It was a golden anniversary at Montgomery County Community College on Thursday as 1,487 students celebrated their transition to graduates at the College’s 50th Commencement ceremony.
The College, which was founded in 1964, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding almost three years ago, but MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollock said the historic graduation ceremony was as important as the College’s founding.
“It represents the primary goal of the institution, and for you as graduates, the successful completion of your degree or certificate program,” Dr. Pollock said. “The 50th anniversary is also known as the Golden Anniversary, and tonight, you are golden.”
Dr. Pollock described the graduating class as “remarkably diverse,” ranging in age from 14 to 72, including 47 military veterans, and representing 11 countries across the globe. He also praised college’s student body for logging 20,000 hours of service – much of it within Montgomery County – including donating 134 pints of blood, collecting hundreds of books to promote literacy and planting hundreds of trees in the community.
“Don’t ever lose your drive to change the world,” Dr. Pollock said. “You will make a difference.”
Keeping to the theme of community service, MCCC Board of Trustees Chairperson Richard Montalbano called on graduates to seek their roles as citizens in society.
“We need you, as you graduate, to embrace the full responsibilities of citizenship, to seek to succeed for yourself and others, to assume the responsibility to be part of the solution to our society’s confounding problems,” Montalbano said.
Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, encouraged the graduates to take stock of their accomplishments and celebrate, but also to think about how they can serve their community. "Eighty-one percent of you live and work right here in Montgomery County," Dr. Arkoosh said. "You are an important part of the economic vibrancy of the County. I urge you to never lose sight of the needs of our community as a whole. Working together, we can create an inclusive and respectful community for everyone."
Natalie Lang of Flourtown, Pa. addressed her classmates as the recipient of the Student Commencement Speaker Award. As a graduate of the Dental Hygiene program, Lang excelled academically and discovered a passion for community service that she is dedicated to continuing in her career. She volunteered in low-cost community health dental clinics and participated in children’s dental sealant events organized by the Dental Hygiene program at the College. She also conducted several self-directed dental education presentations throughout the region.
“I think it’s important to recognize not only what the College has done for us, but also what we, as graduates of Montgomery County Community College will do for others,” Lang said. “We have chosen to better ourselves in order to become educated professionals who will represent positive forces in our community.”
In addition to celebrating its graduates, the College also presented two prestigious faculty awards, Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award sponsored by Barnes & Noble.
Dr. Christopher Harendza of Lansdale, Pa., a professor of biology at the College, received the Lindback Award. A member of the faculty since 1992, Harendza became a professor in 2005, and served in a temporary administrative role as interim dean of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Division in 2012.
The Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards were presented to Dr. Daniel Bassi of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., a senior lecturer in Biology; and Ann Forrestal of Coopersburg, Pa., a lecturer in Computer Applications.