Not many people today can boast about a 50-year career at one organization, but Montgomery County Community College’s Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Digital Officer Dr. Celeste M. Schwartz is the exception.
As she begins her 50th year at a place that is almost a second home with colleagues who are like family, Dr. Schwartz of Ambler will be sharing her story at this year’s 52nd Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. at MCCC’s Health Sciences Center, Central Campus, Blue Bell.
Dr. Schwartz’s lengthy career is driven by her passion to help students succeed. She relates to students as they begin their education at MCCC, because she also started her education at the college. Born and raised in Norristown, Dr. Schwartz earned her associate’s degree in Data Processing in 1970 and was among the first generation in her family to earn a college degree.
She started her employment at MCCC as a support staff computer operator and worked her way up to her current position. Along the way, she continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University, a master’s degree in Computer Science from Villanova University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Walden University.
Throughout her career, Dr. Schwartz has not only mentored students and employees, but also technology leaders, both locally and nationally. Within MCCC’s IT Department, more than one-third of the staff are alumni, many of whom started as interns under her guidance.
In 2018, Dr. Schwartz received the national EDUCAUSE Leadership Award, which recognizes exemplary leadership that has a significant impact on advancing information technology in higher education. Dr. Schwartz is one of only three community college leaders in the country to receive this award. Locally, she was honored with the 2018 Growth Award at the Women’s Lifestyle Conference as an inspirational achiever in her profession. In 2002, she was inducted into the college’s Alumni Hall of Fame.
Under her leadership, the Center for Digital Education recognized MCCC as a top digital community college 11 times, ranking it three times as first in the nation.
In celebration of her 50 years of dedication to students and their success, MCCC’s Foundation created the Dr. Celeste M. Schwartz Legacy Fund for student scholarships in STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
Sharing the stage with Dr. Schwartz is this year’s Student Commencement Speaker, Logan Brianne Harrison of Pottstown, who will be graduating with her associate’s degree in Human Services. Like Dr. Schwartz, Harrison also is passionate about helping other people.
Harrison participated in MCCC’s Gateway to College program, which enabled her to complete her high school requirements and graduate from Pottsgrove High School. She also received Gateway’s Rising Star Award for her determination and exceptional progress. She then continued her studies at MCCC, earning a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 and receiving an invitation to Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.
While taking classes, Harrison worked two part-time jobs and volunteered with the non-profit organization, In Ian’s Boots, which provides shoes and boots for people in need. After she receives her associate’s degree from MCCC, she plans to explore different career options and then continue her education at Chestnut Hill College.
In addition to being selected for the Commencement Speaker Award, Logan received the Alumni Association Award, which honors graduates who overcome difficult circumstances in pursuit of obtaining higher education.
MCCC’s 2019 Commencement class is expected to have approximately 1,500 graduates and will be livestreamed.