42nd Annual Commencement

Instructor discussing with students in the Lab

42nd Annual Commencement
May 22, 2014 - Main Campus


Students standing at the Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations Class of 2014

(This report covers both morning and evening ceremonies)

The damp weather failed to douse the spirits of the 909 graduates, the largest class in PCCC history, who received their associate degrees and certificates in the 42nd Commencement on May 22.

To strains of the Pomp and Circumstance march, the graduates filed in to cheers and applause from friends and family seated in the PCCC gym on the Paterson campus. 

“We’ve had a bit of a growth spurt,” PCCC President  Dr. Steven Rose told the morning crowd in his opening remarks. For the first time, the College held two commencement ceremonies to accommodate the numbers.

“Celebrating Our Diversity,” is the permanent theme of PCCC’s commencement ceremonies, and Dr. Rose pointed to the 45 flags decorating the walls, representing the birth nations of the Class of 2014.

The President commended in particular those graduates who held down jobs,  raised children, or had to learn English to attend college, but “persevered to complete your degrees and certificates.”

Dignitaries offered both congratulations and challenge to the Class of 2014. Harvey Nutter, Chairman of the PCCC Board of Trustees told the graduates,   “You are walking, talking testimonies..to those who wonder if anything good can come out of Paterson.”

Passaic County Freeholder Bruce James exhorted the graduates to remember their obligation to PCCC. “You’re here today, because somebody cared about you,” he said. “We need your help as alumni.  It could be your kid in the future who benefits from coming here.”

In the spirit of community, Theodore O. Best, Jr.,  Deputy Director of the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, drew laughs when he said, “I’m thinking of changing the name of PCCC to Passaic County Family College, because when you walk across this stage tonight, you become part of a family that includes the alumni of the previous 41 commencements.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Ida Greidanus, a retiring science professor at PCCC, sought to “dispel the thought that you (the graduates) are disadvantaged by being who you are or where you’re from, or by not attending a larger or more prestigious college.”

“I want to tell you about your advantages,” said Dr. Greidanus.   “First is what you have learned here. You met high standards at PCCC to be able to graduate today.”

She praised the graduates for already having a strong work ethic. “Most of you  know the nitty gritty of a hardworking life,” said Dr. Greidanus. “Nobody has to tell you to get real, you already are real,” she said drawing cheers and enthusiastic applause.

Dr. Greidanus named the diversity of PCCC as another great advantage to its students. “This is priceless,” she said.  “Diversity allows us to step outside ourselves and work alongside people of different backgrounds and cultures.  This leads you to live more effectively in our complex society.”

The valedictory address was delivered at the morning ceremony by Omar Abbasi, a Wayne resident who received his A.S. Degree in Business Administration/International Business.

“Today is Omar’s birthday,” said Vice President Jacqueline Kineavy who introduced him, prompting the graduates to sing the Happy Birthday song.

In his inspirational speech, Omar urged his fellow grads to “finish what you started at PCCC.” He added, “This is only the beginning. Your bachelor’s degree is right around the corner and your master’s degree is a few blocks away.”

In his inspirational speech, Omar urged his fellow grads to “finish what you started at PCCC.” He added, “This is only the beginning. Your bachelor’s degree is right around the corner and your master’s degree is a few blocks away.”

Evening valedictorian Juan Leiva told the graduates, “When you see an opportunity, don’t let it go by. Grab it with all your might.”

A Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. speaking little English, Juan graduated with a perfect 4.0 average and an A.S. Degree in Science/Pre-professional Scientific.

In one of the many poignant moments at Commencement 2014, the father of two thanked his parents, his wife, and the PCCC staff for the support that enabled him to study in pursuit of a medical career.  To the Class of 2014, Juan said, “You are now college graduates. Have faith in yourself.”

Facts About the PCCC Class of 2014

  • 909 graduates, the largest graduating class in PCCC history,
  • Born in 45 different nations
  • Represent every town in Passaic County
  • Range in age from 18-63 years old
  • 65% are female
  • Average GPA is 3.1


Morning  Ceremony  11:00 A.M.

Degree Recipients for:
Associate in Arts and Career Certificates

Valedictorian: Omar Abbasi
A.S. Degree in Business Administration 

Evening Ceremony  7:00 P.M.

Degree Recipients for:
Associate in Applied Science,
Associate in Science,
and Certificates of Achievement

Valedictorian: Juan Leiva
A.S. Degree in Science