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May 17, 2012grad12

A total of 1458 degrees and certificates were awarded at Middlesex County College Thursday, May 17 at the 45th annual Commencement exercises witnessed by more than 3000 guests. The event was held in the Quad, in the middle of campus, under beautiful, sunny skies.

Valedictorian Jessica Soto of Old Bridge delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations. Ms. Soto was the co-president of the College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.

“We all have unique stories, unique perspectives,” she said. “Before attending MCC, I was the manager of a law firm for six years. I was married and just had my second child. School seemed like a far-fetched goal, one that could not compete with my well-paying law firm job. But you know the saying, ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.’ I didn’t love my job but I wanted to, as I’m sure you all do. We want to work and be proud and love what we do. And so I came here.

“For many of us, community college may not have been our first choice, but it turned out to be the right choice. It is the place we all needed in order to grow. I grew more during the time I spent at Middlesex than I thought possible. For me, Phi Theta Kappa was a big part of that growth. I can remember some amazing moments that I will always cherish: hanging cranes for the Tsunami fundraiser, screaming at the top of my lungs during the breast cancer walk on campus, and watching my incredibly talented classmates break dancing in the quad during the Student Activities Fair. And mostly, I remember the friends I have made.”

Approximately 600 members of the Class of 2012 participated in the exercises, representing the 325 graduates of August 2011, 407 of January 2012 and 676 of May 2012. 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; Christopher Rafano, Freeholder director; and Charles Tomaro, Freeholder liaison to Middlesex County College.

Dr. Arthur T. Peterson of the Department of Accounting, Business and Legal Studies 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 nine graduates, in recognition of their earning a 4.0 grade point average. Ms. Soto is a Chambers Award winner and she is joined by the Salutatorian, Charles Hahn of New Brunswick; Sylwia Adamczyk of Piscataway; Diana Castano of Perth Amboy; Megan Giles of Woodbridge; Robert L. Kenney III of Montclair; Michelle Kniep of Metuchen; Jodi Beth Silverman of North Brunswick; and Anthony V. Zecca of Edison.