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CCM Educational Opportunity Fund Students Honored

Four Recognized with Statewide Awards - Posted 5/2/14
Four County College of Morris (CCM) Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) students have been honored for academic achievement by the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.

Cristian Aroca, of Dover, won the Distinguished Scholar Award; Michael Cardoza, of Dover, and Jaslyn Rodriguez, of Totowa, won the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award; and Johanny Toro, of Madison, won the Outstanding Achievement Award.
Distinguished Scholar Awards are given to seniors who have maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 throughout their college career. Aroca was one of only six students throughout the state to receive this honor.

Outstanding Academic Achievement Awards are presented to seniors who have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.50-3.99, and Outstanding Achievement Awards are awarded to those students deemed to best exemplify the spirit and intent of the EOF program.

“We at CCM’s Educational Opportunity Fund are very proud of these inspirational and resilient students and the recognition they have received,” said Pam Marcenaro, director of CCM’s EOF program. “Their achievement is a tribute to what providing academic support and financial assistance can do for the dreams of students who might not otherwise be able receive a college education. All of these students are now going to continue their education and pursue their bachelor’s degree. We have no doubt their successes will carry on.”

Each year, the EOF Board of Directors and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education invite campus programs to identify graduating EOF students who have demonstrated exceptional achievement during their college careers. A total of 767 EOF students were recognized statewide.

The New Jersey EOF highlighted Aroca, a graduate of Dover High School, when announcing the awards. Aroca, who enrolled in CCM in Fall Semester 2011, immigrated to the United States from Columbia as an elementary school child following the death of his father. He painted his first landscape at the age of 5 and cherishes childhood memories of his “small, perfect town” of Tunia in his beloved Colombia. Since childhood, he has dreamed of putting his creative abilities to use by sharing his love of art with others. He saw art as a means to inspire young minds to think creatively through artistic self-expression. His interest in art continued to develop during high school and he decided to pursue a degree in art education at CCM.

While at CCM, Aroca was an active member of the EOF program and the EOF Alliance while maintaining a GPA of 4.0 throughout his six semesters.  He has participated in community service and EOF workshops, and has been a consistent presence in the EOF office. He has been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society, and received EOF academic achievement awards every semester. As a member of the EOF Alliance club, he created the club’s new logo.

CCM professors have praised his art and describe him as respectful, eager to learn, and a pleasure to have in class. His artwork has been on display at the college and in local museums.
EOF provides financial assistance and support services to students from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds who meet academic requirements.

“Many students receiving awards are the first in their families to attend college. We are very proud of the students in the EOF family,” said New Jersey EOF Program Director Audrey Bennerson. “The success of the students is due to their own hard work, and the dedication and attention to detail paid by the program directors and staff on 41 campuses around the state.”
For more information about EOF, please visit

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Photo: County College of Morris (CCM) student Cristian Aroca, left, stands with Pam Marcenaro, director of the CCM Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF). Aroca was one of four CCM EOF students to be honored with statewide awards by the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. Aroca has maintained a 4.0 GPA for his entire college career and was one of only six recipients in New Jersey of the Distinguished Scholar Award.