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Deputy Commissioner Sawyer graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia with an Associate’s degree in fire science and holds a BA in public safety administration from Holy Family University. He is currently pursuing an MA in homeland security at St. Joseph’s University.

Anyone who spent time on Main Campus this past year likely crossed paths with Jason Mays, president of the Student Government Association (SGA).

Mays seemed to be everywhere. He supported the first free book exchange hosted by students. He represented students by contributing insights to the Presidential Search Committee, the Institution-Wide Committee and the Middle States Reaccreditation Committee. He worked alongside fellow veterans, helping them transition to college. He was spotted in the corridors of the Mint Building, directing students who had lost their way.

These are just a few of the reasons Mays, 30, was named Student Leader of the Year during an April 10 Student Leadership Awards ceremony. Others honored that evening included students Jamere Lawrence, (Outstanding Leadership); Felici Wilcox (Outstanding Service); Stephen Fortt (College Mission Award); Juan Quintero (Outstanding Innovation); and Aaron Hill who received the Rising Star Award.

Mays blossomed into a leader over time, Steve Bachovin, coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center recently told a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. “Jason was very shy, very introverted when he came here,” Bachovin said. Mays said he took small steps at first, joining the Veterans Club, and later the dance club Ritmo Latino. “I just kind of wanted to come here for classes, then leave,” he said. “It was at the direction of the social worker at the Veterans Administration that I joined the Latin dance club and started to open up.”

Military service helped him develop leadership capability as well.  “In the Army I learned that to be a team leader, you have to respect your team. When you’re actually in the field, you learn that respect goes both ways,” Mays said.

That perspective proved useful at a highly diverse College where he inspired students across generations to collaborate, solve problems and serve the community.

A member of the Class of 2014, Mays recently earned an Associate in Arts in Business Administration. He has been accepted at Drexel University, though he has not yet decided on a transfer institution.

Instead, he plans to take a few additional classes at the College this fall and spring, and complete a second term as SGA president. Students re-elected him in April.

While representing his peers, Mays believes he found his true calling — politics. “I’ve sort of become interested in continuing to serve the people around me,” he said.

 Jotaka Eaddy - 2013 Commencement SpeakerThere were lights, cameras, as well as a memorable call to action during Community College of Philadelphia’s 48th Annual Commencement where Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director for Voting Rights and Senior Advisor to the President and CEO of the NAACP in Washington DC, encouraged students to follow their north star to success.

More than 1,100 of the Class of 2014's 2,376 candidates for graduation attended the May 3 ceremony at the Liacouras Center, bringing along throngs of elated family and friends. The Class of 2012, with 1,823 graduates, previously was the largest class.

This year's Commencement theme, "Lights, Cameras, and Action", served as a reminder of the graduates' higher purpose, a theme woven into the fabric of college life, through leadership training, community service activities and academic classes. Eaddy's address encouraged graduates to stay connected to others as their journey continues.

"Each of us is on a great journey or path of life. That journey teaches us all things, reminds us of all things. These paths, I believe, are all connected," said Eaddy who turned an early interest in civic engagement into a fascinating career, where she travels the world to champion human rights issues. "Keep your eye on your north star. On your journey, you may fall — and we all fall sometimes. What's important is that you get back up. Always remember that you are powerful — no matter where you started, no matter where you're from."

Before starting her speech, Eaddy took a selfie with the graduates standing in the background. The image was posted to the College's Twitter account and on Instagram. All that social activity generated a buzz, as the hashtag began trending in Philadelphia during the event.

Interim President Judith Gay, Ph.D., urged students to use knowledge for the greater good. "The skills and wisdom you have acquired, what you have discovered about yourself, and the progress you have made will continue to serve you throughout your life," she said. "These experiences are yours to build upon, to improve upon, and to help inspire others. Equipped with new directions, goals and dreams, you are ready for the road ahead. You will demonstrate the strength of Community College of Philadelphia graduates and your contributions will help the city flourish."

Student speaker Erika Lawrence, who will transfer to Temple University this fall, echoed the theme of public service. She said community service activities gave her new confidence and led to amazing opportunities, such as an invitation to join Temple University President Neil D. Theobald, Ph.D., at a breakfast. An honor student, Lawrence will continue her studies in global marketing.

"We hold a meaningful degree that can now open many doors. Our possibilities have now become limitless," she said. "Let's walk into the possibilities the world has in store for us."

Six College employees, 16 international students, and 81 veterans were among this year’s class. The College awarded a total of 2,510 degrees and certificates. During the ceremony, Dr. Gay announced that Associate Professor Richard Frei, Ph.D., was the winner of the 2014 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, established by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation. As the honoree, Dr. Frei will deliver a celebrated lecture during the 2014-2015 academic year.

