UCNJ Hits the Jackpot in AC with Multiple NJCCC Awards

Cranford, NJ – UCNJ Union College of Union County, NJ won four awards given by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC). The awards were distributed at the New Jersey Community Colleges Awards Program and Dinner as a part of New Jersey’s Community College Opportunity Summit held in Atlantic City in June 2024.

Of the eight award categories, UCNJ received four:

  • Presented to a trustee who has made outstanding contributions, Board of Governors Chair Mary M. Zimmermann (UCNJ ’01) accepted the Ronald D. Winthers Trustee Leadership Award.
  • Awarded to a senior community college leader in recognition of their leadership efforts, Vice President for Student Development Dr. Demond T. Hargrove received the Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli Leadership Award.
  • Bestowed to a New Jersey community college faculty member who has had a profound influence on students inside and outside of the classroom, the Distinguished Faculty Award was given to Associate Professor of Chemistry Shahrzad “Sherry” Heidary.
  • Conferred to students in recognition of their academic excellence, character, inspirational success, and service to their communities, the New Jersey Student of the Year was presented to Katherine Mejia (UCNJ ’24).

Mrs. Zimmermann, of Summit, has been a member of the UCNJ Boards since 2006 and is Chair of the Board of Governors. In 2023, she finished her term as Chair of the NJCCC where she represented the community college trustees and students of all 18 of NJ’s two-year colleges. Additionally, Mrs. Zimmermann received the Women of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Union County Commission on the Status of Women in 2019.

Dr. Hargrove, a resident of Union Township, has served as the College’s Chief Student Officer since joining UCNJ in 2017. Earlier this year, Dr. Hargrove received the Chester Holmes Humanitarian Award from the Union County Board of County Commissioners. The Commissioner Board established the Chester Holmes Humanitarian Award in 2012, in honor of the former County Commissioner and Rahway resident Chester Holmes, who passed away earlier that same year.

Professor Heidary, of Springfield, has been a member of the faculty at UCNJ for more than 15 years. She has served as an advisor to student organizations including the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society, Union Honors, Women’s Empowerment Club, and much more. Professor Heidary is one of only two faculty member Trustees on the Union County College Foundation Board. In 2023, she received the Association of Community College Trustees Faculty Award for the Northeast Region.

Katherine Mejia, of Plainfield, graduated from UCNJ in 2024 with a degree in social services and a 3.9 GPA. At UCNJ, she was a part of the Honors program, a member of PTK serving as Committee Leader of Scholarship, and a part of the Educational Opportunity Fund. She was also Vice President of the Psychology Club and a NJ STARS student. Katherine served as a peer tutor in the College’s Academic Learning Center. Last summer, she participated in the summer intensive program at Princeton University. Katherine will be continuing her studies at Drew University in the fall.

“We are proud of these members of the UCNJ community – from recognition of a member of our board, senior administration, faculty, and a student! They represent the best of what we have here at UCNJ. These are all highly motivated individuals who are deeply committed to the College’s mission. I am pleased that the NJCCC chose to honor them,” stated UCNJ President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

UCNJ is a public, comprehensive community college that provides quality, affordable, accessible educational programs to the greater Union County region. It is the first of New Jersey’s 18 two-year colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The College offers a wide variety of academic and extracurricular activities. UCNJ provides many experiential learning opportunities such as access to a Bloomberg Business Center, Innovation Center, and Student Research hub. Additionally, students at UCNJ attend one of the top 10 community colleges in the country for 2025 as a designated finalist by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. To learn more, visit www.ucc.edu.