Union County College Foundation Receives $15,000 Donation from Pen Company of America

CRANFORD – The Union County College Foundation has received a $15,000 donation from the Pen Company of America, based in Garwood, New Jersey. In the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a PPE shortage, the Pen Company of America pivoted from making pens and started producing PPE to help meet the needs of our community. The funds donated to the Foundation came from a portion of PPE sales.

Colleen Shea, Vice President of Sales of the Pen Company of America, noted that business slowed down initially during the pandemic until the company made the transition to production of PPE. Not only did this help their business stay busy, but it was a way to supply hospitals in the community with the PPE that they desperately needed and keep their staff employed.

With a donation to Union County College, the Pen Company of America is providing direct support to students in the community. Ms. Shea also has a personal connection to Union County College. Her daughter graduated from the College this spring with a degree in Sport Management.

The $15,000 donation was divided toward two separate funds: $5,000 is allocated to the COVID-19 Student Emergency Relief Fund which supports student financial needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. To date, this fund has raised almost $1 million thanks to the generosity of corporate and individual donors. The other $10,000 is going toward two scholarships established for nursing students.

“We are so appreciative of the Pen Company of America, a local business within Union County, who is supporting our students. Now more than ever, it is critical that unite to tackle the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19. Our hope is that with the help and support of our community and local businesses, like the Pen Company of America, we can ensure that our students are able to focus on their studies by assisting with basic needs and tuition,” said Doug Rouse, Union County College Foundation Executive Director.
If you have any questions about the Union County College Foundation’s mission in our community, please call the Foundation at 908-709-7505.

Union County College Received Three 2020 ACCT Northeast Regional Awards

CRANFORD – Union County College was recognized with three 2020 Northeast Regional Awards from the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). The awards recognized the Union County College Boards of Trustees and Governors with the 2020 Equity Award, Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin with the 2020 Chief Executive Officer Award, and the College’s Secretary of the Boards Dr. Jaime Segal with the 2020 Professional Board Staff Member Award. The awards will be given at the Regional Awards Presentation that will be held during the virtual 51st Annual ACCT Leadership Congress in October 2020.

“Thank you to the ACCT for acknowledging the excellent work being done at Union County College. We are grateful to be recognized in three categories this year,” stated Union County College Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel. “We have an amazing group of board volunteers, a fearless leader in Dr. McMenamin, and dedicated staff members like Dr. Segal, who are committed to fulfilling our mission, ‘Transforming Our Community, One Student at a Time.’ Since the pandemic hit in March, their dedication to push forward and bring about positive change during challenging times has allowed the College to continue to provide Union students with the high-quality and affordable education they deserve.”

The ACCT represents more than 6500 elected and appointed trustees who govern more than 1100 community colleges throughout the United States. The ACCT annually recognizes trustees and other community college leaders in each of its five regions for their contributions.

The Charles Kennedy Equity Award is given to an institution’s board that achieves equity in the college’s education programs and services and in the administration and delivery of those programs and services. Union’s Boards of Trustees and Governors received this award for their support of the College’s Project Achievement initiative in which African American males are given dynamic advising and real-world exposure such as college visits and cultural exploration to inspire these students to “achieve.” From the start of the program in 2013, the initiative has more than quadrupled the African-American male graduation rate.

The Marie Y. Martin Chief Executive Officer Award is given to CEOs who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in advancing the community college movement. Dr. McMenamin received this award for multiple accomplishments, one being the many initiatives she has spearheaded that led the College’s overall graduation rates to quadruple. To better service our students with a modern real-world approach to student services, she established new Student Services Centers at our Cranford and Elizabeth campuses, where students can go to a single location on campus and find assistance with admissions, placement testing, financial aid, student accounts, and advising. In addition to having served as the Chair of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Dr. McMenamin serves on many national, state, and local boards. Dr. McMenamin is passionate about Union’s students and the transformative impact of education, not just on the individual student but on the whole community. Her mission is to eradicate the obstacles to success faced by Union students and to give them the pathway to the American Dream they deserve.

The Professional Board Staff Member Award was established in 2001 and is given to any board staff member in recognition of exemplary service to boards. Dr. Jaime Segal has provided astounding support of the Boards in her three years in the position. One of her most notable achievements was when she converted the monthly in-person board meeting to a virtual event in less than one week’s time when the pandemic hit in March 2020. She also serves as the College’s Records Custodian and ensures that Union is compliant with New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Dr. Segal’s background in law is particularly useful in this role. From her training and experience she considers all implications, both positive and negative of all scenarios, and is careful in her approach to communicating all messages to both protect and enhance Union’s reputation.

