Passaic County Community College
May 23, 2013
Congratulations Class of 2013
The largest class in PCCC history graduated May 23, 2013 in an inspirational ceremony held on the Main Campus in Paterson.
Cheers and applause filled the campus gymnasium over and over again for the 773 students in the Class of 2013 who received their associate’s degrees or certificates.
“Only 30 per cent of adults in this country have one of these,” said President Steven M. Rose, holding up a diploma. “This gives you a whole lot of power,” he added, before charging the graduates to “go on get that master’s degree and doctoral degree.”
The theme of every PCCC commencement is “Celebrate Our Diversity,” and flags of 43 nations presented the backdrop for the ceremony. These represented the various birth nations of the graduates.
In his welcoming remarks, President Rose noted the advantages PCCC students enjoyed in an environment that embraced ethnic, religious, and gender diversity. “You not only learned from your professors,” he said. “You got to learn from each other.”
The President acknowledged those graduates who faced particular challenges in making it to this milestone, those who worked full-time, part-time, or raised families while going to school. “You are all a tremendous success,” he said.
Each of the evening’s speakers emphasized the role that mutual support and the help of others played in the achievement of the graduates.
“There is a village mystique that came alive for you” said Harvey Nutter, Chairman of the PCCC Board of Trustees, as he reminded students to remember faculty, staff, and family members who made it possible for them to reach their goals.
In a moving address that drew repeated cheers from the audience, commencement speaker Sister Francis Raftery, the outgoing president of the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, urged students to be grateful for the families, teachers, and friends who helped them along the way.
“That you sit here tonight is evidence that people cared about you,” she said, reminding the graduates to always remember that they are also part of a global family.
“You will not be able to move forward unless you sit at the table of the world,” said Sister Francis. She added, “I wish you joy, peace, and just enough sorrow to learn that there is a force more powerful than you are guiding your life.”
Echoing the theme of gratitude in his valedictory address, Ted Reinhardt of Paterson, told his fellow graduates, “Like all great accomplishments, this is not a solo act.”
The science major who graduated with a 4.0 GPA and highest honors thanked his family, “I couldn’t have done it without your support,” and the faculty of PCCC, especially Professor Martin Bookbinder for “his unfailing belief in my abilities” and science professors Fred Safarowic, Brian Holton, and Marcin Baronowski for their guidance and support.
Ted, who plans a career in astrophysics, urged the Class of 2013 not to “let this success be our last,” and to “look toward bright futures.”
Bruce James, the director of the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, commended the students for their hard work, but also noted the role PCCC played in bringing them to this point.
“When you’re here, you’re family,” he said. “and we want to make sure you graduate.”
He exhorted students “not to forget PCCC’ in their future endeavors.
Reminding the graduates that their future success started here, Mr. James told the audience that there is a bigger story than that of personal success. “Nothing is more important to the foundation of a country than education,” he said.