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Commencement 09: A Beautiful Day as Grads Rejoice

The Middlesex County College Class of 2009 was graduated Thursday, May 21 at the 42nd annual Commencement exercises. A total of 1118 degrees and certificates were awarded in ceremonies witnessed by more than 3500 guests under sunny skies on the College green.

Valedictorian Saarth Shah delivered the class welcome, sharing his experiences and aspirations since emigrating from India two years ago. Mr. Shah earned a 4.0 grade point average as a computer science student and served as an officer of Phi Theta Kappa, the undergraduate honor society. He will continue his education at Rutgers University.

"In India, I had a great education in mathematics and other sciences, which helped me a lot here," he said in his address. "However, having studied at a school that did not teach in English, learning to work in a new language was a hurdle. Having learned all the subjects in my traditional language, I was quite intimidated when I attended my first class at MCC. A wise man once said, 'Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.' At Middlesex, I was able to overcome this language challenge. I started settling down because of the comfortable environment created by teachers in the classroom and the support of my friends. Semester after semester passed by and things kept getting better. Middlesex County College has played a big role in transforming me to the person that I am today. Middlesex gave me a wonderful education and so much more."

Approximately 545 members of the Class of 2009 participated in the exercises, representing the 304 graduates of January 2009, 553 of May 2009 and 261 who completed studies in August 2008. 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 Ronald G. Rios, Freeholder liaison to Middlesex County College.

Dr. Beverly Simon, Computer Science and Information Technology professor emerita who retired in December 2008, led the academic processional as Grand Marshal. She served the College for more than 28 years.

Dr. La Perla-Morales, sixth president of the College, conferred degrees and certificates of achievement to the graduates, who were introduced by Deans Marilyn Laskowski-Sachnoff and Dr. Reginald K. Luke. Dr. Hays presented the candidates for graduation and conferred the Frank M. Chambers Award for Academic Excellence to four graduates, in recognition of their earning a 4.0 grade point average. Mr. Shah is a Chambers Award winner and he is joined by the Salutatorian, Katalin Frolio, who received Associate in Science degree in mathematics; Seunghee Hwang, who received an Associate in Science degree in chemistry; and Samantha Nicole Schoen, who received an Associate in Science degree in Business Administration.