Assistant Marshals lead the Class of 2015 into the Prudential Center
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 http://new.livestream.com/essexcountycollege and enjoy.