Montgomery County Community College celebrated its 52nd Commencement on recently during a special ceremony held at its Central Campus in Blue Bell.

“All of us at Montgomery County Community College are committed to the success of our students – it is the core of our mission. It’s what we do,” said Dr. Kevin Pollock, MCCC’s President, during the ceremony. “Standing at 1,404 graduates who collectively earned 1,417 degrees and certificates, the Class of 2019 is proof of our commitment.”

The class, ranging in age from 18 to 69 years, includes 91 Municipal Police Academy graduates, 44 veterans/active military personnel, 29 Culinary Arts Institute graduates, and 26 international graduates. Fourteen students graduated from the Honors Program, 256 graduates are members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and three graduates are members of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society. Forty graduates have a 4.0 GPA and 670 students graduated with honors.

MCCC Board of Trustees Chair Frank X. Custer congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to continue the next steps in their journey.

“Tonight marks a wonderful milestone for all of you, but it is not an end. That is why this is called a commencement – a beginning,” Custer said. “Your stories will have many more chapters, and I hope that all of us have played at least a small part in giving you the tools to write chapters filled with accomplishment and happiness.”

This year’s Commencement Speaker was MCCC’s Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Digital Officer Dr. Celeste M. Schwartz of Ambler. A graduate of MCCC, Dr. Schwartz is beginning the 50th year of her career at the College, starting in the data processing department and working her way up to her current position.

Along the way, she continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University, a master’s degree in Computer Science from Villanova University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Walden University. In addition, she taught Computer Science classes as a part-time instructor at MCCC for more than 20 years.

In 2018, Dr. Schwartz received the national EDUCAUSE Leadership Award, which recognizes exemplary leadership that has a significant impact on advancing information technology in higher education. Dr. Schwartz is one of only three community college leaders in the country to receive this award. Locally, she was honored with the 2018 Growth Award at the Women’s Lifestyle Conference as an inspirational achiever in her profession. In 2002, she was inducted into the college’s Alumni Hall of Fame.

During her speech, Dr. Schwartz talked about the important role of mentors in her life and how she, in turn, mentored students, employees and colleagues. At the end of her speech, she asked the graduates to take a moment to think about the people who helped them reach their goals and to thank them with a text or tweet.

“When you leave this evening’s ceremony, I hope you carry with you the message that you have the power to positively impact the lives of others – one individual at a time,” said Dr. Schwartz, encouraging the Class of 2019 to reach out and help others.

This year’s Student Commencement Speaker was Logan Brianne Harrison, a Human Services major from Pottstown. She spoke about her experience at MCCC, which started with the Gateway to College Program — a program for high school students who are at risk of not graduating.

“Once I learned what I was capable of, I wanted more for myself,” said Logan, who had some health concerns and fell behind in high school. “I turned my grades from D’s to A’s and graduated early from high school with awards, a high GPA and a strong support system.”

She then continued her studies at MCCC, while working two part-time jobs and volunteering with a local non-profit organization, In Ian’s Boots. Her plans include continuing her education at Chestnut Hill College and working in a career field where she can help others.

During the ceremony, MCCC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez presented the 2019 Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence to Assistant Professor of Accounting Heather Thomas for her exceptional teaching. Accounting Senior Lecturer Frank Bucci and Exercise Science and Wellness Senior Lecturer Michelle Donovan received the Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards in recognition of their work and dedication.

In celebration of her 50 years of dedication to students and their success, MCCC’s Foundation created the Dr. Celeste M. Schwartz Legacy Fund for student scholarships in STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Source: Montgomery County Community College

Contact Johann Calhoun at newseditor@phillytrib.com or call at (215) 893-5739

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