With horns honking and families cheering, Montgomery County Community College and the Class of 2021 celebrated its 54th Commencement during three drive-in ceremonies on Thursday, May 20, held at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m.
Starting in the morning, the graduates filled the Morris Road parking lot in decorated cars for each ceremony. The Class of 2021 has 1,146 graduates who earned 1,168 degrees and certificates. Thirty-one students graduated with a perfect 4.0, and 388 students are first-generation college graduates.
“As each of you walks across this stage, you will be taking the first steps into the next chapter of your life,” said Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez, MCCC President, during the ceremony. “I am confident that you are ready to inspire, lead, and transform the world. Your education at Montco has prepared you for this day and for all the opportunities and challenges beyond it.”
MCCC Board of Trustees Chair Frank X. Custer congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to continue the next steps in their journey.
“Mustangs – now is the time to go forth and pursue your next goal and then the next one. Seek opportunities. Learn all you can. Never fear failure but learn from it. Be kind to one another and remember to help others in need,” Custer said.
Kenneth Lawrence, Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners; Joseph Gallagher, Chair of MCCC’s Foundation Board; and William Vitiello, Chair of MCCC’s Alumni Board, shared messages of congratulations and inspiration through video presentations.
Members of the Class of 2021 range in age from 15 to 66, with Abigail Brand, of Gilbertsville, as the youngest graduate, and Carmen Long, of Roslyn, as the oldest. Brand earned her associate’s degree in Liberal Studies and a Specialty Certificate in Public Relations. She plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications.
Selected to serve as this year’s student commencement speaker, Brand spoke about the importance of seeking opportunities, making connections and taking risks.
“Taking a long shot can be scary, because there’s always a chance you might miss,” said Brand, during her video-recorded message. “But, if we stand on the sidelines, we completely lose the chance to succeed. So go ahead. Take that shot. Because in the end, when we look back, our biggest regret isn’t our failures. It’s our missed opportunities.”
For graduate Annamarie Parker of Philadelphia, her associate’s degree in Liberal Studies was the culmination of years of hard work and persistence. Parker, who is legally blind, started taking classes in 2011 at another college and then transferred to MCCC in 2019.
She credits MCCC’s Director of Disability Services Alecia Weiss and faculty for helping her reach her goal, while she was working as a senior supervisor at the nonprofit company, VisionCorps of Lancaster.
“Montgomery County Community College is an excellent place, especially if you have a disability,” said Parker. “If you apply yourself, and do your part, as long as they supply the tools for you, you will succeed, too.”
In addition to celebrating its graduates, the College presented the 2021 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence to Dr. Steven Baron, Associate Professor of Psychology, for his exceptional service.
“Dr. Baron is the type of professor who is willing to go the extra mile for students,” said Dr. Gloria Oikelome, MCCC Vice President for Academic Affairs as she presented the award. “Despite his extraordinarily busy schedule, he makes himself available to help students with class and life issues.”
In addition to the Lindback award, MCCC presented the Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards sponsored by eCampus Bookstore to Valerie Baker, Psychology Senior Lecturer and Amy Vallette, Biology Senior Lecturer, in recognition of their work and dedication.
Before the ceremony started, the graduates watched a video of the song “The Courage to Transform” created by their classmates Corey Deck, Justin Fisher, Louis Rieger, Sarah Kane, Bobby Dreher, and Stephen Niven, together with the assistance of David Ivory, Director of MCCC’s Sound Recording & Music Technology Program; Michael Kelly, Music Assistant Professor; and Matt Porter, Senior Producer, and Technical Services Manager.
For more information on Montgomery County Community College, visit https://www.mc3.edu.