PATERSON NJ - More than 600 Passaic County Community College (PCCC) graduates in the Class of 2020 will be recognized and celebrated Thursday at a virtual graduation ceremony. For the first time in the half-century history of (PCCC), the graduating class will have four valedictorians, all graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA and highest honors.
Each of them will offer a valedictory address at the event which will be streamed live beginning at 6:00 p.m. Click here to watch the live stream.
All four valedictorians will transfer into a bachelor’s degree program this Fall. Maximino DiGiacomo-Castillo, an award-winning student researcher, transfers to Stanford University. Miguel Ruiz and Maximillian Mrozek-McCourt transfer to Rutgers-Newark. Diana Garay was accepted by Columbia and Rutgers-Newark and has not yet decided.
PCCC Class of 2020 Valedictorians
Maximillian Mrozek-McCourt is the only valedictorian who has a history of strong academic achievement, having been in honor societies and the recipient of awards since elementary school. Max received his associate’s degree in physical science. He is a member of both the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and the Honors Program. Max is the recipient of the Graduate Science Award and the NJ Research and Development Merit Scholarship. He has completed internships from the National Science Foundation and the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program. Max will pursue a bachelor’s degree in physics and aims for a career in research and astrophysics. “PCCC enabled me to focus, study, and discover what I want to do,” said Max. “People here really care about students’ success.
Miguel Ruiz earned his associate’s degree in humanities. A member of PTK and the Honors Program, Miguel received the Humanities Graduate Award and the Honors Program Award. He enrolled in 10 rigorous honors classes over two years, more than any other student did at PCCC. During college, Miguel work as a park ranger in Paterson’s Great Falls National Park where he enjoyed serving the public and learning about land and cultural conservation He was inspired to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public administration and hopes for a career in the US Department of the Interior, specifically working in national parks. “My PCCC experience has been nothing but positive,” said Miguel. He considers “the exceptional professors I had,” to be the most valuable part of his college experience. “I can safely say I made the right choice enrolling at PCCC.”
Diana Garay immigrated to the US from Peru only three years ago. She enrolled in PCCC’s ESL classes to learn English. “PCCC lit my path,” said Diana, who initially struggled to adjust to life in America. A member of PTK and the Honors Program, she receives her associate’s degree in Humanities and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in international relations. A member of PTK and the Honors Program, Diana received a full-tuition scholarship to Rutgers-Newark as well as acceptance to Columbia. Fluent in several languages, she would like to become an international lawyer and work at the United Nations.
Max DiGiacomo-Castillo receives his associate’s degree in mathematics. A member of PTK and the Honors Program, he received the Philp Metz Award in Mathematics, given annually to a graduate who has demonstrated exceptional achievement in math. Max is a two-time, first place winner at The Beacon Conference, an event for honor program students to present their original research. He also completed a research internship last year at Stanford on the subject of blockchain, and is currently completing a virtual internship on blockchain with Montana State University. The recipient of a NJ Research and Develop Merit Scholarship, Max will pursue his bachelor’s degree at Stanford in computer science. He is considering a career in venture capital or cryptography. Looking back over the past two years, Max said the most valuable part of his experience at PCCC was “the opportunity to restart and apply myself to my studies. In the Fall, I will begin at a university I had zero chance of being admitted to out of high school, and that’s exciting.”