For more information on the ACCT, please visit www.acct.org. For more information about Union County College, please visit www.ucc.edu.

The Trifecta: Cieslinski Triplets to attend Union County College

The Cieslinski sisters: Emma, Madison, and Alexis

CRANFORD – When the Cieslinski triplets, Emma, Madison, and Alexis, of Roselle Park, were little, their parents turned to sports to keep them occupied. They enrolled them in the town’s recreation t-ball program, not expecting them to become three outstanding softball players. Their talent on the softball diamond caught the attention of Shenandoah University in Virginia and Union County College, which plans on revitalizing the softball program in spring 2021.

With three student-athletes attending college at one time, all academic and sports opportunities were under consideration by the family. Although Shenandoah was a strong contender, Union moved up the list as the triplets learned more about the options offered by the College.

Then the pandemic hit in March 2020 and forced the triplets to entirely reassess their plans for College. Although Shenandoah made a generous financial offer for all three to attend, the triplets felt that given the current climate, starting their college education close to home and staying safe while being student-athletes at Union was the perfect match.

Emma qualified for NJSTARS, a state grant program that covers tuition for high achieving New Jersey high school graduates, and she is enrolled as an American Honors student where she will receive one on one academic and transfer advisement, have access to the American Honors lounge, and take honors courses. Alexis, who specialized in exercise physiology at the Union County Vo-Tech High School, plans to pursue our physical therapist assistant program. Madison is majoring in education and is happy to attend the same college as her sisters since they are a team.

The triplets played softball all four years for Roselle Park High School. In 2018, the team won the NJSIAA Group I State Championship. Alexis and Madison were named All-County Honorable Mention and Emma was named First Team All Conference. Emma plays first base; Alexis plays third base, outfielder, and pitcher; and Madison plays second base.

In addition to softball, Madison, a left midfielder, and Alexis, a forward, will play for the women’s soccer team led by Coach Angie Correia. Emma will join the women’s basketball team under Coach Marbely Montas. For the past two years, the women’s basketball team at Union County College has been the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XIX Champions advancing to the national tournament.

“The Cieslinski sisters are already outstanding student-athletes, and Union looks forward to helping them grow as athletes and scholars over the next two years,” stated Dean of College Life Tammy Smith. “They are driven individuals who each have the energy and ambition to go far in their collegiate careers. We are excited that they are choosing to attend Union and we look forward to helping them achieve their goals.”

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

Union Students Benefit from the Generosity of the Summit Foundation

CRANFORD – The Union County College Foundation received a generous donation of $10,000 from the Summit Foundation (formerly the Summit Area Public Foundation) to fund scholarships for Union students. The Summit Foundation has served local communities by providing grants to address local needs for more than 50 years.

“Union students appreciate the support provided by the Summit Foundation,” stated Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse. “The Summit Foundation works to improve the lives of those in their community and we are thankful they have chosen to support our students.”

The grant issued by the Summit Foundation will support the Union County College Foundation’s Operation Graduation program. This student success initiative was developed six years ago and has had a dramatic impact on the students at Union and has helped hundreds of students graduate on time. Over the past six years, the graduation rate at Union County College has more the quadrupled.

For more information about how you can make the difference in the life of a student at Union, please contact Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse at Douglas.rouse@ucc.edu

Union County College Foundation Welcomes Four New Trustees to its Board

CRANFORD – The Union County College Foundation inducted four new trustees during its June Board meeting. The trustees are F. Jim Della Sala of Summit, Qubilah Goodson of Franklin Park, Gene Janotti of Garwood, and Mary Caye McCourt of Westfield. The four new trustees all believe in the mission of the Foundation and that education is an asset that can promote economic mobility.

F. Jim Della Sala, of Summit, is the Chief Financial Officer for Wilmington Trust, a part of M&T Bank. As a community college graduate, he understands the financial impact that education can have on lower income students. When he is not at work, Mr. Della Sala spends time at St. Teresa’s Church, on the field with the Summit Soccer Club, and volunteering with the Summit Performing Arts Club.

Qubilah Goodson, of Franklin Park, is the Assistant General Counsel for Dow Jones & Company, Inc. She provides thought leadership and legal advice on a host of commercial and corporate matters to senior business leaders in the organization. She is also the law department coordinator for the legal intern program in which law students receive practical experience during law school. Ms. Goodson is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta, Trenton Alumnae Chapter, a non-profit that provides assistance to local communities. She is also a member of the New Jersey Association of Black Women Lawyers.

