Union County College Receives $10,000 Grant to Establish NJCAA Men’s Volleyball Program

CRANFORD – Union County College recently received a $10,000 grant from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and First Point Volleyball Foundation to establish a men’s volleyball team for spring 2022.

“Thank you to the NJCAA Foundation and the First Point Volleyball Foundation for providing the opportunity to expand the sports programs offered at Union,” stated Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, Union President. “With the addition of a men’s volleyball team at Union, we are able to engage more students in athletics while they earn a high-quality education.”

The addition of men’s volleyball to Union’s athletic department brings the total number of sports offered to 17.

“I am excited to start recruiting for this new team and to help prepare them for competition in the spring 2022 semester,” stated Tammy Smith, Union’s Dean of College Life/Director of Athletics. “I look forward to meeting those who will become the members of our inaugural men’s volleyball team. It’s a great opportunity to get involved on campus and build bonds with fellow student-athletes.”

In May, the NJCAA in collaboration with First Point Volleyball Foundation announced a $200,000 grant to support the growth of men’s volleyball as an emerging sport within the Association. Grants were awarded to 15 member colleges, including Union, to support the initiative towards men’s volleyball becoming a full NJCAA championship sport.

 

“The ability to create more opportunities for student-athletes to compete in college and take part in a growing sport is one of the ultimate wins the NJCAA Foundation can achieve,” said Brian Luckett, NJCAA Foundation Executive Director. “We are appreciative of the First Point Volleyball Foundation for making this possible and the NJCAA member colleges who have stepped up to make history by bringing back men’s volleyball to the association.”

First Point Volleyball Foundation continues to spread influence to help men’s volleyball grow exponentially and has awarded $2.2 million in grants thus far.

“As one of 19 First Point Foundation board members, I can say we are so proud to be able to support the NJCAA and these 15 institutions starting men’s volleyball,” said Mick Haley, First Point Volleyball Foundation volunteer board member and AVCA Hall of Famer. A former men’s volleyball coach at Kellogg Community College (MI), Haley led the program to four NJCAA national championships, back when the sport was sponsored, before stints as head women’s coach at the University of Texas, University of Southern California, and the 2000 US Women’s Olympic Team in Sydney. “Two-year colleges present the most affordable opportunity for young people to play college volleyball during a time when students want to stay closer to home,” Haley continued. “Our hope at First Point is to see 35 or 40 more two-year colleges follow these 15 and sponsor men’s volleyball.”

The addition of men’s volleyball at these select NJCAA member colleges is another step towards supporting the growth and educational opportunities of two-year college athletics.

“As we work to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games, all of us at USA Volleyball are excited by this awesome news of 15 newly announced men’s collegiate volleyball programs at two-year colleges,” stated John Speraw, First Point Volleyball Foundation Founder and volunteer Chairman and head coach of the US Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball. “I suspect it won’t be long before an NJCAA athlete will play for Team USA,” Speraw added. “I want to personally thank all the donors to First Point Volleyball Foundation, past and future, for making these grants possible.”

For more information about the athletic programs offered at Union County College, please visit www.unionowls.com.

About First Point Volleyball Foundation 

Founded in 2016 by John Speraw, head coach of the USA Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball and Wade Garard, First Point Volleyball Foundation exists to provide opportunities for young people to mature and develop through volleyball. Specifically focused on growing boys’ and men’s volleyball in the United States, First Point Volleyball Foundation initiates and celebrates FIRST POINTS whether that is a first point of a new collegiate team, or a new high school team, or a first point of competitive volleyball for a 12-year-old. The Foundation has three strategic initiatives: (1) Growing collegiate opportunities; (2) Growing high school boys’ opportunities; and (3) the Extending Reach Diversity Initiative – expanding volleyball opportunities to boys and men of color.  

About NJCAA Foundation 

The mission of the NJCAA Foundation is to enhance the NJCAA national organization, student-athletes, member colleges and local communities through financial support, scholarships, program initiatives and community service. 

