Essex County College celebrated its 48th annual Commencement Friday, May 26 with 1,318 Associate degrees and certificates awarded to graduates. The ceremony for the Class of 2017 was held at the Prudential Center, Newark.
This year’s class included 201 students graduating with Honors, High Honors and Highest Honors. At 18, Jacob Barnett (Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts with Highest Honors) is the youngest Essex graduate. He leaves the College after earning a 3.98 grade point average. On the other side of the spectrum, Corliss Davis (Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies) is 69 years young.
This year’s class came from 54 municipalities throughout New Jersey, with Essex County having graduates from 21 municipalities, and 26 foreign countries. Among the countries represented by the class were Brazil, Cameroon, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Liberia, Nigeria, Panama, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turkey.
Newly named President Anthony E. Munroe told the class, “We honor you and the support you received from your families.” Dr. Munroe requested all graduates to turn toward their families in the audience “and express your loudest appreciation. They are the ones who helped make this day and your dream a reality; you have earned it.”
Valedictorian Jessica Intili, who graduated with a perfect 4.0 (Associate in Science in General Science) urged her classmates to, “Go out into the world and let your light singe, and show what Essex County College graduates can do.” The 25 year old Caldwell resident plans to attend William Paterson University in the fall where she will major in Public Health. “The point of our time at Essex wasn’t to prove that we were better or higher achieving than anybody else. The purpose was to do our best.”
Alyssa Hawkins, a Liberal Arts major with a 4.0, served as this year’s Salutatorian. The 19 year-old will attend Seton Hall University where she will major in English and History with an eye on going to law school. As an Essex student, Alyssa served as Editor-In-Chief of the Essex County College Observer Magazine.
Judge Bahir Kamil, ’81, an Essex County Superior Court Judge, served as Keynote Speaker. “Always remember where you came from, but dream where you want to go. Stay strong and stay determined,” said the lifelong Newark resident. “Being educated makes you a better person.” He credited Essex for helping pave the way for him to go to law school and now serve on the Superior Court.
President Emeritus Dr. A. Zachary Yamba, who served as acting president the past 13 months prior to Dr. Munroe, presided at the ceremony. He congratulated the Class of 2017 on their accomplishments. “Bravo,” he told the cheering grads.
Retired Biology Professor Byron Johnson, professor emeritus, served as Grand Marshal to the Class of 2017.