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ECC President Dr. Augustine Boakye is flanked by Valedictorian Zachary Miller and Salutatorian Yulanda Spencer
Assistant Marshals (from left) Favour Ogbinaka, Yen Pham, Rafiatou Bikienga, Lissette Fuentes and Jesutomi Ayetan
Proud members of the Class of 2023
NJ State Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz address the Class of 2023
Essex County College’s 54th annual Commencement was held on Friday, June 2 with 1,096 graduates receiving their hard-earned Associate degrees. The ceremony was held at Newark’s Prudential Center.
“Our class made it through the Covid-19 pandemic. We overcame so many struggles to succeed with unique stories on our journeys to get to this point. We are now ready to take on the world’s expanding technologies,” said class Valedictorian Zachary Miller. The Engineering major, with a 4.0 grade point average, is heading to Cornell University this Fall.
Yulanda Spencer, a Criminal Justice major, served as Salutatorian. She also has a 4.0 GPA and has transferred to Rutgers University-Newark School of Criminal Justice.
In her keynote address, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz talked about the power of education. “Opportunity comes in different ways. The question is, are you ready for the opportunity. I want you to be successful in life. We all must contribute to the fabric of this country.” Senator Ruiz received an honorary Essex County College Associate degree.
ECC’s President, Dr. Augustine A. Boakye, presided over the Commencement.
There were five Assistant Marshals in the Class of 2203: Jesutomi Ayetan (Biology, Pre-Medicine with a 4.0 average); Rafiatou Bikienga (Biology, Pre-Medicine with a 3.95 average); Lissette Fuentes (Accounting with a 4.0 average); Favour Ogbinaka (Engineering with a 3.95 average), and Yen Pham (General Science with a 4.0 average) have the honor of leading today’s processional.
The youngest graduate in the class was Zainab Folarin, 18, with an Associate degree in General Science. The oldest new alumna was Mary Moore, 68, with a degree in Liberal Arts.
Biology Professor Dr. Frank Duroy served as this year’s Grand Marshal. Congratulatory greetings were also given by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and Maria Heidkamp, from the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.
Among this year’s graduates were 107 high school students in the College’s Dual Enrollment program. They represented Newark East Side High School (67 in Liberal Arts), Essex County Schools of Technology – Newark Tech (24 in Liberal Arts), Orange High School (5 in Liberal Arts), and Newark West Side High School (11 in Business Administration). They were recognized during the ceremony and called up by name to receive their degrees.