1980's

Lillian Caperila (1980): A clean future

Lillian Caperila"Montgomery County Community College's dental hygiene graduates are first rate," Lillian Caperila tells us. She should know. Lillian presents to hundreds of dental hygienists each year, all around the world. After graduating from the College, Lillian continued her education at Thomas Jefferson University. Then she earned her master's degree and taught full time at Harcum College. Lillian is now manager and international presenter of professional continuing education for Premier Dental Products Company in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. As a past president of the Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists Association, she is an important advocate for her profession. "My education at the College was a solid start to a great career path that opened doors," she says.

Lena Tella Gelenberg (1980): Reach for the stars

Lena Tella Gelenberg"I changed my major often," remembers Lena Tella Gelenberg. "First I wanted to be an interpreter, then a business major, and I graduated with an engineering degree from West Chester." This first generation Italian-American was determined to succeed. She loves to work, and knew value when she saw it. "Montgomery County Community College offered opportunities for me to explore and was close to home, and the low cost helped." Lena made a career change after 10 years as an engineer. "When buying our first home, the builder noticed my negotiation expertise and people skills and offered me a job." Lena never looked back. She's been a successful Real Estate Consultant/Realtor for 24 years. She focuses on relationships rather than transactions and becomes her clients' lifelong trusted advisor, resource, and friend. Lena is a ministry leader at her church, and serves on advisory boards at New York and St. Joseph's universities. "Reach for the stars, dream big, and don't be afraid of change ... Change allows you to succeed!"

William Carroll (1981): It's all about the kids

William CarrollWhen you talk to Bill Carroll, you might not realize that he's an Emmy Award winning radio and TV producer. That's because you're impressed with his commitment to the kids of Montgomery County. For most of his career, Bill led two lives: as the go-to guy for foster children for Montgomery County, and the producer of sports classics, like the Randall Cunningham show. Where did he get his start? "My English teacher, Dr. William Lynch, told me that I had all the attributes of a good writer," Bill remembers. "At Montgomery County Community College, it was all about the students." It still is.

Cathy Heckler (1981): Mothers know best

Cathy HecklerEven though her mother thought she might not like computer work, Cathy Heckler earned her data processing degree from the College. She then earned her bachelor's degree from Ursinus College, and after working, discovered her passion for marketing. However, it was her ability to "crunch numbers" that got her noticed by her friend and mentor, Deb Takes, then president of Harleysville National Bank. Today, as a Vice President for TD Bank and a "Founding Mother" of the Woman-Owned Business Network, Cathy recommends the College to everyone: "I put myself through school working for the bank," she remembers. "The College is economical. All my credits transferred. It was fabulous!"

Joseph Tumolo (1981): Jazzed up

Joseph Tumolo"Montgomery County Community College means the world to me," Joe Tumolo says. After graduating from the College and earning a degree at St. Joseph's University, Joe worked in his family's printing business for 20 years. When the business was sold, he looked for something to do to make a difference. "I help fundraisers build stronger relationships with their donors," Joe says. He also helps charities set up planned giving programs. As a volunteer, Joe helps the College's Foundation with its planned giving efforts as Chair of the Planned Giving Advisors Council. Along the way, he went back to the College. "My wife encouraged me to go to a jazz drumming class." Now Joe has his own band and plays in two others. Joe and his wife, Lorraine, have included the College in their estate plans and sponsor a scholarship in the Culinary Arts program. "You could say that I'm jazzed up about Montgomery County Community College."

Michele Kraynak (1982): Caring for money, caring for people

Michele KraynakAs the controller at North Penn Hospital, and later at Waverly Heights retirement community, Michele Kraynak was used to handling big money. Now, the funds are smaller, but no less important. Today, she owns "Michele's Money Services," where she specializes in helping people with their day-to-day financial lives. The College was there for Michele when she started her career, and now, as a member of the Woman-Owned Business Network, it's there as she builds her business. "I see folks get extended beyond their means with a lot of debt," Michele tells us. "Montgomery County Community College should be a natural first step into a college education."

George Marks (1982): The affordable choice

George MarksFor George, the choice was simple. "The College was the only school I could afford," he remembers. George finished at the College and soon earned his architectural license. He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at Spring Garden College. Today, Kramer+Marks Architects has 42 employees with more than $200 million in projects. And while that's impressive, George is most proud of his educational roots. "Montgomery County Community College gave me a ticket to open doors. The College gives a chance to people who would otherwise be stalled."

