The Class of 2013
As is tradition, Dr. Edward J. Yaw, County College of Morris (CCM) president, served as the 2013 Commencement speaker to highlight the success of several students who embody the mission of CCM – to provide a place where people can succeed and reach for their dreams. Here are the stories he shared.
Lina Maria Alfonso
, of Parsippany, originally planned to attend Rutgers with the goal of becoming a doctor. But after reviewing just how expensive that education would be, she turned to CCM to start her higher education.
Calling it the best decision she has made, Alfonso not only found great success in and out of the classroom at CCM, she also won multiple scholarships along the way. After graduating in the top 6 percent of her high school class, the NJ STARS program gave her a full academic scholarship. Three additional CCM scholarships helped cover the costs of lab fees, insurance and books.
Her dedication and that scholarship support allowed her to become a very active and important part of the college community. She served as president of the Volunteer Club, as a senator on the Student Government Association and as a member of its Diversity Committee. In addition, she ran an important voter registration program on campus to promote the $750-million Building Our Future Bond Act, which will be used for academic and research facilities at colleges across New Jersey.
Alfonso graduated CCM with a 3.934 GPA. She is now taking the next step toward her dream as a student at Rutgers University.
, of Randolph, was the victim of a violent, traumatic event at the age of 16 and suffered through years of depression before she finally came to CCM.
Battling with the emotional aftermath of her experience, she received counseling and support through the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) at CCM so she could forge ahead with her life. When she first came to the college, Barrett shielded her face with a hoodie and kept to herself. That began to turn around when her EOF counselors persuaded her to do some public speaking at EOF orientation sessions, holiday events and at its awards dinner.
She also exceled in her academics, as evidenced by her induction into Phi Theta Kappa and Chi Alpha Epsilon and 3.215 GPA. And she accomplished all that while working and caring for an infant son.She currently works as a nurse’s assistant at Morristown Medical Center. Upon passing the state nursing exam, Barrett plans to seek a position as a registered nurse. Eventually, she hopes to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing.
, of Succasunna, initially did not want to attend CCM because his mother works at the college. But once he became involved in classes, he discovered a love of learning.
He majored in liberal arts because he was not sure what he wanted to do with his life, and that major allowed him to find his niche – psychology.
One of the things Cadden said that he appreciates most about his time at CCM was the assistance he received from professors. He’d never experienced the support of mentors before and the ones he found at CCM helped him grow in all areas of his life.While earning his degree, Cadden worked part-time as an Information Technology aid at CCM and participated in the Gay-Straight Alliance.
This fall he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Rutgers University. He would like to become a psychologist and also wants to be a human rights activist. Toward that end, he’s also learning Spanish and Russian.
, of Morristown, came here from another continent as a young man in the pursuit of learning. Marmolejo knew he wanted to work in health care. Upon arriving in the United States from Colombia, he secured a job at Morristown Medical Center transporting patients throughout the hospital to medical tests. That gave him a chance to research first-hand the various careers available in the medical field. He discovered that nursing was his calling, and that one of the best nursing programs in the area was at CCM. Still working full-time, he pursued his degree.
Marmolejo knew that the nursing program would be hard and was prepared to apply himself. What he didn’t expect was that in his first semester he would meet the woman he wanted spend his life with, fellow nursing student and 2013 graduate, Geselle Andrade.
Marmolejo, who was promoted to nursing assistant at Morristown Medical Center, plans to continue his education while working to earn his bachelor’s degree in nursing.
, of Boonton, followed a circuitous yet inspirational path to academic success. A horrific family tragedy when he was 8 years old derailed any immediate academic interests. The loss of his parents to a murder-suicide left him searching for purpose, eventually leading him across the country and then to Mexico after he graduated high school.
While in Mexico, the kindness he experienced from the people he met there and the way they tackled their daily struggles gave him a renewed faith in mankind. It brought him back to New Jersey with the goal of helping others.
At CCM, Moore found the tools and support to achieve the academic success that puts him in a position to make an impact. He became a member of the Student Government Association and was vice president of leadership for Phi Theta Kappa. He also was selected to the New Jersey All-State Academic Team for two-year colleges. This past spring, he also learned he was one of 73 students selected nationwide to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship. That scholarship will provide him with up to $30,000 per year while he pursues his bachelor’s degree.
Eventually, Moore, who graduated CCM with a 3.909 GPA, wants to serve as a leader in human rights and labor law, which he believes will allow him to make life better for others.
When Chaz Weiner
, of Flanders, was about to enter high school, he reached out to CCM to enrich his academic experience. Born with spinal muscular atrophy, which left his muscles too weak to walk, Weiner has never let the disease hold him back.
At first, he planned to attend CCM as a Challenger student, which would have allowed him to take college courses as part of his high school education. But upon taking his placement tests and acing them, he was informed he could do so much more. At the age of 15, he began taking classes at CCM as a fully matriculated college student. This past spring, he was awarded his high school diploma. And in May at age 16, he left CCM with his associate’s degree and a 3.697 GPA. This fall, he is enrolled at the honors college at the University of Arizona, where he plans to pursue his undergraduate degree in finance. He is driven to show others with disabilities that great things are possible and dreams one day of sitting in the front office of a National Football League team as its general manager.