Gene Janotti, of Garwood, has spent more than 25 years in management at New York Tel, NYNEX, Bellcore, Verizon, and Atlantic Yellow Pages. In the past 14 years, he has led a team of 400 IT professionals at General Dynamics where they build nuclear submarines, tanks, and destroyers for the U.S. Army and Navy. Mr. Janotti also volunteers, as CEO of the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce and President of the Board of Trustees for the Union County Performing Arts Center. He is also a past Board member for the Trinitas Hospital Foundation.

Mary Caye McCourt of Westfield is self-employed and became interested in feeding local college students when she saw a TV segment on food insecurity. She and her husband created a fundraiser and reached out to their friends and family members for donations. To ensure the funds would assist local college students, Ms. McCourt reached out to the Foundation and made the donation to Union County College.

“The Foundation is proud to have these four community-focused individuals join our Board. With their leadership experience and the continued dedication of all our volunteers, we hope to expand the Foundation’s mission further into the local communities and continue to provide the needed support for students at Union County College,” said Doug Rouse, Foundation Executive Director.

If you are interested in learning more about how you change the lives of Union students, email Doug Rouse at douglas.rouse@ucc.edu or call (908) 709-7113. To learn more about the Union County College Foundation go to www.uccfoundation.org

Support African-American Student Success at the Close the Gap Virtual Cocktail Party

CRANFORD – Five years ago, the Union County College Foundation launched the Close the Gap campaign to accelerate the pace of African American student success. Thanks to this initiative, the graduation rate for male African-American students has more the quadrupled at Union County College. To support this campaign, the Union County College will be hosting their Annual Close the Gap Cocktail Party virtually, honoring Sandra Rice, Senior Vice President at the Center for Talent Innovations on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 6 PM. This year’s event will be one to remember. Not only will the Foundation recognize Mrs. Rice for her unwavering support the Foundation’s mission, the event will also feature celebrity bartender, Al B. Sure! and Julliard trained jazz pianist, Isaiah Thompson.

Sandra Rice is one of three community members who approached the Union County College Foundation in 2014 about the educational outcomes concerning the College’s African-American students. From these early discussions, the Close the Gap campaign was born. “Since 2015, this campaign has had one of the greatest impacts on student success in the state. With exponential growth in the graduation rates as well as the increase in retention for African-American students, the Close the Gap campaign is truly accelerating the pace of student success,” said Doug Rouse, Foundation Executive Director. “Without Sandra’s leadership and support, our ability to move the needle on educational outcomes would be diminished.”

If you are interested supporting this year’s Close the Gap Virtual Cocktail Party, please visit www.ucc.edu/CTG2020, or would like to learn more about how you can be the difference in a student’s life, please contact the Union County College Foundation at (908) 709-7505 or email foundation@ucc.edu

Registration Now Open for 2020 Summer Youth Courses

CRANFORD – This summer the Office of Continuing Education at Union County College will be delivering programs through remote instruction for youth ages 11-17. The courses will begin on Monday, June 22 and will run through August 28, 2020.

Enrichment classes will be offered Monday through Thursdays for students ages 11-17. Topics include Algebra Review, Middle School Math Review, The Writer Within, and SAT Preparation. All courses are taught by NJ-certified teachers and subject matter experts that specialize in delivering high-quality youth programs. Dates, times and pricing for all classes can be found at www.ucc.edu/ce-youth

The College is also partnering again with Black Rocket to offer remote classes such as App I.O.: Make your First Multiplayer App, Code Breakers, eSports Apprentice, JavaScript Developer Jam, Minecraft® Redstone Engineers, Python Programmers, Roblox® Makers, YouTube® Content Creators and much more. Our partnership with Super Science also continues this summer with online programs such as Chemical Wizardry, Junior Physicians, and STEAM Challenges and Mini Robotics. Classes are available for students ages 11-14.

The College for Teens career exploration program sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will not be held this summer. We look forward to returning in summer 2021 in a face-to-face format, with three career tracks and exciting guest speakers who will share their expertise and real world industry experience with participants.