George Heming (1984): A dream becomes reality

George HemingGeorge Heming did what some people only dream about. It's the stuff of legends. The son of hard-working, blue-collar parents, George, as a junior in high school, landed a job in the mailroom of a small financial management company with only 200 employees and $3 billion in assets. Today, George is a principal in the same firm, with 14,000 employees and$3 trillion in assets. Oh, that company? Vanguard. "I went to Montgomery County Community College while I was working at Vanguard," George remembers. From the College, George attended Ursinus College's evening division and worked during the day. While he appreciated the value of his education, he sees an even stronger argument for community colleges today. "With higher education as an expectation in today's world, community colleges are where someone can figure out what they want to do in an efficient way."

James Vlahos (1985): Communitarian

James Vlahos"I went from high school to the Air Force at age 17," Jim remembers. By 1978 he was married to Bonnie, now for 35 years. "She's the one who pushed me to go back to school." For Jim, that meant 10 years of college at night, and work in the day. After the U.S. Air Force, he worked at a body shop, and then as an insurance appraiser. When the office closed, he sold insurance, and then through his own business, Vlahos Dunn Insurance. "All my business is in the Pottstown area," he says with pride. In addition to his wide variety of community activities and formerly serving as a member of the College's Board of Trustees, Jim supports veterans going to the College. "The funds take care of expenses that regular scholarships might not cover," he says.

Michael Vereb (1986): Dedicated to public service

Michael VerebAll through high school, Pa. Representative Mike Vereb wanted to be a police office. The College was his first choice, and the right choice. "Montgomery County Community College helped me get an affordable education," he remembers. And despite the cold, early morning runs, he came to love it. "The faculty was great. My Montgomery County Community College education got me my first job as a police officer." Today, as the youngest member to be elected to the Pennsylvania House leadership, Mike advocates for community colleges based on his personal experience. "They're economical, convenient and second to none academically."

Kevin Geiss (1987): Leadership

Kevin Geiss"Montgomery County Community College is where I learned the basics of leadership," Kevin recalls. While at the College, Kevin had a job and joined the U.S. Marine Reserves. In 1987 he transferred to Cedarville College in Ohio, and after graduation, he worked at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. In 2001, he completed a Ph.D., and in 2005 he was called to the White House Office of Science and Technology. By 2010, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. Today, he's Director, Human Effectiveness Directorate, 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he heads initiatives to protect and enhance the performance of military members in service to our nation. In 2013, Kevin was honored with the top civilian service recognition, the "Service to America Award."

Michael Webb (1987): The foundation for professional success

Michael Webb"Montgomery County Community College is very student focused," Michael Webb says. He should know about student-oriented education. Mike earned his Ph.D. from Walden University. Mike is an instructor in the health-care management program at Thomas Jefferson University and a faculty member at Capella University teaching public safety leadership. He also taught for the College's criminal justice program for 20 years. All of that is in addition to his supervising 100 Abington Township police officers and support staff in his role as one of two deputy chiefs. "Montgomery County Community College laid the foundation for my professional success and academic achievement."

Timothy Briggs (1989): Doing the people's work

Timothy BriggsPa. State Representative Timothy P. Briggs, Upper Merion Township, completed his freshman year of college at Montgomery County Community College in 1988-89 before transferring to West Chester University. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Political Science from West Chester University and a Juris Doctor from Temple University's Beasley School of Law. After working as a political advisor for more than a decade, Briggs ran for office in 2008 and is about to begin his fourth term as Representative for Pennsylvania's 149th District. He is an associate with the law firm Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell and Lupin."

Patricia Nunan (1989): Fulfilling a promise

Patricia Nunan"I was a 'stay-at-home' mom to a wonderful boy and girl," Pat remembers. Then she received a flyer about classes at the College. "I promised my grandmother that I'd get a college education." It was the start of an unexpected career. Graphic art and AutoCAD software classes at the College led to work with the County, and later remodeling grocery stores. She joined the College's Alumni Board, where she met George Marks, who hired her. Commuting from Boyertown took its toll, and Pat left for a company closer to home, where she picked up construction management experience. Finally, Pat went on her own, turning to fellow alumni board member Wayne Gregory at the College for business advice to start her business designing accessible life and work spaces. "I became a 'Founding Mother' of the Woman-Owned Business Network. There's now a business start-up certificate class. We sponsor the Leading Women Symposium and Golf Experience. Pat is quick to give the College credit. "I got more than I came for."

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