 

Union County College Foundation to Host 6th Annual Close the Gap Cocktail Reception

CRANFORD – Join the Union County College Foundation on July 14, 2021 to celebrate their 6th Annual Close the Gap Cocktail Reception, in a virtual environment, to support the College’s strategic initiative to increase graduation rates among African American students. This year, the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter will be honored for their years as avid supporters and mentors of the College’s Project Achievement Program.

Since 2015, the Close the Gap campaign has raised nearly $300,000 which has been invested in scholarships, grant and program support, and has provided emergency funding to students who are on track to graduate. Since that time, the College’s graduation rate for African American male students has more than quintupled.

The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter is from Plainfield, New Jersey. The Chapter was established in 1955 and is being honored for its commitment to building the next generation of leaders. They achieve this through their Omega Leadership Institute High School and Community College mentoring programs, essay contests, and scholarships. The members have served as mentors to the African American men in our Project Achievement program which uses intrusive advising techniques to keep our students on path for on-time graduation. The Omicron Chi Chapter has been a dedicated supporter of the Union County College Foundation and was one of the first advocates of the Close the Gap Campaign.

“The College is grateful for the time and commitment the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Omicron Chi Chapter have given to improve the lives of Union students,” stated Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin. “These men serve as leaders and mentors to our African American students. They have inspired our students to complete their degree and continue on at a four-year institution where they can pursue their dreams.”

If you are interested in donating to the Close the Gap Campaign, or would like to learn more about how you can provide financial assistance for students at Union County College, please call (908) 709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu or visit the Foundation’s website at www.ucc.edu/ctg2021.

The brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter met with Union students in the Project Achievement program.

Union County College Freezes Tuition for a Second Year

Union County College student in a face to face class during the fall 2020 semester.

CRANFORD – On February 23, 2021, the Union County College Board of Trustees approved the College’s 2021-2022 budget which included no increase to student tuition. This is the second year without a tuition increase. Students who attend Union County College this fall will pay the same rate as last year.

Beyond the overall affordable tuition, there are additional ways to save cost. The College offers flat rate tuition. Full-time students, those who register for 12 or more credits, who live in county pay the same rate, $2,640.50, for 12 to 18 credits. Take additional credits for the same price to be more cost effective.

Eligible students may attend the College tuition free. Those who enroll in at least 6 credits and have an adjusted gross income of $0-$65,000 may be eligible for New Jersey’s Community College Opportunity Grant. There is no separate application for this grant. Students who complete the FAFSA or NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application are automatically considered.

Registration for fall is open. Students are encouraged to register now to create their ideal schedule. Payment for fall classes is not due until August 5. The application to Union is free and can be found at www.ucc.edu. Fall classes start on Wednesday, September 1.

The College offers more than 60 programs of study including supply chain, cybersecurity, criminal justice, education, and more. For high achieving students, the American Honors program provides one-on-one academic and transfer advisement. For students interested in athletics, NJCAA sports teams include soccer, baseball, wrestling, lacrosse, and more. The College boasts an active Student Government Association, student clubs and organizations, and a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Graduates of Union County College enjoy easy transfer to four-year colleges or universities.

“With the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, it was essential that we not raise tuition for our students. We are proud to have kept the tuition rate flat over the past two years. Even in the midst of a global health crisis, we will continue to provide a critical service to the residents of Union County, and we do this through the generous support of the Union County Board of County Commissioners led by Chairman Al Mirabella. We know cost is important, and our priority was making adjustments elsewhere, so we did not have to increase tuition,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

For more information and to search for classes and register, please visit www.ucc.edu/fall or call 908-709-7000.

Union County College Team Participated in Prestigious NASA Challenge

Union students Antonio Mena, Bruce Aranda, Dmytro Govdan, and Michael Kirkland in a lab at the College’s Cranford campus in the fall 2019 semester.

