After presiding over the College’s 46th annual Commencement on May 15 where a record 1,505 graduates received their Associate degrees and Certificates, Dr. Gibson served as keynote speaker at Pillar College’s Commencement May 16. Her speech, “The Power of Doing Good,” received a standing ovation at the ceremony, held at Newark’s Old First (Presbyterian) Church.


Dr. Gibson’s advice to the Pillar graduates was some of the same advice she received from her grandmother growing up in Barbados. “I was given the gift of competence, skill, resourcefulness and determination.


“Growing up in Barbados, she, like many older people, had the gift of wisdom. And she would use stories, saying and adages to teach me lessons that she knew I would need for life. She was an extremely religious woman and I learned that the foundations for her adages were from her spiritual and biblical grounding.


“My advice to you is to use your gifts for good and to celebrate the power of good.”


Dr. Gibson donated her honorarium back to Pillar College in the form of a scholarship.


Essex and Pillar began a partnership last year with a transfer agreement. That agreement allows Essex students who earned an Associate in Arts or an Associate in Science to transfer to Pillar with full junior status. Earlier this year, the two colleges approved a guaranteed reverse credit transfer agreement whereby students who earned a minimum of 30 credits from Essex and enroll at Pillar may also be awarded an Associate degree. That degree will be from Essex.


The Essex Commencement was live streamed with 4,000 views spread over 15 countries in five continents. Countries where graduation was viewed included Peru, Brazil, United Kingdom, Morocco, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Guyana, Nigeria, Egypt, Bermuda, Spain, China, Colombia, Canada and Turkey.


In other Commencement season news, Dr. Gibson announced that at the May 6 Scholarship Awards Night, $173,529 in scholarship money was awarded to Class of 2015 members.


Dr. Gale E. Gibson with Pillar College President Dr. David E. Schroeder (center) and Dr. David Wright, President of Indiana Wesleyan UniversityIMG_6942



Posted in Essex County College News
Assistant Marshals lead the Class of 2015 into the Prudential Center

Assistant Marshals lead the Class of 2015 into the Prudential Center

President Dr. Gale E. Gibson addresses the Class of 2015

President Dr. Gale E. Gibson addresses the Class of 2015

Essex County College’s 46th annual Commencement is historic as the largest in school history with 1,505 graduates receiving their hard earned Associate degrees and certificates. The ceremony on May 15 at Newark’s Prudential Center attracted more than 5,000 people.


The Class of 2015 clearly excelled academically. Two graduates – Dayana Arrue and Jessica Bennett – are recipients of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, worth $120,000 in aid over three years.  The College has produced 10 Cooke scholarship winners in the past four years, second highest nationally.


This year’s class included 16 students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. A total of 322 graduates attained a 3.5 average or higher, qualifying them as graduating with honors.  The class had 42 percent receiving degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and Nursing & Allied Health, the largest number of STEM graduates in College history.


“Today I challenge you to persist in your thirst for knowledge, grasp possibilities beyond your surroundings, and embrace your imagination and search for innovation that propels your career,” President Dr. Gale E. Gibson said in her remarks to the class. “At Essex you have been given the foundation to help you soar. View your graduation as your ticket to continue toward unknown explorations to fulfill your dreams.”


The list of four year schools where Essex graduates are transferring mirrors Dr. Gibson’s advice to soar. Among the transfer destinations are Brown University (Erika Ruales), Rice University (Emmanuel Arhewoh), Boston University (Wesley Rivera), Northeastern (Jessica Bennett), along with others going to Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Montclair State University, Seton Hall University, Kean University, and many others.


Both this year’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian are 19-year-olds from Nigeria, and both have medical career aspirations.


Ernest Dimbo, with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, tops the class. He received his Associate in Science in Biology, Pre-Medicine. Ernest plans to obtain his medical degree and then conduct stem cell research. He used his Valedictorian address to salute his classmates. “The fact that you are sitting here is a testament to your determination; you are achievers and you can make a difference.”


Fellow Nigerian and this year’s Salutatorian, Emmanuel Arhewoh, has earned his Associate in Science in General Science. Also boasting a 4.0 average, he will major in biotechnology at Rice before attending medical school.


In what is becoming an Essex Commencement tradition, student Jennifer Wicker sang “This is My Time,” a graduation anthem written by Essex faculty members Michael Pekarofski and Richard Alston – who also provided the piano accompaniment.


With graduates hailing from 17 different nations, Dr. Gibson said this year’s class is a perfect example of the school serving as a melting pot. “No matter where you are from, Essex County College provides you with the tools to succeed in life. I’m very proud of this class and I know they will exceed expectations as they move on after our Commencement.”


The Rev. M. William Howard, pastor of Newark’s Bethany Baptist Church, delivered the keynote address to the graduates and their families. He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. In his address, Rev Howard urged the graduates to continue to achieve and aspire. He also delivered a challenge. “Help end racism and materialism. Make our cities places of peace and redemption; places where all lives matter.”


Once again the class had teen to senior citizen members. Ages of the graduates ranged from 17 to 68. Two mothers also graduated with their daughters, making the ceremony a true family affair.


Members of this year’s class reside throughout Essex County and a number of municipalities in surrounding counties.  In addition, there are students from Brazil, Cameroon, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Liberia, Nigeria, Panama, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turkey.


Longtime Business Professor Harry Bernstein served as this year’s Grand Marshal.


If you missed Commencement or would like to see it again, go to  and enjoy.

Posted in Academic, Essex County College News

Seven Wolverine student-athletes were recognized with All-American status after placing this past weekend at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Outdoor Track & Field Championships held in Kansas.


Taska Johnson placed third in the women’s 800 meter run while Chelsey Linton also finished third in the women’s heptathlon. Fourth place finishers were Ranee Ricketts in the women’s 100 meter dash, Kirk Lewis in the men’s 110 meter hurdles and Kadeisha Hield in the women’s long jump.  Terry Jernigan placed sixth in the men’s 100 meters as did Alexis Smith in the women’s 100 meter hurdles.


Sophomores Ranee and Alexis have medaled in every NJCAA championship – indoor and outdoor – during their time at Essex.


The timing of the meet caused five team members to miss Commencement 2015 where they would have received their Associate degrees. They include Taska (Liberal Arts), Ranee (Liberal Arts), Kirk (Liberal Arts), Kadeisha (Education), and Alexis (Liberal Arts). Chelsey and Terry are freshmen.

All-Americans and Coach Michael Smart

All-Americans and Coach Michael Smart

Both the women’s and men’s teams are coached by Michael Smart.


Posted in Athletics, Essex County College News