Families and friends recently gathered in Montgomery County Community College’s Parkhouse Hall atrium at the Central Campus in Blue Bell to celebrate the accomplishments of the students in the Fall 2019 class of MCCC’s Gateway to College Program. Three students received their high school diplomas and several others received awards during the special ceremony.
MCCC’s Gateway to College Program and its dedicated staff and faculty help students stay on track to complete the requirements they need for graduation. Since MCCC launched the program in 2013 at its campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, more than 150 students have earned their high school diplomas. Gateway is part of the Achieving the Dream national network that promotes community college reform.
The graduates include Max Biagini from Pottsgrove School District and Solomon Wilson and Nya Zenquis, both from Phoenixville School District.
During the ceremony, family members and school district representatives took the stage to honor the successes of each graduate. The speakers recognized the graduates for their growth and perseverance through the program and encouraged them to continue their work as they progress to the next chapters of their lives. All three students will continue their education at MCCC in the fall.
MCCC’s Board of Trustee member and Keynote Speaker Napoleon Nelson congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments and stressed that they are now inspirations for the next generation of Gateway to College students.
“The three of you are setting examples for the rest of the Gateway cohorts,” Nelson said. “Today, we are celebrating your academic accomplishments—accomplishments that others might not think they could achieve. Find that person; pour into that person; validate, guide and inspire that person. Go out and do more great things. Success is a habit.”
During the ceremony, several students were recognized for their work.
West Campus in Pottstown cohort:
- Change of Heart Award -- Solomon Wilson (Phoenixville School District)
- Math Award -- Jasmine Irizarry (Pottsgrove School District)
- Courageous Award -- Altima Patterson (Phoenixville School District)
- Most Determined Award -- Cecret Waters (Pottsgrove School District)
Central Campus in Blue Bell cohort:
- Overall Gateway Award -- Lauren Sickel -- (North Penn School District)
- Most Improved Award -- John Luke Bass (Colonial School District)
- Most Determined Award -- Aidan Gilly (Wissahickon School District)
- Perfect Attendance Award -- Grace Scott (Upper Moreland School District) and Delroy Smith (Perkiomen Valley School District)
- Transition Student of the Year Award -- Ali Eskandary (Colonial School District)
- Perseverance Award -- William Moser (Perkiomen Valley School District)
- Most Determined Student Award -- McKenna Benner (Cheltenham School District)
Nineteen school districts – Boyertown, Cheltenham, Colonial, Exeter, Daniel Boone, Hatboro-Horsham, Jenkintown, Norristown, North Penn, Owen J. Roberts, Perkiomen Valley, Phoenixville, Pottsgrove, Souderton, Upper Dublin, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland, Upper Perkiomen and Wissahickon - collaborate with MCCC, referring students to the program.
Additionally, partners Waste Management, PECO, Wells Fargo, Univest, TD Bank, the Kahn family, the Maguire Foundation, the Malik family, Ambler Savings, Penn Community Bank, Thompkins VIST Bank, First Priority Bank, Montco WorksNow and the Gateway to College National Network have provided financial support for the program and student scholarships.
The Gateway team includes: Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Nicole Henderson, Administrative Lead Angela Scott Ferencin; Resource Specialist Jezerey Weiderman; Resource Specialist Esau Collins; Administrative Support Secretary Constance Stebbins; English Assistant Professor Diane McDonald; Reading Senior Lecturer Karen Harding-Tasca; Math Instructor Stephanie Wuertz; Theater Instructor Jessica DalCanton; English Instructor Tracey Fida; Psychology Instructor Geraldine Plaisir; Theater Assistant Professor Timothy Gallagher; and Math Instructor Durrell Jones.
In 2018, MCCC’s Gateway program was one of 10 community college programs nationwide to be named a finalist for the prestigious 2018 Bellwether Award in the Instructional Programs & Services Category. In 2019, the program received Achieving the Dream’s Program Excellence Award – a national award that recognizes MCCC’s success in the areas of first-term success, fall-to-fall persistence, two-year persistence and three-year graduate rate.