349 graduates of August 2010, 388 of January 2011 and 708 of May 2011.
Participants included several students who fulfilled the requirements for more than one degree or certificate during this academic year.
The graduates included 91 graduates in the New Jersey STARS program. STARS is a scholarship that covers tuition for students who graduate in the top 15 percent of their high school class and attend their community college. Many of the STARS graduates will be participating in STARS II, which provides a significant scholarship for STARS I students who graduate with a high grade point average and transfer to a New Jersey public college or university.
Dr. Karen L. Hays, vice president for academic and student affairs, presided. Greetings were delivered by Dr. Joann La Perla-Morales, College president; Dorothy K. Power, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Christopher Rafano, Freeholder director; and Carol Barrett Bellante, Freeholder liaison to Middlesex County College.
Professor John Gutowski of the Department of History and Social Science led the academic processional as grand marshal.
Dr. La Perla-Morales, sixth president of the College, conferred degrees and certificates to the graduates, who were introduced by Dean Marilyn Laskowski-Sachnoff and Dean David Edwards. Dr. Hays presented the candidates for graduation and conferred the Frank M. Chambers Award for Academic Excellence to 18 graduates, in recognition of their earning a 4.0 grade point average. Ms. Manzoor is a Chambers Award winner and she is joined by the Salutatorian, Elizabeth Vazquez of Edison, Sonya J. Bacon of Monroe, Ann M. Pfister of Milltown, Anita Abraham of Edison, Mary J. Fiorentino of South Amboy, Kimberly A. Ratai of Colonia, Megan C. Witos of Edison, Laura M. Sarfati of South River, Xianyi Gao of East Brunswick, Irina Kuzmina of Metuchen, Larissa A. Kuhlken of South Plainfield, Matt R. Madurski of South Plainfield, Syed Jawad H. Shah of North Brunswick, Gina K. Rutherford of Sewaren, Alyssa B. Klimek of South Plainfield, Marius Sturzoiu of Edison, and Yuliya Esipova of Avenel.