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PHILADELPHIA, April 27, 2015 — Dr. Kathleen Hetherington, who rose from student at Community College of Philadelphia to becoming president of Howard Community College in Columbia, MD, will give the keynote address at Community College of Philadelphia’s 49th Annual Commencement.
The ceremony, one of the milestones during the College’s 50th Anniversary celebration, begins at 10 a.m. on May 2 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, 1776 North Broad Street. This year, the College has 2,080 candidates for graduation. Among them are 40 veterans, 25 international students and four employees of the College. Students are encouraged to share their personal Commencement stories on social media using the hashtag #CCPGrad2015.
Dr. Hetherington is a respected educator who spent 23 years as an administrator and student advocate at Community College of Philadelphia. Since becoming HCC’s president in 2007, Dr. Hetherington has led the college to national recognition for its emphasis on student completion. HCC has also landed on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For list for the past six years.
In 2014, the American Association of Community College Trustees awarded Dr. Hetherington the 2014 Marie Y. Martin Chief Executive Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement for a chief executive. "The ACCT Association Awards are among the most prestigious awards any community college, its trustees, presidents, faculty or staff member can receive," said ACCT Chair and Lansing Community College (MI) Trustee Robin Smith.
During the ceremony, Dr. Donald Guy Generals, Community College of Philadelphia President, will present Dr. Hetherington with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of her outstanding achievements as an educator, leader and an alumna.
Charlene Hoffman, a 57-year-old mother of three, will be the student speaker. She enrolled in Community College of Philadelphia after being laid off from her job educating teen parents on health and wellness. She has been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, and Delta Psi Omega, an honorary dramatic society. She has acted in several productions at the College and at the Bushfire Theatre of Performing Arts. She will graduate with an Associate in Arts degree. She plans to teach theater to young people to build their confidence and self-esteem. In her student address, Hoffman will urge her fellow graduates to give back to their communities as they move forward towards the future.
The personal stories shared during the 50th Anniversary of the College are rooted in the transformative power of service, civic engagement and leadership. Over the last five decades, more than 54,000 students have graduated from Community College of Philadelphia.
The Class of 2015 standouts are students from all walks and stages of life:
- Michael Novak, who will graduate with an Associate in Arts (Liberal Arts - Honors), is one of 90 students in the country to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The award, which pays up to $40,000 a year, will help him complete his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania where he plans to focus on Japanese studies. Between 2005 to 2013, 264 of the College’s former students have transferred to Penn and other Ivy League universities, including Brown, Cornell, Yale, and Harvard universities, according to official transfer data. Eighty-nine percent—or 235 of these students—have transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. Aminata Sy, 34, and Crystal Delmonico, 37, are also headed to the University of Pennsylvania this fall. A mother of three, Sy started classes in developmental English, but worked hard to perfect her academic scholarship. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA. Delmonico has drawn strength from her personal struggles—including homelessness—to find purpose in helping at-risk youth. Both have been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and are passionate about community empowerment and education.
- Shawn Jorden, a participant in the College’s Center for Male Engagement who was homeless for part of the academic year, will graduate in May with two associate's degrees in Psychology and Liberal Arts and plans to transfer to a four-year university. While homeless, he spent several months couch surfing with friends but kept up with his studies despite the hardships. At the Center for Male Engagement, he said he found a brotherhood that supported him like family.
- Lizette Lewis and Kouame Aka have been named to the 2015 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team—an honor that recognizes 44 students for scholarly achievements and community involvement. Lewis, 46, is a longtime licensed practical nurse who has used her coursework in health careers to provide healthy living tips to her Northeast Philadelphia church congregation every Sunday before service. She will attend West Chester University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work. Aka, 22, is a 4.0 science student from the Ivory Coast who plans to transfer to a four-year university and aspires to earn a Ph.D. in petroleum engineering, return to the College as a mathematics professor and work as an engineer.
- Jordan Sanjaya, 22, is an honor student and Computer Science major who lost his hearing at age two and has become a community leader and advocate for deaf teens and young adults. Sanjaya has been accepted to Temple University, where he will continue his studies in computer science. He hopes to one day create an American Sign Language dictionary in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to help future deaf students succeed in STEM classes.
Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.