Warren County Community College continues to be among the top community colleges in New Jersey for graduation rate and celebrated in a big way this past Saturday when it held its 30th commencement. This year’s graduating class numbered 290.
Bakari Lee, Esq., the Chairman of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), was this year’s keynote speaker. Other featured speakers included Congressman Josh Gottheimer, Freeholder Jason Sarnoski, who presented the college with a proclamation for the VIPER program, and State Senator Mike Doherty. James Crouse was the Student Speaker. Crouse was also presented with a proclamation by the freeholders for his amazing leadership at the college and his overcoming of addiction.
Lee has been recognized several times for his legacy of service to the Greater Community. Yesterday, he offered word of inspiration to the graduates. During his speech, he specifically highlighted three students for their “success stories” –
Jennifer Fowles is a married mother of four children who had decided to go back to college in Jan 2016. She had lived in the suburbs in Essex County her whole life until a few years ago. She graduated high school a little over 20 years ago, went to a community college for one semester and jumped right into the working world. Years later, she decided to return to college to get her degree. At WCCC she sustained a 4.0 grade point average and was accepted into the PTK honor society. She plans on completing her Bachelors and Masters degree in social work at Centenary University to help her attain a rewarding profession protecting children.
Tom Schnezler is getting his degree this year after working hard over the past 2 ½ years. He is currently a member of the Good Will Fire Company #1 as a Firefighter/EMT, Belvidere Ambulance Corps as an EMT, Warren County Haz Mat Response Team, New Jersey Forest Fire Service, and he also finds time to coach youth basketball. His volunteerism was inspired after pulling the good from a bad situation after he lost his grandmother in a tragic ambulance accident 3 miles from his house. When not volunteering or working hard in school Tom enjoys being outdoors either hiking, fishing, or skiing.
Jack Reinhard is someone who has truly taken advantage of everything that a community college experience offers. An outstanding student who will attend Centenary University in the fall, Jack has been instrumental in helping to improve WCCC’s social media presence in the community and is one of the students who you can always rely on, and is willing to do what it takes to help. Taking his experience a step further, through a community internship that he initiated, Jack has become a noted “newscaster” in the area, having many of his sports and feature news reports highlighted on Insidewarren.com.
The Chairman of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and a Trustee at Hudson County Community College, Lee began his “collegiate” legacy modestly enough through his involvement with HCCC. In an article published shortly after he became the ACCT Chair, Lee recalled that it was “a chance connection with a client that ultimately led the public finance attorney to join the college’s governing board — at first, as a quiet trustee, but soon as a state and national leader.” And then he took over as ACCT chair earlier this year.
Service has been a family tradition for the Lees (his dad, Dr. Gerard W. Lee, Jr. was a guidance counselor, his mother, Wilma Lee, a registered nurse). Lee himself focuses a great deal on helping at-risk youth succeed in education, and also in supporting working mothers.
“It’s incumbent upon us to craft our own narrative of who we are,” Lee said.
(Photo; Emily and her dad Mike Waterston celebrate at WCCC. Credit to Cathy Miller)