Michele Fonte (2000): Focusing on the whole child
Michele Fonte ties her teaching philosophy and professional success to her time at Montgomery County Community College. She registered for her first class at age 41, graduating from the College in 2000 with an associate's degree in Elementary Education. Michele credits the College with helping her to develop a "positive approach to teaching and learning that focuses on the whole child." Michele continued her education at Kutztown University and earned a bachelor's degree in Education with certifications in Elementary and Special Education. She went on to earn a master's degree in Educational Development and Strategies at Wilkes University and a Letter of Endorsement in Teacher Leadership and Instructional Coaching. In 2009, Michele received the Pennsylvania Council of Exceptional Children's Teacher of the Year Award and was nominated for The Great American Teacher of the Year Award. In 2010, she served as the College's commencement speaker. Taking a very unique and individualized approach to teaching children with learning challenges, her philosophy is that all children can learn and achieve in their own ways.
John Caperilla (2001): Designing a career
While the thoughts of working at a grocery store for the rest of his life and the value of the education were good motivators to enroll at the College, it was a scholarship that launched John Caperilla's career. "I received the College Foundation's Allan C. Myers Memorial Scholarship," John remembers. John interned and spent the first years of his career with them—all through his time at Temple University, too—where he received his degree in civil engineering technology. Today, John designs and manages highway projects for PennDOT, municipalities and even railroads. He's also very involved with both of his alumni associations, at the College and Temple. John's taken some interesting lessons from his highway projects into his life in general. "Don't raise a bridge in a residential neighborhood," he says, remembering a specific project. "When you impact people at their homes, they don't like it," he says with a smile.
Patti Thomas (2001): The definition of non-traditional
"Montgomery County Community College was the saving grace of my life," Patti exclaims. "I fell in love with the campus and the school. The professors there were always 'real.'" After graduation, Patti jumped to a Masters in Divinity program at Lancaster Theological Seminary. She's now senior pastor at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Sellersville, and on track for her Doctor of Divinity. Patti currently chairs the Alumni Board and volunteers to assist at many College events and activities.
Christian Sheehan (2005): Direction and tradition
Christian knew that law was a viable career path. His father and grandfather were role models. But he came to the College because he wasn't sure. "It gave me direction," he says. The College was where he found his interest in political science, and where best to follow that dream? Washington. "I interned at [U.S. Representative] Curt Weldon's office when I went to American University." It's also how he met his wife, Elizabeth Trinkle. A Weldon volunteer, Elizabeth knew the College well. She grew up on Cathcart Road. After graduating magna cum laude from American University, Christian went on to Boston College School of Law, where he also graduated magna cum laude. From there, he clerked for the Honorable D. Michael Fisher with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Today, Christian is an associate at Schnader, Harrison, Segal and Lewis, LLP. Wherever his career goes, Christian knows the College is where it all started. "I had excellent professors who were professionals in their fields."
Nicola Manning-Davenport (2007): A lifelong learner
Her life's journey started in Antigua and continued to West Philadelphia and homelessness. Then, she went to Temple University, but encountered unemployment. She then started classes at Montgomery County Community College and earned her degree. Then she continued at Bucknell University where she earned her bachelor's degree to a steady job, a stable life, and a master's degree at Bloomsburg University. Nicola, a mother of two, has seen a lot in the more than 15 years since coming to the United States. When did life turn around? "I enrolled at Montgomery County Community College's 'New Choices/New Options' career development program," she remembers. "I took a computer class, then more." It wasn't long before Nicola found that the College was exactly what she needed. "I was nurtured at Montgomery County Community College." Today, Nicola takes online classes while she works for the Central Susquehanna Inter-mediate Unit. She's also thinking about a doctorate. "People should always be lifelong learners," Nicola says.
Michael Pflueger (2007): Where I got the vision
Sometimes the best advice is to tell someone what they should not do. "Frank Short told me not to be an illustrator," Michael says. "It was good, and I learned a lot from his class." On the other hand, "Walter Hunter, in math, was the right teacher at the right time." From the College, Michael went to Gwynedd Mercy for a degree in math and education, then graduate school at Villanova. It was there, that he discovered the Fulbright program. Michael just completed a year teaching in Durban, South Africa. "Montgomery County Community College was where I got the vision of what I wanted to do. It's where I found my focus," Michael recalls.
Debbie Zlomek (2007): Tackling the crisis through education
When her position as human resources manager was eliminated with the sale of Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, Debbie Zlomek knew she had an opportunity that few people get: to make a mid-career change. "I knew the College was a great place because I had hired so many good people with Montgomery County Community College degrees," she says. "When I went, I always felt someone was rooting for me. I was never discouraged." Today, as a nurse, Debbie tackles one of the most important health crises of our time: Type II diabetes. In her work as a certified diabetes educator, she cares for hundreds of patients at four locations, helps them monitor their condition and trains them on self-care. She also helps spot good talent, just like years ago. "Montgomery County Community College nursing students do community rotation with me."
Sherrylynn Marshall (2008): Creating yourself
"George Bernard Shaw said 'Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself,'" world traveler and U.S. Navy veteran Sherrylynn Marshall reminds us. In her 16 years with PNC Bank, now as Vice President, Market Administration Manager, Sherrylynn's "created" herself with every new opportunity. "I had challenging classes at Montgomery County Community College. I overcame fears." This Phi Theta Kappa inductee and active Alumni Association member mentored classmates, just like she mentors employees at the bank. "Montgomery County Community College helped me find strengths I didn't know I had."
Jan Kargulewicz (2009): Before and after
"My life is either 'before or after Montgomery County Community College,'" Jan says. "I was the first in my family to go to college. The College taught me the value of being a good member of the community." When the Kargulewicz family emigrated from Poland, they knew it meant hard work, but also rewards, especially for their son, Jan. From Montgomery County Community College, Jan aimed high: Columbia University. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and is now working at Vanguard. "Montgomery County Community College made me what I am today," he declares. Jan currently serves on the College's Alumni Board.
Antonio Marrero (2011): A second chance at greatness
When Antonio Marrero first came to the College, he was excited, but by the end of his first semester, he realized his focus had drifted from academics. "I needed motivation," he recalls, so he joined the U.S. Marines. After his tour, Antonio was back, but had a different outlook and was selected for the Honors Program. He jumped into school like never before, becoming Student Government Association President and volunteering as an active proponent for rights for all students. Antonio graduated from the College, then Dickinson College. Today, he's president of his class at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical School. Antonio sees his community college experience as an asset, and his classmates and faculty agree. "If more community college graduates were in medicine, we'd have healthier communities," Antonio says.
Myrtle Williams: I found myself and my passion
"I kind of went the other way," Myrtle says with a smile. She already had an associate's degree from the Community College of Philadelphia, and her bachelor's degree in Fine Arts in printmaking at Arcadia University, but she wanted more. "A friend recommended that I learn about sculpture," she recalls. Myrtle came to Montgomery County Community College. "A whole new world of 3-D art opened up to me." That was more than 30 years ago. Except for a year's stint at the University of the Arts, she's never left. Along the way, she's taught as an adjunct instructor and served as a studio assistant. Her African and world history inspired art has been in exhibitions all over the east coast, and she has exhibited more than once at the College. "Montgomery County Community College is a real teaching institution. It's where I found myself, and my passion.