For more information about summer youth programs and to view the classes online, please visit www.ucc.edu/ce-youth

One can also enroll by calling the Office of Continuing Education at (908) 709-7600 or (908) 709-709-7601 or emailing the youth program registration form and emailing it to coned@ucc.edu

Union County College Establishes COVID-19 Student Emergency Relief Fund to Fill the Gaps

CRANFORD – In March 2020, as the impact of COVID-19 became imminent, Union County College, in partnership with the Union County College Foundation, established a COVID-19 Student Emergency Relief Fund. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over half of the students at Union County College reported facing financial challenges, ranging from food insecurities to housing issues. However, today, this number continues to grow as the economic and personal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt across our community. Due to the socio-economic realities of the student body at Union County College, this crisis is already having a devastating economic impact on many students and their families as they face unprecedented hardship due to this national crisis.

The federal CARES Act provides funding to students who are dealing with financial issues that threaten to impede or interrupt their ability to continue their college education, but not all students and situations qualify.

To ensure that funds are available to assist as many students as possible, the COVID-19 Student Emergency Relief Fund supports immediate student financial needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. This new fund will help our students in their time of need and ensure that they are able to continue their education without roadblocks due to this current pandemic. To date, this fund has raised more than $100,000 thanks to the generosity of corporate and individual donors.

“We stand at the beginning of a historic moment in time. Generations in the future will judge us not by our words, but by our actions, which is why our Board approved the development of this new Student Emergency Relief Fund. I truly believe we would not be true to our motto of Students are number one, if we did not meet this unprecedented challenge head on. Our hope is that with the help and support of our community, we can make sure that our students are able to focus on their studies and have access to the basic needs for survival,” said Doug Rouse, Union County College Foundation Executive Director.

Awards to students can vary depending on specific needs. All contributions to the Fund will be awarded directly to students. To donate to the COVID-19 Student Emergency Relief Fund and help a student today, go to www.ucc.edu/studentemergency. If you have any questions about the fund or the Union County College Foundation’s mission in our community, please call the Foundation at 908-709-7505.

Union County College Embraces AI Technology

CRANFORD – Union County College has added the artificial intelligence (AI) technology program Packback to the software tools available for faculty use to spark curiosity and creativity among students. The new technology will lead to improved student engagement and academic outcomes in their online courses. Packback is an inquiry-based discussion platform that will enable students in various academic disciplines to access more challenging online discussions.

The initiative is being launched at a time when community colleges across the nation, Union included, are working to grow and strengthen all online offerings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Union’s summer courses are all online and summer online course fees have been waived. New full-time students this fall will receive a laptop to ensure they have computer access.

“Online learning allows us to expand access during this uncertain period and the ability to engage students in meaningful conversations will improve the overall learning experience,” said Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “Packback’s unique platform combines sophisticated technology with a deep understanding of students’ needs. It helps to create opportunities for thoughtful, productive discussion that engages all students.”

A growing body of research suggests that improving college students’ behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement has a significant positive impact on academic performance. Packback uses AI and machine learning to provide inquiry-based online discussion to over 2,000 instructors and over 450,000 students, who have posted 12 million questions and responses to date. Recent pilot studies suggest that classes who use Packback are more likely to be engaged in discussion and are also more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction and improved overall course grades.

“Community colleges have always been powerful engines of social and economic mobility, and their role will only become more important in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Packback co-founder Kasey Gandham. “This work is about supporting community college faculty with the tools to make the online learning experience just as engaging — and impactful — as the classroom.”

Union County College Student Beianka Tomlinson Accepted to Princeton University

CRANFORD – Union County College student Beianka Tomlinson has been accepted to Princeton University as one of only 13 transfer students admitted for this fall. Beianka currently has a 4.0 GPA and will graduate from Union this month with her Associate Degree in Chemistry.

In addition to maintaining a perfect GPA, Beianka is an American Honors student, serves as president of the Student Government Association, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year colleges. Beianka is also a tutor in the College’s Academic Learning Center which provides free peer-to-peer tutoring to students.

This year, Beianka was a semifinalist for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. In 2019, she was selected as a PTK Coca Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar.

At Princeton, Beianka plans to major in chemistry. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine as a cardiovascular surgeon. She is passionate about racial prejudices in healthcare and is interested in studying diseases that disproportionately impact people of color. Beianka moved to the United States only two years ago and is a first generation college student.

“I am thankful to God, my family, my friends, and so many at Union County College for helping me to achieve this goal. The College’s chemistry faculty is outstanding, but in particular, Professor Sherry Heidary mentored and advised me. My honors advisor Jen Ross, SGA advisors Dr. Norelli and Jose Paez, and Black Student Union advisor Dr. Wrice all supported me and helped me balance academics, activities, and applications. I cannot thank each of them enough,” stated Beianka.