Anniversary Event Honors 50 Exceptional Alumni, Launches $9 Million Fundraising Campaign

by Diane VanDyke

In celebration of its 50-year milestone, Montgomery County Community College honored 50 exceptional alumni and launched a comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $9 million for student scholarships during a special award ceremony on Nov. 14.

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“Our alumni are a reflection of the excellent work of our dedicated faculty and the high quality of our programs,” said President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “Many of our alumni have taken non-traditional paths to their careers, but each of them is an inspirational success story that exemplifies persistence and determination. The vast majority of them choose to live and work in Montgomery County, and they advance our regional economy as visionary leaders, innovators and creative decision makers in the workforce.”

Since 1964, Montgomery County Community College has opened the doors of education to students from all walks and stages of life andsupported them on a path to success and achievement. More than 55,000 of the College’s alumni have gone on to higher education and/or pursued careers in a variety of professions from attorney to artist, cardio perfusionist, business leader, architect, judge, Major League umpire and others.

One of the many notable alumni is Board of Trustees Chair Michael D’Aniello (1976), an attorney with law offices in Norristown. “The College gave me an opportunity I otherwise wouldn’t have had,” says D’Aniello, who has served on the Board since 2001 and as Board Chair since 2011. “The reason I’m here is to give back by supporting the College’s students.  MCCC is an incredible asset to our community.”

To ensure that future students continue to have these opportunities, Montgomery County Community College set the bar high with a goal of $9 million for its first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign for student scholarships. The campaign has been in a “quiet” fundraising phase for the first 18 months, during which time the College’s Foundation Board and Futures Rising Campaign committees raised $6 million.

Montgomery County Community College's Foundation announced its comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $9 million for student scholarships. MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout and (from left) student Jeremiah Garcia, alumnus Antonio Marrero, student Theresa Dech and student Trudy Jefferson share the moment on stage during the announcement that $6 million has been raised during the first phase of the campaign. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College’s Foundation announced its comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $9 million for student scholarships. MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout and (from left) student Jeremiah Garcia, alumnus Antonio Marrero, student Theresa Dech and student Trudy Jefferson share the moment on stage during the announcement that $6 million has been raised during the first phase of the campaign. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

“The scholarships created through this campaign address critical funding gaps that our students cannot fill by themselves,” said Stout to a full auditorium of more than 350 attendees. “Almost 90 percent of our students are already working, and 60 percent are supporting families. Scholarships created through this campaign can open doors for 500 additional students every year.”

Scholarships provided the entryway for many of the College’s alumni, including science teacher Peter Grove (1974), whose life was transformed when he earned his associate’s degree  on a full scholarship. He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and has taught science classes for 27 years, transforming the lives of his students at Friends’ Central Lower School in Wynnewood.

As part of the anniversary program, the College presented the President’s Award to the Pennsylvania legislative delegation and Montgomery County Commissioners, whose actions honor the spirit of the Community College Act and support the belief that the College serves as a vital stepping stone to economic well-being. Their support has enabled the development of state-of-the art facilities at two campuses, the Culinary Arts Institute, a Municipal Police Academy and the University Center, where students can pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees with seven regional colleges and universities.

With these facilities and a future Health Sciences Center renovation, Montgomery County Community College provides high-quality education in relevant programs that paves the way for transfer to four-year institutions or employment as dental hygienists, nurses, police officers, radiologists and other high-demand professional careers. Today, many students choose Montgomery County Community College as a way to minimize student loan debt, as they earn their baccalaureate degrees.

For Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Vereb (1986), the College allowed him to follow his passion for law enforcement. “MCCC helped me to get an affordable education and my first job as a police officer,” says one of the youngest members to be elected to the Pennsylvania House leadership. “MCCC is economical, convenient and second to none academically.”

While some students know their direction, others find it during their College experience, as was the case for Fulbright Scholar Michael Pflueger (2007), who recently completed a year teaching in Durban, South Africa, as part of the federal program. According to Pflueger, “MCCC was where I got the vision of what I wanted to do. It’s where I found my focus.”

For Nicola Manning-Davenport (2007), Montgomery County Community College was the place where she turned her life around. Starting as a single mom, she enrolled in a computer class, and then persisted until she earned her associate’s degree and a full scholarship to Bucknell University, as part of Bucknell’s Community College Scholars Program. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Economics, she was hired as a Pennsylvania Information Management System Client Support Specialist at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. Now, after completing her master’s degree, she is thinking about pursuing her doctorate. “I was nurtured at MCCC, and it’s where I became a lifelong learner,” she says.

