Bringing Hope and Health to a Community in Need

County College of Morris (CCM) recently awarded its 2018 Peace Prize, which is intended to inspire students to use their imagination and creativity in the design and production of a work that both commemorates the events of September 11, 2001 and makes a positive statement about the importance and pursuit of world peace.

This year, there were two winners, Mary Rose Cortes, of Morristown, and Diana Boehm, of Kenvil, both members of the CCM Student Nurses

Female student receives award.

Mary Rose Cortes receives her Peace Prize award from Professor Peter Maguire at the County College of Morris 49th Commencement Ceremony.

Association, who produced a video “Appalachia: Chasing Hope.” They, along with several other members of the Student Nurses Association, traveled to Gary, WV, in May 2017 to share their time and training with the families of that distressed community, whose high rates of childhood poverty, diabetes, malnutrition and other health-related needs warrant attention. The video Cortes and Boehm produced chronicles the Student Nurses Association’s efforts to teach, assist and offer hope to their fellow Americans. They rebuilt playgrounds, provided nutritional assessments and advice, monitored blood pressure and performed other screenings. The video can be viewed at

“The reason I chose to be a part of this project is because I know what it feels like to lose hope,” says Boehm. “We live in a time where it is easy to forget that there are people out there that care. I wanted to help remind people, not to give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope that by watching this, people are reminded that every person has the ability to make this world a place full of love and support for one another. Any effort made to show love in this world is a move into a positive direction.”

Female College Student

Diana Boehm, co-recipient of the County College of Morris 2018 Peace Prize award.

“The biggest issue there is hopelessness,” notes Cortes. “If they can see that we care, we work hard and persevere through our own struggles, then the children can learn to ascend to greatness and follow their dreams. We may never meet the men and women who these children will become, but it takes a farmer to sow the seed of hope. Once it’s sown, it is sown.”

The creator of the winning entry each year receives a $1,000 award, provided by the CCM Foundation. This year that award, at the request of Cortes and Boehm, is being donated to the School for Life in Gary, WV. Cortes and Boehm also will have their names added to a permanent plaque of Peace Prize winners located in the Student Community Center. Their faculty mentor for the project was Professor Buffy Reilly from the Department of Nursing. The award was presented during the college’s 49th commencement ceremony on May 25.

Honorable Mention was awarded to Mary Bruner, of Long Valley, and Brandi Clark, of Sparta, whose mentor was Dr. Kenneth Shouler, Department of English and Philosophy.

This is the 17th year the college has awarded its Peace Prize, which is organized and administered by Professor Peter Maguire of the Department of English and Philosophy.