CRANFORD – Union County College is proud to announce that “Team UCC Drillworks,” comprised of four engineering students, successfully competed in NASA’s Micro-G Next Challenge Artemis Program on September 16. Held via video at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Sonny Carter Training Facility near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Union’s Lunar Coring Device, named “Icarus Talon” was one of two teams who made it through the entire trial. The “Icarus Talon” may now be used in the Artemis mission to drill samples from the moon’s surface.

“Team UCC Drillworks” is comprised of four students: Michael Kirkland of Westfield, Bruce Aranda of Elizabeth, Dmytro Govdan of Summit, and Antonio Mena of Cranford. In the first round of the competition, Union competed against teams from universities such as Cornell, Columbia, University of Texas, Ohio State, University of Alabama, University of Nebraska, and Arizona State. Of the original group of 20 teams, only eight were chosen to compete in the final round.

To prepare for the competition on Sept. 16, the team gathered this summer with Associate Professors of Engineering Nick Gilbert and Jennifer Ebert to practice and perfect the drill for the trials. During these sessions, the students consulted with NASA engineers via video for suggestions on how to improve their drill.

“We are so proud of Michael, who wants to work for NASA, and his fellow engineering students Bruce, Dmytro, and Antonio on having built a drill that may be part of the Artemis mission to the moon,” stated Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the dedication of Profs. Gilbert and Ebert, who took time out of their busy schedules during our national health crisis and created a safe environment for our students to prepare for the competition.”

Union County College Associate Professor of Physics/Engineering Nicholas Gilbert is serving as the Head Coach to the team. Associate Professor of Engineering Jennifer Ebert serves as the research and technical advisor to the team.

For more information about Union County College, go to www.ucc.edu.

Eight Union County College Student-Athletes Named to All-GSAC and All-Region Teams

Top row: Destine Alarcon, Lindsay Wielgus, Sarah English, and Kiana Veloso-Lima. Bottom row: Dominique Denilson, Murielle Mason, Jacques Fuentes, and Victoria Fernandez.

CRANFORD – For their achievements on the field and the court during the fall 2019 semester, eight Union County College student-athletes were recognized by the National Junior College Athletic Association by being named to All-Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) and/or All-Region teams. The eight students were members of the men’s soccer team, women’s soccer team, and the women’s volleyball team.

The College’s student-athletes are from towns throughout the County. Below is the list of the students who were acknowledged for their athletic performance.

Men’s soccer team:

  • First Team All-GSAC & First Team All-Region
    • Dominique Denilson of Elizabeth
  • Third Team All-GSAC & Third Team All-Region
    • Jacques Fuentes of Hillside

Women’s volleyball team:

  • Second Team All-GSAC & Second Team All-Region
    • Murielle Mason of Cranford

Women’s soccer team:

  • First Team All-GSAC & First Team All-Region
    • Lindsay Wielgus of Cranford
    • Sarah English of Clark
    • Destine Alarcon of Plainfield
  • First Team All-GSAC & Second Team All-Region
    • Victoria Fernandez of Rahway
  • Second Team All-Region
    • Kiana Veloso-Lima of Union

“We are so proud of the achievements of our high performing student-athletes. Their individual drive for success is the catalyst for reaching both their athletic and academic goals,” stated Dean of College Life Tammy Smith.

For more information about the Intercollegiate Athletic programs available at Union County College, pleases visit www.unionowls.com.

Union County College Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to Celebrate Expansion of Health Sciences Building in Plainfield

Union County College Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to Celebrate Expansion of Health Sciences Building in Plainfield
Holding the big scissors are Dean of Plainfield Campus and Allied Sciences Dr. Victoria Ukachukwu and President McMenamin. To her right is Union County College Board of Trustees member, Union County College Board of Governors Vice Chair, and Union County College Foundation Chair Lawrence D. Bashe, and to his right is Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Angel G. Estrada.

PLAINFIELD – On January 21, 2020, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the College’s Plainfield campus to celebrate the completion of renovations of the Health Sciences Building, which is home to multiple in-demand health training programs. Dean of the Plainfield Campus and Allied Sciences Dr. Victoria Ukachukwu welcomed the guests to campus. Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin spoke about how the state-of-the-art facilities housed in the building are integral to providing Union students with the high-quality education and training needed in today’s job market.

Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Angel G. Estrada was present for the ceremony, as well as Union County College Board of Trustees member, Board of Governors Vice Chair, and Foundation Board Chair Lawrence D. Bashe. Members of the College’s faculty and staff were also in attendance.

The expansion of the building includes new labs for the College’s paramedic emergency health science, physical therapist assistant, and respiratory care programs. The renovation also provides a new conference room, additional classrooms, and two computer labs as well as a spacious atrium in the front of the building.

“This upgraded and expanded facility is exactly what our students need to receive state-of-the-art training in the various health fields,” stated President McMenamin. “This is just one more way in which we are achieving our mission of providing a high-quality education at an affordable cost to Union County residents. Our goal is to provide students with an education that leads to employment in careers that help support a family.”

Two Union County College Wrestlers to Compete at NJCAA National Tournament

Frank Silva, of Kenilworth  Ikenna Unachukwu, of Roselle

Frank Silva, of Kenilworth, and Ikenna Unachukwu, of Roselle

CRANFORD – Union County College scholar-athletes Frank Silva, of Kenilworth, and Ikenna Unachukwu, of Roselle, qualified on Feb. 22 to compete in National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Wrestling National Tournament. The tournament will be held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa on March 6 and 7.

Both Frank and Ikenna are in their freshman year at Union. Frank is 5’8” and qualified at 125 pounds. He is a chemistry major and will represent the NJCAA Region XIX as the District Runner Up. Ikenna is 6’3” and qualified at 174 pounds. He is a nursing major and will represent the NJCAA Region XIX as the District At-Large.

“Union County College is so proud of Frank and Ikenna for qualifying to compete at nationals in not only their first year in college but also in the first season of our wrestling program,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “At Union, we provide our scholar-athletes with every opportunity to achieve their personal best both in the classroom and on the mat. Good luck to Frank and Ikenna.”

For more information on the 15 NJCAA teams at Union, go to UnionOwls.com

Union County College Celebrates 500 Graduates at Winter Commencement Ceremonies

Union graduates, smiling for the camera, as they wait outside of the Union County Performing Arts Center for their ceremony to begin.

RAHWAY – Union County College celebrated more than 500 graduates during its joyous Winter Commencement Ceremonies held at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ. Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin presided over the ceremonies and welcomed the graduates. Union County College Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel offered greetings on behalf of the College’s Boards of Trustees and Governors to the attendees. Highlights of the day were the inspirational student speeches given by Herns Gabriel of Union and Reyna Ramirez of Plainfield. They both encouraged their classmates to persevere in the future and make their mark on the world.

At the 2:30 p.m. ceremony, Associate in Science degrees were conferred. The Associate in Arts, Associate in Applied Science, and Certificates were awarded at the 6 p.m. ceremony. At each ceremony, William Dunscombe, Interim Dean of STEM, presented a graduate with the Abdallah-Thomas Memorial Award. This award was created in 2015 to honor Ibtissam Ahmed Abdallah and Marquest S. Thomas, graduates of the College who died together in a tragic car accident on Nov. 23, 2011, shortly after they were married. To be considered for the award, a graduating student must have a 3.25 GPA or higher, have participated in college life through service in college activities and/or sports, and have completed community service. Luis Umana, of Springfield, who completed his Associate in Arts degree in psychology and Patience Opaola, of Linden, who completed her Associate in Science degree in nursing, were this year’s recipients.

“Commencement is the most revered day of the year at Union. We gather to celebrate the success achieved by our newly minted graduates, who exemplify the College’s mission of transforming our community, one student at a time,” stated Dr. McMenamin.

