CCC president, graduates share a ‘first’ commencement


By President Dr. Thomas Isekenegbe

I will remember Cumberland County College’s 2010 commencement for the rest of my life. On the big day, the sun was shining in a bright blue sky, after rain storms earlier in the week. The campus looked pristine, thanks to our outstanding facilities staff. And the speakers were superb as the college and the community gathered to cheer the courage and accomplishments of this historic class.

The event was a first-time experience for me and many of the graduates. Last Thursday’s commencement was my first as CCC’s president, and 80 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to receive a college degree.

This was CCC’s largest graduating class with 627 students. The 502 first generation graduates are role models for their families and friends. They are living proof that – even when there are substantial obstacles - dreams can be fulfilled at our neighborhood community college. The first generation graduates will inspire others to attend college, and this will certainly strengthen our community. Educated people provide essential services, and many become community leaders.

The 2010 graduating class is representative of the community’s diversity. Their ages range from 18 to 68. Twenty-two graduates are over the age of 50. The graduates represent cultures from all over the world including India, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Russia, Kenya, Brazil, Poland, South Korea, the Dominican Republic and many other countries.

Female students represent 69 percent of the graduating class, with 434 women and 193 men receiving CCC degrees. These numbers are similar to the male-female graduation rates at many colleges throughout America, but we need to address this challenge. We need to get more male students to the finish line because most careers in the 21st century require post-secondary education.

One hundred and seven students who earned bachelor’s or master’s degrees at the on-campus Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center got their degrees conferred at CCC’s commencement. The students earned degrees from Fairliegh Dickinson University, Georgian Court University, Montclair University, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Rowan University and Wilmington University.

There were many heroic people at the college’s 43th commencement. No one earns a college degree alone. Along the way, our graduates received a lot of help from many caring people.

Student speaker Amanda Padro told the audience: “Thank you to our families who have sacrificed so much and worked so hard to help us get here. Thank you to our professors, advisors, coaches, mentors and friends who believed in us.”

Congratulations to the graduates and all the fine people who attended this unforgettable, milestone event.