RANDOLPH, NJ -- County College of Morris (CCM) held its 51st commencement ceremony virtually on YouTube on Fri., June 12. CCM awarded associate degrees to more than 1,200 members of the Class of 2020, the school announced in a press release.

According to the press release, the graduates will be receiving their diplomas by mail in one of four degrees: Associate of Arts, Associate of Fine Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science. Also included among the graduates are those who have earned certificates. The graduates consist of those who completed their studies at CCM between August 2019 and May 2020.

Rev. Dr. Sidney S. Williams, Jr., an impact investor and practical theologian with more than 30 years of experience in corporate and community development, served as the keynote speaker, the release announced.

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“Who could image the uncertainly the Class of 2020 would face,” Williams noted. “Today I want not only to challenge you to embrace uncertainty, but I also want to challenge you to show up in the world when it matters most. I challenge you to embrace uncertainty and to dream about the many ways you make a real difference...consider volunteering at your local food pantry, help the elderly in your community, organize a fundraiser for a worthy cause. Whatever you decide to do, keep smiling. And here is the good news, the best is yet to come.”

Deborah Smith, director of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, also provided remarks. “Regardless of the current situation, this is a special day for you,” she said. “It is the start of your life as leaders in our society; you are the next generation who will get us through crises like Superstorm Sandy and COVID-19. Thanks to your education here at CCM, the world is open to you. You already have taken a major step towards your future by working hard to achieve the degree you will receive.”

The following graduates received recognition for completing their studies despite life’s challenges and obstacles:

Walmer Granda-Acaro, of Morristown, a business major, emigrated to the U.S. when he was 14. At CCM, he became president of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society and spent his years at the college helping and inspiring others. Granda-Acaro will continue his studies at Georgetown University.

Emma Mendoza, of Boonton, majored in international studies. She was named to the 2020 PTK New Jersey All-State Academic Team for her academic excellence, leadership and community service. At CCM, she served as president of the Student Government Association, as a member of both the PTK and Alpha Mu Gamma honor societies, on the leadership team for the Student Activities Programming Board and as a student representative to CCM’s College Council. Mendoza will continue her studies at Rutgers University and will serve on the CCM’s Board of Trustees as the alumni trustee for the 2020-21 academic year.

Corey Anding, of Newark, studied international studies and is a United State military veteran. Corey also was named to the 2020 PTK New Jersey All-State Academic Team for his academic excellence, leadership and community service. At CCM, he served as president pro tempore of the Student Government Association, as a member of both the PTK and Alpha Mu Gamma honor societies and as a student representative on CCM’s College Council and Student Affairs Committee. Anding will continue his studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

“I want to encourage you to continue reaching for your dreams,” Iacono told the Class of 2020. “Be fearless in the pursuit of your goals and uncompromising of your values. Never stop learning and remember that success is not simply about doing things right but, more importantly, success requires the courage to do the right things. Our world needs more authentic leaders – leaders who are bold, compassionate, fair and visionary. Leaders who unite, respect all lives and help us advance humanity in a way that leaves no one behind.”

CCM Trustee Vice Chair Jeffrey Advokat, of Denville, remarked, “I want to sincerely congratulate all of the graduates and let you know how proud all of the Trustees are here at CCM of your achievement. Although our society has hit a terrible low, we are already beginning our comeback, and the high quality that our renewed strength will bring will be led by your generation.”   

Antonina Mammana, of Randolph, who graduated summa cum laude with her Associate of Science degree in mathematics with an education concentration, received the 2020 Peace Prize for her “What is Peace” video, the press release stated. According to the release, Mammana’s project envisions peace as a concept that begins every day. The video features her hand sketching a flower, while her narration urges viewers to consider peace as the product of small, individual, personal choices. The video can be viewed at /.

Mammana will receive a $1,000 award provided by the CCM Foundation. According to the press release, this is the 19th year the college has awarded its Peace Prize, which was administered this year by Professor Laura Driver from the Department of English and Philosophy.

According to the press release, many members of the graduating class will be transferring to four-year institutions in New Jersey and across the nation to earn their bachelor’s degrees. Some of those institutions include Cornell University, Drew University, John J. College of Criminal Justice, Montclair University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Rutgers University at CCM, and the University of Virginia.              

The press release highlighted accomplishments throughout the year. Professor Eber, chair of the English and Philosophy department and English professor, received the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award from the American Association of Community Colleges in recognition of her commitment to the success of students. The college’s Center for Workforce Development for the second year in a row received a Best Practice Award from the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. The CCM Educational Opportunity Fund received a Silver Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education for its service to ensure the success of first-generation students.