Among the dignitaries present at the ceremonies were Union County Board of Chosen Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella and Freeholder Sergio Granados. Members of Union County College’s Boards donned their regalia and participated in the ceremonies. Union County College Board of Trustees member, Union County College Board of Governors Vice Chair, and Union County College Foundation Chair Lawrence D. Bashe, Union County College Board of Trustees members George A. Castro, II and Daryl Palmieri, and Student Trustee Kaitlyn Veliz were present. Union County College Board of Governors members in attendance were Nancy J. Benz, Rafael J. Betancourt, Esq., Donna M. Herran, Francis Raudelunas, Allan L. Weisberg, and Hugh C. Welsh. Union County College Foundation Board member Suzanne S. Covine was also present.

Union County College Team Chosen for Prestigious NASA Challenge

Union students Antonio Mena, Bruce Aranda, Dmytro Govdan, and Michael Kirkland in a lab at the College’s Cranford campus.

CRANFORD – Union County College is proud to announce that a team of four engineering students have been chosen to participate in NASA’s Micro-G Next Challenge Artemis Program. Union’s team is one of only two community colleges selected to compete in this category, which has a total of 20 teams, and includes teams from universities such as Cornell, Columbia, University of Texas, Ohio State, University of Alabama, University of Nebraska, and Arizona State.

Union’s team is comprised of four students: Michael Kirkland of Westfield, Bruce Aranda of Elizabeth, Dmytro Govdan of Summit, and Antonio Mena of Cranford. Our students submitted a proposal for the Lunar Sample Coring Drill competition which if chosen, will be used on the Artemis mission to drill samples from the moon’s surface.

The young men on our team are now in the process of building their drill which will be tested at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) at the Sonny Carter Training Facility near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The NBL is the large pool where astronauts train for future missions.

“For engineering students interested in working for NASA, this is the experience of a lifetime, and we are so proud of our students for being chosen for this competition,” stated Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “I thank the leadership in our engineering faculty for the guidance and instruction they’ve provided to assist our students with achieving their goal of building an effective coring drill.”

Union County College Associate Professor of Physics/Engineering Nicholas Gilbert is serving as the Head Coach to the team. Associate Professior of Engineering Jennifer Ebert serves as the research and technical advisor to the team. Please consider supporting the fundraising campaign to send Union County College’s team to NASA this spring: www.ucc.edu/ucc2nasa

Union County College Signed Agreement with Japan’s Kitami Institute of Technology

ELIZABETH – On Oct. 22, a signing ceremony was held between Union County College and the Kitami Institute of Technology of Japan in the Kellogg Building on the Elizabeth Campus. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin and Kitami President Dr. Suzuki Soichiro. The agreement will provide new academic and study abroad opportunities for students of both institutions.

With this new arrangement, Union students and faculty will be able to participate in collaborative research initiatives, experience joint education programs, including continuing education, and exchange academic materials. Union County College Dean of Elizabeth Campus Dr. Lester Sandres Rápalo has been working to internationalize the College and assisted with the development of this new MOA. During the ceremony, Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage and Kitami City Mayor Tsuji Naotaka witnessed the signing. This year marks the City of Elizabeth’s Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Sister City Partnership with Kitami, Japan.

“The signing of today’s agreement will provide new cultural experiences for both Union and Kitami students,” stated Union President Dr. McMenamin. “President Soichiro and I are looking forward to building educational pathways for our students and faculty.”

Representatives from both institutions and Union students were present for the signing. Twenty-four guests, including ten officials from the Kitami Institute of Technology, traveled to the U.S. to be present for the ceremony. Following the MOA signing, the Japanese delegation took a tour of the College’s Elizabeth campus, led by Dr. Rapalo and Union County College Vice President for Administrative Service Dr. Athos Brewer.

Union County College is a public comprehensive community college providing quality, affordable, accessible educational programs to the greater Union County region. It is the first of New Jersey’s 18 Associate Degree colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The College enrolls almost 20,000 credit, non-credit, and continuing education students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Many programs lead to an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or an Associate in Applied Science degree.

For more information about Union County College, go to www.ucc.edu.

Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage (left) and Kitami Mayor Tsuji Naotaka (right), witnessed the signing of the MOA by President McMenamin and President Suzuki.