Every year, the College offers these opportunities and more to the 25,000 students enrolled in its degree and certificate programs. However, last year students’ unmet needs added up to almost $24 million and resulted in oppressive loans or as a complete barrier to enrollment.

“Montgomery County Community College serves as a vital gateway to opportunity and success,” Stout said. “Through private philanthropic investment, we can ensure the gateway remains accessible for all students today and for future generations. Investing in an MCCC education is life-transforming for students, their families, our community and the region.”

For more information about the College’s 50th  anniversary, visit

Montgomery County Community College's Fabulous 50 alumni. Photo by Anita Jerva

Montgomery County Community College’s Fabulous 50 alumni. Photo by Anita Jerva

Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

by Neree Aron-Sando

Class 1402 Lt. Brett Burns is congratulated by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez, Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr., and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Class 1402 Lt. Brett Burns is congratulated by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez, Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr., and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

“This is not a one-time process,” said Municipal Police Academy Director Frank Williar, welcoming cadets and their families to the graduation of Class 1402 on Nov. 12 in the Montgomery County Community College Science Center Theater. “We have an obligation to assist each other…to provide resources to each other. People who leave here come back.

Moments before, after 19 cadets filed on stage with military precision, Horsham Township Police Officer Kate Ryan came back to the academy from which she graduated with Class 1304 to introduce Williar, who in turn introduced the evening’s special guests: Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr.; Dr. Aaron Shatzman,  dean of Social Sciences; Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, vice president of academic affairs and provost; Jesse Stemple, first deputy director Montgomery County Department of Public Safety; East Norriton Police Chief Karyl Kates; East Norriton Police Lt. Brandon Pasquale; Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath; North Coventry Police Chief Robert Schurr, Officers Andrew Thiel and Igor Parfeniouk, and Sgt. Rob Malason; and Springfield Police Chief Michael Pitkow.

Cadet SSgt. Anastasios Apostolidis called for a moment of silence for those in uniform, both military and law enforcement, who gave their lives in the line of duty.

North Coventry Police Officer Andrew Thiel, commander of Class 1302, came back to introduce Keynote speaker Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley, who congratulated the cadets on enduring a long and demanding course of studies.

“As a police officer, you will be constantly under intense scrutiny, both on and off duty,” Wheatley warned. “You have chosen a career and will take an oath to lead by example for the rest of your lives.” He urged the cadets never to forget the discipline they learned at the academy. “You should embrace every opportunity to be the counselor, the social worker, the help desk . . . the life-saver” roles beyond merely catching the bad guys that make the world a better place. “We are the peacekeepers who make sure that our communities are safe.”

Sean Maguire,was valedictorian of Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Sean Maguire,was valedictorian of Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Class Valedictorian Cadet Cpl. Sean Maguire of Jeffersonville told his classmates that “we step out of our secular lives into a life of service. We are the next generation of law enforcement, and we are strong.”

Upper Darby Township Police Officer Laina Stevens, commander of Class 1304 and the winner of the 2012-2014 Outstanding Academy Cadet award, introduced Castor, who returns to address the graduating classes every chance he gets. Police officers, he told the cadets “are not just people. They are symbols of a free society. If you attack one of them, you are attacking all of us. You cannot enjoy any of the things you love to do if you are afraid. And that is not the promise of America.”

Class 1402 Cadet Lt. Brett Burns was honored for his leadership. “Brett stamped his personality on the class,” Williar said. “You left some big shoes to fill.”

Burns presented the Director’s Spirit of Distinction Award to Cadet Cpl. Ryan Cifelli of Chalfont, and congratulated Cadet Joseph “Joey” Metzinger on his acceptance to the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.

Cadet David Arredondo of Stockton, Calif., won the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award in memory of the Upper Dublin police sergeant who died in a motor vehicle accident in the line of duty in 2004.

Robin Pritchett introduced the second annual Charles O. “Chip” Pritchett Exceptional Police Academy Instructor of the Year Award, named in honor of her husband, an East Norriton police officer and Municipal Police Academy deputy director who died in October 2013, and read the name of the second recipient: North Coventry Police Chief Robert A. Schurr.

“We miss him every day,” Schurr said, of Pritchett. “I’m humbled. And thank you.”

Dr. Bastecki-Perez conferred diplomas on Lt. Brett Burns, Abington; SSgt. Anastasio Apostolidis, Abington; Sgt. Joseph Metzinger, Rockledge; Sgt. Dylan Royce, Schwenksville; Cpl. Kelly Adams, Newtown; Cpl. Josué Gerena, Philadelphia; Cpl. Sean Maguire, Jeffersonville; Cpl. Branden Sisca, Trappe; Cadet David Arredondo, Stockton, Calif.; Cadet Ryan Cifelli, Chalfont; Cadet John Davis, Douglassville; Cadet Colleen Harner, Glenside; Cadet Marc Laing, Trappe; Cadet Christopher Miller, Gilbertsville; Cadet Aamir Raza, Warrington; Cadet Kevin Siebert, Oreland; Cadet John Smart, Bensalem; Cadet Steffy Shane, Perkiomenville; and Cadet Kyle Williamson, Montgomeryville.

