RVCC Awards Degrees, Certificates to Close to 1,300 Graduates

Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) awarded associate degrees and certificates to close to 1,300 graduates at its commencement, held Saturday, May 14, on the soccer field at the College’s Branchburg Campus. Gemar Mills, the Principal of Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark whose education reforms helped to improve student testing scores, create a safer school environment, and motivate students to believe in themselves, delivered the commencement address and received an honorary degree during the ceremony. Dr. Paul J. Hirsch, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees and former Chairman of the Board, also received an honorary degree. The program featured RVCC student commencement speaker Shawn Rumrill of Flemington. Rumrill came to RVCC with his two sisters in the fall of 2013 after earning a high school diploma through Kolbe Academy’s homeschool program. While at the College, Rumrill maintained a 4.0 GPA, was named a Galileo Scholar, and was active in campus life while pursuing a dual major in Chemistry and Pre-Medical Professional. He received Phi Theta Kappa’s Distinguished Member Award for his work on the TD Bank Leadership Development series. He also served as a Senator for the Student Government Association where he began a campus-wide shoe collection to donate to Soles for Souls. He received the College’s Academic Award for Excellence as a Pre-Medical Professional major. In September, Rumrill plans to attend The College of New Jersey to study Biology and Chemistry and eventually hopes to pursue a career in molecular biology and genetics. Alexa Offenhauer of Clinton, RVCC Instructor of English, delivered the faculty address. A New Jersey native, she received a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree from Western Carolina University. She is currently a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University, studying reading theory and its place in the composition classroom. The other graduates speaking during commencement included Angela Bamford, Cesar Akeem Clarke and Melanye Núñez. Bamford of Bedminster, a former resident of Milford, is receiving a degree in Communication Studies. She is graduating Magna Cum Laude. One of 10 children, Bamford came to the US from Ghana in 2013 as an exchange student. She has been extremely active on campus, serving as president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and as a Student Ambassador. Bamford also has been involved with such campus groups as Rotaract, Sister to Sister, the campus radio station and The Record student newspaper. She has been accepted by Rutgers University, Montclair State University and Syracuse University. Clarke, a resident of Franklin, is majoring in General Science/Pre-Health Professional and eventually plans to attend medical school. He is graduating Summa Cum Laude. Clarke moved to the US from Jamaica in 2013. He is a Galileo Scholar, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is the Student Government Association representative to the United Caribbean Club. He has been accepted at several four-year schools, including Drexel University and Rutgers University. Manville resident Núñez is a Social Science major. The daughter of parents who immigrated to the US from Costa Rica, she is the first in her family to attend college. Núñez has been active on campus as a Student Ambassador, a Senator in the Student Government Association, cochair of the RVCC Campus Diversity Committee, and a Senator with Orgullo Latino Club. She will be transferring to Drew University this fall to study Comparative Religion and Women & Gender Studies. Gemar Mills earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Math Education from Montclair State University and a Master’s of Educational Leadership from American Intercontinental University. In 2008 he assumed his first leadership position as the Department Chairperson of Mathematics at Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark. Two years later he was promoted to Vice Principal. After one stellar year, at the age of 28, Mills was promoted to Principal. One of the most troubled schools in the Newark Public Schools District, with a history of low-test scores, MXS was threatened with the possibility of closure. Mills took on the challenge and accomplished the unthinkable by drastically improving student test scores; creating a safer school atmosphere; and making the students believe in themselves, the school and in education again. Under his leadership, the illustrious school pride and sports culture was featured in the Sports Illustrated award-winning series, “Underdogs.” In addition, the Star-Ledger released a series of articles and a documentary authenticating the school’s turnaround. A member of the RVCC Board of Trustees since 1986, Dr. Paul J. Hirsch served as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2008-2011 and again from 2013-2015. He also has served as a vice chairman from Somerset County. Under Dr. Hirsch’s leadership of the Board, the College made a number of significant advancements including opening the Ray Bateman Center for Student Life and Leadership; selecting Dr. Michael J. McDonough as the College’s eighth president; becoming the first community college in the country to sign an environmental stewardship agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and breaking ground on the expansion of the Christine Todd Whitman Science Center and a new Workforce Training Center that will house career and technical programs designed in partnership with local industry. Dr. Hirsch is an orthopaedic surgeon in Bridgewater and clinical professor of orthopaedics at Seton Hall School of Graduate Medical Education. He is vice chairman of the Board of Directors of MDAdvantage Insurance Company, where he is also chairman of the Finance and Investment Committee and member of the Audit Committee. He is also chairman of MDAdvantage Finance Company. Additionally, he is chairman of the Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Foundation and serves on the Editorial Board of MDAdvisor Journal. Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 50 years, RVCC is an educational and cultural center that is nationally recognized for its innovative programming, service to the community and environmental leadership. The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, professional development and personal enrichment courses. RVCC is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community