EDISON, NJ - A total of 1,509 degrees and certificates were awarded to 1,476 students by Middlesex County College Tuesday, May 23 at the 50th annual commencement exercises witnessed by approximately 3,500 guests in the Expo Center in the Raritan Center.

Valedictorian Sara Rose Chirco delivered the class welcome, sharing her experiences and aspirations. Chirco is a liberal arts and sociology major.

“We have all worked so hard to get here today,” she told the class. “I’ve met so many hardworking people here at Middlesex. Some were fresh out of high school, struggling to find their passion and learning to juggle their newfound sense of educational freedom. Some were moms who are raising three kids, working two jobs, taking six classes each semester and somehow managing to get straight A’s. It’s amazing what you’ve all accomplished – what we have all accomplished – here at MCC. It is a huge success.

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“Success has different meanings for different people. For students, it’s making it to graduation or handing in a paper on time. For athletes, it’s winning the big game or further developing their skills. For parents, it’s getting you out of the house. But seriously, don’t let other people measure your success. You define your own success. We should all be proud that we are here today, no longer as students of MCC, but as graduates.”

Approximately 650 members of the Class of 2017 participated in the exercises, representing the 385 graduates of August 2016, 373 of January 2017 and 718 of May 2017. Participants included several students who fulfilled the requirements for more than one degree or certificate during this academic year.

Mark McCormick, vice president for academic and student affairs, presided. Greetings were delivered by Joann La Perla-Morales, college president; Dorothy K. Power, chairman of the Board of Trustees; and Ronald G. Rios, freeholder director.

Diane Trainor, of the Natural Sciences Department, led the academic processional as grand marshal.

La Perla-Morales, sixth president of the college, conferred degrees and certificates to the graduates. McCormick presented the candidates for graduation.

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 Chirco of Iselin; the salutatorian, Lawrence W. Giordano of Edison; and Christopher J. Klapper of Edison; Dorota Matracz of Metuchen, Chelsea McNulty of Monroe Township; and Yana Titova of East Brunswick.