No doubt, many of the graduates will return to speak at future graduations and to assist their successors.

Lt. Burns passed the torch to his own successor, Lt. Brian Manion, Class 1404, completing the continuity inherent in the ceremony. Manion’s classmates provided an honor guard throughout the graduation.

Cadets from class 1402 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday, for 22 weeks, alternating studies with physical conditioning, as Maguire put it, “running and more running.”

Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken.

The academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,500 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 90 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.

Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley gave the keynote address to cadets from Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley gave the keynote address to cadets from Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

VIDEO: ‘The Buzz Update,’ Week of 11/10/14

Check out “The Buzz Update” for the week of Nov. 10, 2014. The program is student produced by the Communicating Arts Production Group (CAPG) at Montgomery County Community College.

Fine Arts Center Hosts ‘Rock and Ring’ Photography Exhibit

by Diane VanDyke

Jimi Hendricks by William T. Vogt

Jimi Hendricks by William T. Vogt

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Montgomery County Community College is hosting “Rock and Ring” photography exhibit featuring the photographs of William T. Vogt and Ed Wheeler. The exhibit opens Monday, Nov. 17 and continues through Friday, Dec. 19. The community is invited to meet Vogt and Wheeler and chat about their photographs at a “Meet the Artists” reception on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1-3 p.m. Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public.

In the 1960s, the decade Montgomery County Community College was founded, music was undergoing a revolution, and by the middle of the decade, the rock and roll of the 1950s morphed into various sub-genres, including pop, psychedelic, blues and folk rock. In the midst of this, William Vogt, then only 16 years old, saw The Jimi Hendrix Experience concert in Philadelphia. The loudness and intensity of the music combined with Jimi’s stage presence created an experience that changed Vogt’s life, as he discovered new interests for both rock music and photography. Vogt, who currently works in the oil and gas industry in Texas, will be sharing his collection of photographs representing that era during, as the “Rock” portion of the Sixties Photography exhibit.

The “Ring” portion of the exhibit will highlight the photography of Vogt’s longtime friend, Ed Wheeler, who is a Philadelphia-area based photographer. Wheeler’s photos will showcase boxing at the Blue Horizon, a former 1,500-seat boxing venue that opened in Philadelphia in the early 1900s. In its heyday, the Blue Horizon was known as the top boxing venue in the world, according to “The Ring” magazine, and fights were held on a weekly basis. The building also appears in the movies “Rocky V” and “Annapolis.” It closed in 2010, and the property is currently being redeveloped.

Working as a professional photographer for more than 35 years, Wheeler has been shooting Fortune 500 companies on location across the globe. After graduating from the Wharton School of Business, he started his own photography business and his work has been shown internationally. His Santa Classics currently hang in the Vesna Gallery in Moscow, Russia. For more information, visit

The exhibit is sponsored by Maureen and Bill Thompson.Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday, except for reception. For more information about the exhibition, contact Galleries Director Holly Cairns at or 215-619-7349.

For the more information about upcoming exhibits and activities, like our Facebook page at, and visit our website at

Help support the arts and art education programs at Montgomery County Community College by becoming a Friend of the Galleries. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, contact the College Foundation at 215-641-6535.

Blue Horizon by Ed Wheeler

Blue Horizon by Ed Wheeler

Drama Club,Theatre Arts Programs Present Tennessee Williams’ Classic, ‘The Glass Menagerie’

by Diane VanDyke

Montgomery County Community College’s Drama Club and Theatre Arts program are proud to present Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” on Nov. 20, 21, and 22 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 22 and 23 at 2 p.m.; and a special lunchtime performance on Friday, Nov. 21 at 12:30 p.m. All performances will be held in the College’s Blackbox Theatre, Science Center 107 (lower level of Science Center), 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, visit or call 215-641-6518.

This American classic by Pulitzer-prize winner Tennessee Williams is a beautiful, desperate story of one family trying to find a way to the world outside the walls of their tenement home. In the height of the Great Depression, a mother dreams of a better life for her two children: a son, who aches to be free, and a daughter, who escapes into the fragile, haunting world of “The Glass Menagerie.”

