by Alana J. Mauger
At 1,432 students, the largest class in Montgomery County Community College history graduated on May 19, 2011 at the Valley Forge Convention Center, King of Prussia, Pa.
Second Lady of the United States and community college professor Dr. Jill Biden returned to her home community – Montgomery County – to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates and to share her passion for community colleges.
“People often ask me why I continue to teach, and my answer is very simple: it’s you. It’s the students. Tales are often told of teachers inspiring students, but I find it is more often the other way around,” Biden told the audience of 3,700 students, faculty, family and friends. “On more days and in more ways that I can remember, my students have inspired me with their persistence, their inquisitiveness, and their absolute faith that education will make their lives better.”
Following the keynote, Board of Trustees Chairman Michael D’Aniello and College President Dr. Karen A. Stout presented Dr. Biden with an Honorary Associate in Letters.
“Dr. Biden, we are your hometown community college. You attended Upper Moreland High School, the same high school as some of the students who are graduating tonight,” Dr. Stout said during the presentation. “Your work and dedication have made in indelible impact on students, military families, educators, and so many others. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, students, faculty and staff, I am pleased to present you with this honorary degree in recognition of your undeniable achievements.”
The class of 2011 – in addition to setting the largest overall record – also set the record for the most West Campus students to graduate in a given year, totaling 287. This year’s class also includes a record number of 46 veterans and nine graduates on active military duty, as well as the first graduates from the College’s Nuclear Engineering Technology and Dance degree programs and Entrepreneurial Studies certificate program.
In other statistics, the class of 2011 is comprised of 33 international students from eight different counties; 26 students who participated in the College’s competitive Honors Program; 29 students who earned a perfect grade point average of 4.0; 132 students who are members of Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society; and 71 students who were named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges.
The average age of the 2011 graduating class is 28, with the youngest student at age 18 and the oldest at age 68.