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County College of Morris Holds 42nd Commencement Ceremony

Associate’s Degrees Earned by More than 1,000 Students

County College of Morris held its 42nd commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 26. A total of 1,123 students, who completed their studies between August 2010 and May 2011, were eligible to participate in the ceremony.

Graduates received diplomas in one of four degrees: Associate in Arts, Associate in Fine Arts, Associate in Science or Associate in Applied Science. Some of the most popular programs CCM students received degrees in were: Humanities Social Science (Liberal Arts), Nursing, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Biology and Exercise Science.

In an effort to advance world peace and human understanding, CCM once again this year awarded a Peace Prize at the ceremony. Students were invited to create works focused on the general theme of world peace. They were able to express themselves through a number of artistic forms including writing, music, dance or visual arts. The winner of the 2011 Peace Prize was Patricio Illanes, of Randolph, for his musical composition titled "Harmony." Illanes’ faculty mentor was Professor Daniel Palladino of the Music, Dance, and Performing Arts Department.

Honorable Mention was awarded to Sandra Pledger, of Randolph, and David Jones, of Succasunna, for their project titled "World Peace." Their faculty mentor was Professor Ray Kalas of the Information Technologies Department.
This year, 10 projects were submitted.

At commencement, Illanes was presented with a $1,000 award, provided by the CCM Foundation, along with a plaque in recognition of his achievement. In addition, his name will be added to a permanent plaque of Peace Prize winners located in the Student Community Center.

Illanes has posted his inspiring composition "Harmony" on the web at http://soundcloud.com/patricio-illanes/harmony.

This is the 10th Peace Prize that the college has awarded. Established in the fall of 2001, the Peace Prize competition provides students with the opportunity to apply their imagination and creativity to the design and production of a work that both commemorates the events of September 11, 2001 and makes a positive statement about the importance and pursuit of world peace.

Holding to tradition, Dr. Edward J Yaw, CCM president, gave the commencement address, using the opportunity to highlight several outstanding students.

The students highlighted by Dr. Yaw were:

Robert Herzog of Ledgewood, who holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and began his career in that field as an auditor for the Morris County Sheriff’s Office. When a spot opened up in the Morris County Police Academy, he applied and began a career in police work. He earned a master’s in education while on the force. Soon he will be retiring from that career and has decided to become a nurse. His interest in nursing came from his involvement with emergency medical squads at the scene of accidents. What he liked most about the CCM nursing program is that it combines class work, labs and working in a clinical environment. As the recipient of the Newton Memorial Hospital Foundation Scholarship, he was awarded $4,000 toward his education and will work part-time for the hospital for three years. This fits well with his current full-time position, which he will retire from in three years. Eventually, he would like to continue his schooling to become a nurse practitioner.

Gabriella London of Randolph, who had always hated school before coming to CCM. Her learning disabilities made school difficult and frustrating. While most students might study for an exam for a few days, she would have to prepare weeks ahead of time, but still did not always receive the grades that reflected her efforts. When she enrolled at CCM, she had no particular direction or plans. She just wanted to get through school and get a degree. Then something wonderful happened. For the first time in her life, she found herself enjoying school. The atmosphere at CCM was positive and friendly. Her learning disabilities were accommodated with special tutoring and testing through Case Horizons. And the enthusiasm of two of her professors ignited a passion for a degree in elementary school teaching, which she will pursue this fall at Fairleigh Dickinson University with a full scholarship.

Danielle Idler of Rockaway Township, who was another student who came to CCM with absolutely no idea what she wanted to study. An outgoing person who enjoys interacting with people, she soon discovered a field that is uniquely suited to her personality—the hospitality industry. What she liked most about this major at CCM was that the program shows how the hospitality industry really works. This summer, she will put what she has learned into practice as she participates in a cooperative work experience with Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center in Florham Park. In the fall, she will be attending Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, one of the nation’s best hospitality schools, where she will study International Hotel and Tourism Management.

Richard Koval of Rockaway, who served as the student speaker for commencement. A former police officer, he felt a bit apprehensive about returning to school, mostly because he had not been inside a classroom for many years. But like his son who attended CCM before him, he says he found his CCM teachers extremely supportive, as he also found his fellow students most welcoming. It wasn’t long either before he became involved in student activities. He was elected president of the business honor society, Alpha Beta Gamma. He also participated in fundraisers to provide textbooks to disadvantaged students as a member of the national honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. Because of his academic achievement, he was awarded the Robert Ramsdale Memorial Business Scholarship, which underwrote a large portion of his tuition. He is studying for a second career in business and will be continuing his education at William Paterson University on scholarship. He also will be continuing his relationship with CCM as the alumni representative on the CCM Board of Trustees.

Justin Mackowiak of Oak Ridge, who had to overcome a number of challenges to complete his education. He comes from a family of 14, and minds his younger siblings when his parents are at work. His other challenges included a sister who was fighting leukemia, who has since beaten the disease, academic issues, extreme financial difficulties and juggling school with family needs. All this, and he is legally blind. Known as “Big Red” because of his long, striking red hair, he started at CCM in the summer of 2006. Those who know him say that his outgoing spirit disguises his severe disability remarkably well. With every hardship that came his way, he became more determined to succeed and finish school. He now hopes to transfer to William Paterson to study world history and archeology. County College of Morris held its 42nd commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 26. A total of 1,123 students, who completed their studies between August 2010 and May 2011, were eligible to participate in the ceremony.

Kelly Miller of Rockaway Township, who discovered she had more talent than she realized as a CCM student. When she began her music concentration at CCM, she thought she would become a music therapist because she didn’t think she had a voice sufficient for the performing arts. Then she met Professor Marielaine Mammon, chair of the Department of Music, Dance and Performing Arts, and her world changed. She says that while CCM was not her first choice, it turned out to be the best choice because of the one-to-one attention she received. That attention paid off. She landed the leading roles in CCM’s productions of Cinderella, Into the Woods, and The Phantom of the Opera. She also appeared in plays at the Brundage Park Playhouse in Randolph and the Dover Little Theatre. Not stopping there, she auditioned and was chosen for the All State Choir, which performed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Carnegie Hall. Finally, she found the confidence to compete against 300 auditioners and was chosen as one of five performers to sing the national anthem at Citi Field in New York. She was accepted for transfer by several colleges, including NYU which is where she has decided to continue her studies in its elite music program.