“Tennessee Williams calls this play ‘a memory play,’ and it is very much like memory: filled with love and emotion…but not always fact. For the main character, Tom, the past is always calling at the back of his head like a voice, saying ‘look back, look back.’ He can’t leave this story until he is able to tell it to an audience and look back at himself and his family and who they are,” says director Michael Whistler.

Directed by Whistler, assisted by Matt Nitchke, the cast of “The Glass Menagerie” includes John Lawrence, Mila Romero Dos Santos, Phoebe Gavula, and Sam Levy. The production is stage managed by Stephanie Giudice, and Tim Odom serves as production manager. The production is designed, produced and presented by the students of the Drama Club and Theatre Production Workshop, under the guidance of Tim Gallagher, Stephen Nemphos, and Whistler.

Cast members rehearse in the College's Black Box Theatre. Photo by Matt Carlin

Cast members rehearse in the College’s Black Box Theatre. Photo by Matt Carlin

Mustangs Soccer Players Earn All Region Honors

by Bob Kent

Marisa Christensen (left); Kristine Wackes (right)

Marisa Christensen (left); Kristine Wackes (right)

Forwards Marisa Christensen and Kristine Wackes earned All Region recognition for their efforts in the Fall 2014 season.

Christensen was named to the 2014 Women’s Soccer Division III All Region XIX First Team. In fact, she was the lone Pennsylvania school representative on the First Team.

“It was the most exciting feeling. I was in shock when Coach (Francine Roseman) called me,” said Christensen, who graduated in June from North Penn High School, where she played soccer for three years. “I gave my all every game and tried to be an impact player; but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches.”

Christensen, who grew up on the soccer fields while playing for her Ukrainian Nationals club team, credited the Mustangs’ men’s soccer team with whom she practiced with while the women’s team was still being assembled.

Meanwhile, the honor was totally unexpected for Wackes, the only Pennsylvania school representative on the All Region XIX Third Team.

“When Coach Francine called me, I was very surprised … pleasantly surprised,” said Wackes, a 2013 graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School.

The honor was extra special because before walking on the soccer fields at Montgomery County Community College, Wackes had not played soccer since eighth grade.

“Thankfully I run and exercise and stay very active, so jumping back into it was very easy for me,” Wackes said.

Christensen and Wackes, along with Julie Primavera, often provided the offensive spark for a Mustangs team which struggled to score goals. The pair credited their teammates for never giving up during a season in which the team dealt with a shortage of players due in part to injuries, and failed to secure a win.

“Both played with passion and really gave their all each game,” Coach Francine Roseman said.

Wackes, along with Christensen, look forward to bigger and better things next season.

“I am unbelieveably honored and blessed to be playing the game I love every day,” Christensen said.

As students at Montgomery County Community College, both young women are enrolled in the the Exercise Science and Wellness program.

West End Student Theatre, Theatre Arts Program Present Pulitzer Prize-Winning Drama ‘Rabbit Hole’

by Diane VanDyke

"Rabbit Hole" cast includes Myasia Bynum, Carly Watson, Ron Quay, Sarah Koch, and Andrew Miller and is directed by Tim Gallagher. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

“Rabbit Hole” cast includes Myasia Bynum, Carly Watson, Ron Quay, Sarah Koch, and Andrew Miller and is directed by Tim Gallagher. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College’s West End Student Theatre and Theatre Arts program are proud to present “Rabbit Hole,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by David Lindsay-Abaire. Show dates are Thursday-Saturday, November 13, 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. All performances will be held in the College’s South Hall Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call 215-641-6518 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit

“Rabbit Hole,” the 2007 winner for the Pulitzer Prize, is a bittersweet drama about finding hope in the lowest moments of life and the paths taken to return to the light of day. It tells the story of Becca and Howie, two young parents who could be anybody’s neighbors in a typical suburb, until the accidental death of their four-year-old son tests everything about that life… and their marriage.

“There is no manual for mourning. How or when do you restart/redefine your life in the face of loss? Becca and Howie are grieving the death of their son in very different ways. A terrible accident has uprooted their lives and created a wedge between them. Ultimately, this play is a journey home…a defiant, funny yet delicate journey home,” says director Tim Gallagher. This production contains adult themes and language.

Directed by Gallagher, assisted by Rianna Isbell, and stage managed by Desiree Humes, the cast includes Myasia Bynum, Carly Watson, Ron Quay, Sarah Koch, and Andrew Miller. The production is designed, produced and presented by the students of the West End Student Theatre, which includes Anthony Romano, Alex Hollowell, Nicole Corsey, Jeffrey Chernesky, Sarah Robbins, Freddy Ortiz, Joseph Donley, Lexi Lyon, Allie Johns, Sherry Smith, Edston Detrich, Sarah Robbins, under the guidance of Gallagher.