PCCC 36th Annual Commencement Ceremonies

Students at the break

Graduated students listening the speeker

Spotlight on Our Graduates
Class of 2008

May 22, 2008
On a fair spring evening, a capacity crowd of family and friends filled the gymnasium of Passaic County Community College to honor the 400 graduates of the Class of 2008, the third-largest class in the College’s 35-year history. Robed in academic caps and gowns, the graduates, faculty members, and administrators marched in outdoor procession around the College along a specially marked path, symbolic of the academic journey. They filed into the gymnasium to the inspirational strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” played on piano by Patricio Molina, a senior at Passaic Valley High School, and to joyous cheers and applause from the audience.

The Reverend - Calvin McKinney

The Reverend
Calvin McKinney

Abdul Hammad - Class President

Abdul Hammad
Class President

Graduate Abdul Hammad who served as President of the Student Government Association, led the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of “God Bless America.”  The Reverend Calvin McKinney of Calvary Baptist Church in Garfield delivered the invocation, asking for guidance and protection for the graduates. “If you guide us, we shall go right,” he prayed.

Dr. Steven - Rose College President

Dr. Steven Rose

Dr. Steven M. Rose, the College president, welcomed the members of the audience to “our favorite night of the year.” He noted that, as in prior years, the theme of the commencement was “Celebrating Our Diversity,” and pointed out the variety of ethnicities, ages, and lifestyles among the graduates. Some 41 different national flags serving as a backdrop to the stage, represented the various ethnicities of the Class of 2008.

“Tonight’s graduates range in age from 19 to 66,” said Dr. Rose “and 68 per cent are female.”  While some had entered the College directly from high school, many returned years later, often attending only part-time while working at jobs or raising children and even grandchildren. “It’s been a long journey for some of you…but you are all successes,” added the president, noting that three of the 2008 graduates had begun their studies in the 1980s.

Kenneth Sumter - Chairman of College Board of Trustees

Kenneth Sumter
Chairman of
College Board
of Trustees

Mr. Kenneth Sumter, the chairman of the College Board of Trustees, asked for a moment of silence in memory of Nat Giancola, a trustee who passed away recently. In his address to the group, Sumter reminded the assembly, “We are interdependent on, not independent of, each other.”

Sonia Rosado - Freeholder Director
Sonia Rosado
Freeholder Director

“You are graduating at one of the best and one of the worst times in history,” said, Ms. Sonia Rosado, director the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, who reminded students of both opportunities and challenges ahead of them and urged them to “make your own history. “Growing up in Puerto Rico,” Rosado said, “I never dreamed that one day I’d be standing here as the first Hispanic Freeholder in the history of Passaic County.” Recalling that in her college days “minorities were almost invisible on college campuses,” she declared, “PCCC is like a United Nations…and with your education, you can make the world a better place.”

Daniel Michelotti - Phi Theta Kappa Member

Daniel Michelotti
Phi Theta Kappa

Daniel Michelotti, who graduated with  a 3.9 grade point average and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges,  introduced the evening’s commencement speaker David J. Socolow, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce.

David J. Socolow - Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce
David J. Socolow
Commissioner of the
New Jersey
Department of
Labor and Workforce

“Community colleges play a vital and special role for citizens in the workforce,” declared Socolow who said it was important to recognize not only “higher education, but deeper and more relevant education in today’s global society.”

Socolow praised community colleges as “uniquely American” affording opportunities to everyone and training people in the skills that touch on every stage of human life. “The quality of Passaic County Community College is recognized in industry,” said Socolow.
“Tonight’s graduates,” he added, “will earn an average of $400,000 more throughout a lifetime” than workers who did not attend college.
“Don’t say goodbye to college,” Socolow continued, urging students to pursue “lifelong learning.”  Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King on the important of both “intelligence plus character,” Socolow exhorted graduates to uphold the virtues of empathy and tolerance along with their education. “Carry these values forth in the country and the world.”

Dr. Jacqueline Kineavy - Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

Dr. Jacqueline Kineavy
Senior Vice President
for Academic and
Student Affairs

Dr. Jacqueline Kineavy, the senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs introduced the valedictorian of the Class of 2008 Jessica Hoffman, who graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and a degree in business administration.  “Jessica is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and was named to the New Jersey Collegiate Business Administration Honor Society and the New Jersey All-Academic Community College Team,” said Dr. Kineavy who noted the young woman will continue her education at Fairleigh-Dickinson University.

Jessica Hoffman - Valedictorian
Jessica Hoffman

In her valedictory address, Hoffman reiterated the theme of the commencement with a quote from former president Jimmy Carter who said “we become not a melting pot but a mosaic,” and she called the College a mosaic of diversity and of efforts. “A college degree is not handed to you, you have to earn it,” she said, praising her fellow graduates for having earned “the right to be here tonight.”  Drawing enthusiastic cheers, Hoffman also praised “the dedicated staff and faculty” of the College. “Whatever challenges we face in the future, Passaic County Community College has prepared us to excel.” 
Joyful shouts and cheers rose up as associate degrees and certificates were conferred on graduates. “Do you feel different?” Dr. Rose joked after candidates had been formally graduated and symbolically moved the tassels of their caps from the right side to the left. “This is not the end of education for you,” the president continued. “Many of you will go on for your baccalaureate degrees and master’s degrees and PhD’s,” he added. “We expect to see a lot more letters after your names.”

The Reverend - Randall Lassiter

The Reverend
Randall Lassiter

The Reverend Randall Lassiter (Church of the Abundance in Paterson) offered the benediction. “Bless these graduates,” he prayed, “as they go forth tonight.” 
A reception prepared by students of the College’s food service program ended the happy celebration.