A total of 1514 degrees and certificates were awarded to 1480 students by Middlesex County College Thursday, May 17 at the 51st annual Commencement exercises witnessed by approximately 3500 guests at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Valedictorian Sindhu Murthy (Highland Park) delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations. Ms. Murthy, who graduated in January and is now attending Rutgers University, was a physics major.

“This school has been a springboard for many of us; it has helped us launch ourselves toward the future in ways we never imagined,” she told the class. “We have achieved this milestone after bouts of uncertainty, toil and strain. I have shared classrooms with people struggling with multiple jobs, illness, and financial distress who still took the time and effort to work their way toward college graduation.  This is a small yet momentous investment toward our dreams, so let us celebrate it. It is also important that we continue to maintain hope and ambition in the future. Some of us have dreams while many of us don’t know what we want to do, but what really matters is that we make the most out of this education.”

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Approximately 725 members of the Class of 2018 participated in the exercises, representing the 333 graduates of August 2017, 422 of January 2018 and 725 of May 2018. Participants included several students who fulfilled the requirements for more than one degree or certificate during this academic year.

Dr. Mark McCormick, 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 director.

The ceremony was the end of an era: Professor Robert Colburn, the last remaining member of the College’s 1966 original faculty, led the academic processional as grand marshal. He is retiring this year.

Dr. McCormick presented the candidates for graduation and Dr. La Perla-Morales conferred the degrees and certificates. Earlier in May, the College held an honors convocation for students with the highest academic achievement in each program. MCC also presented the Chambers Awards to graduates with the highest grade point average. They include Ms. Murthy; the salutatorian, Jamie N. Donato (South Plainfield); and Marvi Niaz Abbasi (East Brunswick), Jeanna T. Alemany (Monroe Township), Justine Burnett (Woodbridge), Eunice S. Camerino (Spotswood), Samantha Marie Casano (Parlin), Vinnicius B. Coelho (South River), Harpreet Kaur (Carteret), Heather R. Kelleman (South Amboy), Rocio A. Mantilla (New Brunswick), Kaelyn Patel (Monmouth Junction) and Anthony A. Pensak (Edison).