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.
“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.
“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 mc3.edu/50.