315 Atlantic Cape graduates continue a ‘legacy of excellence’ (Slideshow)

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Students listen to commencement speakers at Atlantic Cape graduation Students listen to commencement speakers at Atlantic Cape graduation

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Rochelle Hendricks, the state’s first secretary of higher education, addressed the graduates at Atlantic Cape Community College’s 47th commencement ceremony Thursday, May 22 in the Jonathan Pitney Gymnasium. A decision was made early that morning to move the event from the archery field to the gymnasium due to the possibility of inclement weather.

Hendricks, the event’s keynote speaker, likened the challenges faced by the graduates during their years at Atlantic Cape to the real-life characters portrayed in the 1993 Disney movie, “Cool Runnings.” The film, about the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, focused on the can-do attitudes of the team’s members.

“Can anyone here relate to that,” she asked. “Like them, you have worked hard and made sacrifices which have led to pride and joy in your accomplishment. You refused to be limited or defined by circumstances. Like them, your teammates have great hopes for your future. So, swallow your fear and get into your bobsled,” she said.

Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora opened the ceremony by saying the graduates have mixed emotions.

“You have fondness of your experience here, anticipation of what is to come and excitement for your future,” Mora said. “You are part of a legacy of excellence.”

Student Government Association President Ines Rosales spoke about the challenges her classmates faced, including financial obligations, the need to complete their assignments and the rush to get to class on time; and in many cases, getting their children ready for school as well.

“Congratulate yourself for overcoming all your obstacles,” Rosales said. “Many of you took five, 10 or even 20 years to get to this point. Turn around and look at all the people who are here to help you celebrate.”

Kenneth Kin of Galloway, who graduated as a 4.0 high honor student 28 years after he graduated from high school, gave the class farewell. Relating to his age, he told his fellow graduates, “Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”

“Opportunity may start here, but it doesn’t end here. You took on a challenge and succeeded,” Kin said. “Take that spirit and attitude with you.”

A number of awards were presented during the event. The Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award was given to Martin Marino, and the President’s Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to professor Tom Innocenti. Diane McCoy received the President’s Distinguished Foundation Board Member Award.

Following the award presentations and speeches, 315 graduates finally had the opportunity to receive their diplomas to cheers and whistles from family and friends, in the gymnasium and in the school’s theater and cafeteria, where the overflow crowd watched on screens due to limited space in the gym.

Those who viewed the ceremony on screen were no less proud of their graduates’ accomplishments than those who viewed it in person. The bouquets of flowers that were presented and the hugs and kisses that were shared were moments that the newest graduates of the Atlantic Cape Community College will never forget. 

Photos by Chuck Eberson

Downbeach Reporter Nanette LoBiondo Galloway receives her degree Downbeach Reporter Nanette LoBiondo Galloway receives her degree


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