38th Commencement

Flowers at the PCCC main entrance

38TH COMMENCEMENT – May 20, 2010

The largest graduating class in PCCC history - 486 students from PCCC’s four campuses – Paterson, Passaic, Wanaque, and Wayne – received their Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, or their professional certificates, on May 20 at the 38th Commencement.

Cheers rang out in the gymnasium at the Paterson campus, where families and friends of the graduates gathered for the  ceremonies, when President Steven Rose, in his welcome speech, announced the size of the historic group and other statistics about the Class of 2010. “This class represents 54 nations,” he said, noting that the theme of the commencement, “Celebrating Our Diversity,” was depicted by a wall displaying flags of all the nations represented in the graduating class. “We’re running out of wall space,” he commented, generating a wave of laughter. 

President Rose said the Class of 2010 also represented every community in Passaic County as well as a wide range of age groups. Two of the graduates were over 60 years old, and one of them, Vivian Clayton, had started her college education in 1978. Like many who attended PCCC over the years, Clayton was a working parent who often interrupted her education to attend to the demands of daily life. To all the graduates who had similar challenges, President Rose exclaimed, “It’s absolutely wonderful you are here tonight,” you should be very proud.”

Opening Exercises
The academic procession of graduates, faculty, and administration filed in to the strains of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.”  The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Evelyn L. Van Dutern of the graduating class and followed by the entire assembly singing “God Bless America.”

Revered Randall Lassiter gave the invocation, expressing gratitude that the graduates were guided “through time and are one step closer to their destiny.” In congratulations to the graduates, Kenneth Sumter, chairman of the PCCC Board of Trustees, told the class of 2010, “You are a shining star.”

Official Greeting: Mr. Bruce James, Freeholder
The official greeting of the evening was offered by Mr. Bruce James, director of Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders who praised PCCC for the educational options it offers to so many. “For some people, if they don’t have this college, they have no other choice,” said James.  He urged the graduates and their guests to “keep this College fully funded” in the future, particularly by exercising their right to vote for the people and measures that support higher education.  “It’s the American way,” he said of the power of the vote.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Arnold Speert, President of WPU
Commencement speaker Dr. Arnold Speert the outgoing president of William Paterson University, gave a heartfelt speech that stressed the importance of acknowledging those whose previous work and sacrifice contributed to the lives we lead today. He invited all the graduates to stand and “thank your families and loved ones who supported you so you could be here.”

Considering his own impending retirement, Dr. Speert spoke about the changes life brings, both personal and professional, and the importance of rising above challenging circumstances, such as the current recession. “You now have the ability to not just cope with, but also influence things like that,” he told the graduates. “Go forth today, convinced you will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.” 

Valedictorian: Mercci Gonzalez, B.S. Business Administration
Mercci Gonzalez, a Passaic resident who graduated with a 4.0 average, delivered a valedictory address that drew a standing ovation for its spirited and refreshing message. The winner of numerous academic honors, Gonzalez turned the spotlight on her fellow graduates, acknowledging their less illustrious, but hard-won accomplishments. “When a student works 40 to 60 hours a week, but makes time to study for an exam, and passes the exam with flying colors, that’s impressive.  When an ESL student who did not speak English as a first language, stands up in front of a class and presents a business plan, that’s impressive,” she affirmed, drawing cheers with each declaration.   

Conferring of Degrees and President’s Charge
Dr. Jacqueline Kineavy, PCCC’s vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, presented the candidates for graduation.
After he conferred the degrees and certificates on the graduates, Dr.  Rose, in his official charge to the Class of 2010, commended them for their decision to come to college. In a world that offers few “sure things,” the president said, “There is one sure thing. When you came to PCCC, you invested in yourself, and that’s a great investment.” 

Following the benediction by Rev. Lassiter and recessional, a reception for the graduates and their guests was held in the College cafeteria and gallery.