The College's Regional Centers presented Distinguished Leadership Awards to high school, business and community leaders during a series of neighborhood breakfasts on April 29, 30 and May 1. This was the 15th year the Regional Centers presented the awards to honorees who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to their community.

The Northeast Regional Center held its award ceremony on April 29. The winners were:

Business – Kent C. Lufkin, President and CEO, 3rd Fed Bank
Education – Rob Caroselli, Principal, Fox Chase Academics Plus School
Public Official – The Honorable Bobby Henon, Councilman 6th District, City of Philadelphia
Faith-Based – Rev. Scott C. Dorsey, Pastor, Mount Zion Baptist Church of Holmesburg
Community Service – Seth Kaplan, Chief of Staff, Office of State Rep. Kevin Boyle
Youth – Laura Naylor, Senior, Archbishop Ryan High School

Seated, left to right: Bobby Henon, Kent C. Lufkin, and Laura Naylor. Standing, left to right: Interim President Judith Gay, Ph.D.; Rob Caroselli, Seth Kaplan and Rev. Scott C. Dorsey.


The Northwest Regional Center held its award ceremony on April 30. The winners were:

Business – Pamela Rich-Wheeler, Co-founder and Executive Director, The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise
Education – Michael Cruz, Program Manager, Operations and Grant Development Office of Early Childhood Education, Head Start Program, School District of Philadelphia
Public Official – The Honorable Cindy Bass, Councilwoman, 8th District, City of Philadelphia
Faith-Based – Clement M. Lupton, III, Pastor Beloved, St. John Evangelistic Church
Community Service – Alex Peay, President and Founder, Rising Sons
Youth – Shemaiah Clarke, Senior, Mastery Charter School – Pickett Campus

Seated, left to right: Michael Cruz, Shemaiah Clarke and the Honorable Cindy Bass. Standing, left to right: Chad Dion Lassiter, Community College of Philadelphia trustee, Pamela Rich-Wheeler, Alexander Peay and Rev. Clement M. Lupton, III.


The West Regional Center held its breakfast May 1. The winners were:

Business – Patricia Fennell-Peaks, Senior Analyst, PECO
Education – Ana E. Núñez, M.D., Associate Dean of Urban Health Equity, Education and Research, Director of the Center of Excellence and Women’s Health Education Program, and professor of Medicine at Drexel University
Public Official – The Honorable Robert A. Brady, U.S. Representative, 1st Congressional District
Faith-Based – W. Lonni Herndon, Senior Pastor, The Church of Christian Compassion
Community Service – George Stevens, President, Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association
Youth – Isaiah Gordon Senior, Mastery Charter School – Thomas Campus

Seated, left to right: Patricia A. Fennell-Peaks; Terry O’Donnell, collecting the award for Pastor Herndon; and Tom Johnson, collecting the award for Congressman Robert A. Brady. Standing, left to right: the Honorable James R. Roebuck, Jr., College trustee; George Stevens; Ana E. Núñez; Isaiah Gordon and Interim President Judith Gay, Ph.D.

Ann SIlverman

Associate professor of English Ann Silverman is saying goodbye to the College this year, but not before leaving it with a remarkable legacy.

This past fall, she instructed and led 17 advanced English as a Second Language students in a multimedia project designed to engage the students, as well as the broader community, in learning activities. Each of her students received a camera to take photos of his or her neighborhood, and then narrated brief videos that provide a glimpse of the life and culture in these neighborhoods.

“They had to write about these photographs, and then practice narrating them. They learned about the city,” Silverman said.

On the video the students described neighborhood locations, the architecture of buildings and offered historical facts about sites shown in the photos. Arnold DiBlasi, associate professor and head of academic computing, assisted by turning the video snippets into a 33-minute documentary called “Settling In.”

Silverman’s students had immigrated from Armenia, China, Columbia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Pakistan, Vietnam, Venezuela, India, Ivory Coast and Morocco. They, and their families, settled in various sections of the city, including Holmesburg, North Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia.

Aurora Deshauteurs, curator of the Print and Picture Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia, collaborated with Silverman on the initiative and visited the class during the year to offer pointers on using photos to document history. The class also visited her department at the Central Library to look at archival photos of city neighborhoods.

Silverman was among 27 retiring faculty and staff members who were honored during the annual retirement celebration on April 17 in the Sandra E. Klein Cube. A celebratory dinner was held later that evening at R2L, a restaurant on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place. The retirees’ years of service ranged from 10 to 47. This year’s group included Thomas Hawk, Ph.D., former vice president for Finance and Planning, and treasurer; and Jane Grosset, director of Institutional Research.

Silverman said she plans to trade the lectern for a classroom desk during retirement. “I plan to finish learning Chinese,” she said.

She also plans to volunteer at the Free Library of Philadelphia.