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The largest class in Middlesex County College history – 1415 students – graduated Thursday, May 20 at the 43rd annual Commencement exercises witnessed by more than 3500 guests under sunny skies on the College green.
Valedictorian Zizhou Zhao of New Brunswick delivered the class welcome, sharing his experiences and aspirations since emigrating from China two years ago. He earned a 4.0 grade point average as triple major: in Mathematics, Physics and Engineering Science. He was an officer of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges, and he was president of the Chinese Club. He is also a recipient of the 2010 Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship, which is the largest and most prestigious in the nation for students transferring from a community college to a four-year institution. He will receive up to $30,000 per year for three years. He is planning to attend the University of California at Berkeley.
“Like everyone in the class of 2010, I had a dream,” he told the audience. “It is our dream that gives us the faith to succeed; it’s our dream that drives us to continue all our hard work, and it’s also the dream that will help us to live meaningful and colorful lives.”
Approximately 600 members of the Class of 2010 participated in the exercises, representing the 320 graduates of August 2009, 372 of January 2010 and 723 of May 2010.
Participants included several students who fulfilled the requirements for more than one degree or certificate during this academic year.
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; and Christopher Rafano, Freeholder director.
Professor Charles V. DiDomenico of the Department of English 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 Interim Dean Stephen Larkin. Dr. Hays presented the candidates for graduation and conferred the Frank M. Chambers Award for Academic Excellence to 13 graduates, in recognition of their earning a 4.0 grade point average. Mr. Zhao is a Chambers Award winner and he is joined by the Salutatorian, Debra J. Wolfe of Edison, Cindy Tjeng of Piscataway, Bonny S. Kelter of East Brunswick, Angella Royer of Woodbridge, Paul J. Hornak of Carteret, Catherine Michaelsen of Carteret, Chia Hsin Chao of Iselin, Jaemi Allen Ong of Rahway, Michael Morakinyo of Piscataway, Marisol Santana of Piscataway, Saarth Shah of Edison, and Kimberly Ann Walker of Monroe Township.