MORRISTOWN, NJ — County College of Morris (CCM) presented diplomas to the Class of 2018 on Friday at Mennen Sports Arena during its 49th commencement, which consisted of the largest number of graduates in the college’s history to participate in the ceremony.
The Class of 2018 includes approximately 1,400 students, many of whom are transferring to top four-year institutions to earn their bachelor’s degrees. The graduates received their diplomas in one of four degrees: Associate in Arts, Associate in Fine Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science. The graduates completed their studies between August 2017 and May 2018.
Dr. Aaron Fichtner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, served as the keynote speaker for the approximately 500 students from the Class of 2018 who took part in this year’s commencement ceremony.
“You have learned to solve problems, to work in teams, to gather and evaluate large amounts of information, to respect and understand people who are different from you," said Fichtner. "And you have learned to learn. It is essential that you keep learning throughout your career and your life. As you embark on your next adventures and opportunities, may you always have faith in the future, have a vision and work hard to achieve it, have the imagination to dream of a better world and the courage to work to create it.”
Also providing remarks was Douglas Cabana, director of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“Whatever you imagine as your future can become a reality if you have the courage and determination and are willing to put in the hard work necessary to pursue your dream,” said Cabana. “You already have taken a major step in pursuing your future by working hard to achieve the degree you will receive today. You did that. Be proud of it.”
During his remarks to the graduates, CCM President Anthony Iacono took advantage of the opportunity to highlight the diversity of students who benefit from a CCM education.
Included among the students he highlighted was Erin Foody, 18, of Rockaway, who earned her associate degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and two certificates before receiving her high school diploma as a result of participating in a share-time program developed by the Morris County Vocational School District and CCM. Also highlighted was Andrea Lucia Alfonso, of Parsippany, who as a CCM student performed research in artificial tissue engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and was one of only 10 students nationwide to receive a $7,500 Phi Theta Kappa Hites Transfer Scholarship.
Also highlighted at the ceremony were Ranell Bell, of Dover, who came to CCM on the GI Bill and excelled both in the classroom and on the college’s basketball team; Jaida Schettino, of Sparta, who served as president of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa national honor society, played on the women’s soccer team and was named a nationally recognized Coca Cola Scholar; and Darrin Pulver, of Great Meadows, the third generation nurse in his family to graduate from CCM.
Standing with tradition, this year’s CCM Peace Prize was awarded at commencement. This year, there were two winners: CCM Student Nurses Association members Diana Boehm, of Kenvil, and Mary Rose Cortes, of Morristown, who produced a video “Appalachia: Chasing Hope.” They, along with several other members of the Student Nurses Association, traveled to Gary, WV in May 2017 to share their time and training with the families of that distressed community, whose high rates of childhood poverty, diabetes, malnutrition and other health-related needs warrant attention.
The video Boehm and Cortes produced, which can be viewed HERE, chronicles the Student Nurses Association’s efforts to assist and offer hope. Their faculty mentor for the project was Professor Buffy Reilly from the Department of Nursing.
The creator of the winning entry each year receives a $1,000 award, provided by the CCM Foundation. At the request of Boehm and Cortes, this year's award is being donated to the School for Life in Gary, WV.
This is the 17th year that the college has awarded its Peace Prize, which is organized and administered by Professor Peter Maguire of the Department of English and Philosophy.
The Class of 2018 saw many significant accomplishments at the college during their educational journey. In 2017, the college became the first community college in New Jersey to gain designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. PayScale also rated the college number one in New Jersey based on the earnings of CCM graduates.
As part of the college’s 50th anniversary celebrations, CCM this year also launched a 50th Anniversary Campaign focused on funding programs and facility upgrades, including the Paragano Family Foundation Medical Simulation Center, a Cyber Security Suite, an enhanced Culinary Arts Training facility, a new Manufacturing and Engineering building, student scholarships and the Faculty Innovation Fund. In addition, two new academic programs in animation and virtual reality were developed, to start this Fall Semester, to meet the demand for employees in these rapidly growing areas.