College Foundation Board Elects New Officers

Cranford, NJ – The Union County College Foundation is proud to announce the newly elected Board of Trustees officers who were installed on July 1, 2022 and will serve through June 30, 2023.  

The new Chair of the Board is Maksim Sheyn, of Jersey City. Sheyn is a Union alumnus and graduated with an Associate Degree in Business Administration and Management in 2001. He is currently the Senior Vice President for Investors Bank. Sheyn previously served as the College’s Foundation Board Treasurer.

Deborah Enix-Ross, Esq. is now the Vice Chair of the Board. Enix-Ross, who is from Westfield. She currently works as the Senior Advisor in the International Dispute Resolution Group at Debevoise and Plimpton.

Jim Della Sala, of Summit, is the Board’s Treasurer. Della Sala works as the Head of Strategy and Business at Wilmington Trust.

“We are excited to see these Board members assume important leadership roles for the upcoming year,” says Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse. “These individuals are leaders in our community, and they have great expertise to bring to these officer positions. I look forward to seeing the contributions they make to the Foundation over the next year.”  

The Union County College Foundation continues to provide vital resources to students in need. From over $1 million in scholarship and grant support annually to providing support to Union College’s food insecurity program, the Foundation, with the support of its Board and community, continues to meet the ever-growing needs of Union College students.  For more information on supporting the foundation or on the members of the Board, go online to www.ucc.edu/union-county-college-foundation/.

Maksim Sheyn
Deborah Enix-Ross, Esq.
Jim Della Sala

College Celebrates the Class of 2022 at Spring Commencement

Cranford, NJ – Union College held its commencement ceremony for the class of 2022 on Wednesday, May 25. More than 500 hundred graduates celebrated the momentous achievement at the College’s Cranford campus. Two ceremonies, which were led by Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, were held to honor the graduates. This was the first in-person ceremony since January 2020 and the first time holding the ceremony on campus in over a decade.

Union College Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel welcomed the graduates and their families on behalf of the College’s Boards. Each ceremony featured a speaker from the graduating class. Luana Rampelotti, of Hillside, gave remarks at the first ceremony and plans on attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Jacob Ashton, of Winfield Park, spoke at the second and plans on attending Columbia University.

Several students were recognized for both their academic and extracurricular achievements. The Post-Day Memorial Award was created more than 50 years ago in memory of two Union College students who were killed in a car accident while driving to their graduation. This notable award is given to students that exemplify the College’s ideals of scholarship, leadership, and service. At the first ceremony, the Post-Day Memorial Award was presented to Mark Farag, of Elizabeth, and George Stephens, of Kenilworth. At the second ceremony, the Post-Day Memorial Award was presented to Sophia Morales, of Linden and Alexander Hall, of Scotch Plains.

The Alumni Award was presented to the graduating student with the highest GPA. Hazel Nderitu, of Elizabeth, received the Alumni Award with a 4.0 GPA.

“We are pleased to have our graduates back for in-person Commencement for the first time in more than two years,” states College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “Many of these students started with us virtually, and it is great to see them here to receive their diplomas. They have worked hard during their time at Union, while facing additional stresses caused by COVID-19. We have seen them grow into leaders, achieve many successes, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them.”

Union 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 two-year 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. Union has been recognized as one of the top 150 community colleges in the country for 2021 and is a 2023 top 25 semifinalist as designated by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.

College Foundation to Host 7th Annual Close the Gap Reception

CRANFORD, NJ – Join the Union County College Foundation at the 7th Annual Close the Gap Reception, which supports the College’s strategic initiative to increase graduation rates among African American students. The reception will be held at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth on July 14 at 6PM. This year, Close the Gap will honor Susan Hairston and Karen Amanda Toulon for their support and dedication for making a difference among students.

The Close the Gap campaign has made a significant impact since it was created six years ago. Graduation rates of African American male students has more than quintupled, and that in part is due to the donations received by the Foundation. Over the years, nearly $400,000 has been invested in scholarships, programming, grant support, and emergency funding for African American students.

Each year, Close the Gap recognizes two individuals for their contributions and hard work. This year, Susan Hairston will be recognized as the 2022 Volunteer of the Year and Karen Toulon will be recognized as the 2022 Union County Student Success Champion.

Susan Hairston is the CEO of Susan Hairston Consulting LLC. She is committed to strengthening nonprofits that serve marginalized communities. Susan has been appointed to serve on several government and non-profit boards including Commissioner of the Union County Board of Taxation, the Center for Effective Philanthropy Advisory Board, the Union County College Foundation Board of Trustees, a member of the Summit Board of Education, and Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Forum for Diversity. She made history in November 2019 by being elected Summit, NJ’s first African American Council Member.

College Partners with Queen City Academy Charter School for Early College Program

CRANFORD, NJ – Union College is excited to announce a new partnership with Queen City Academy Charter High School in Plainfield for an Early College Program. Students participating in the Queen City Academy partnership will have the opportunity to receive their Associate Degree from Union College at the same time as they earn a high school diploma from Queen City Academy.

As part of the new partnership, Queen City Academy students will have the option to pursue their Associate Degree in either Engineering or Computer Information Systems Technology. There are currently thirty students enrolled in the program. The partnership started at the beginning of the 2021 school year, and the first students enrolled in the Early College Program may graduate in 2025.

“Through our partnership with Union College, our high school students have the opportunity to begin laying the tracks for post-secondary education in advance and we are thrilled that QCACHS’ inaugural class has set the tone of excellence for this partnership moving forward,” says Danielle West-Augustin, Chief Executive Officer of Queen City Academy Charter School. “This program undoubtedly levels the playing field for Black and Brown students. With early exposure to a post-secondary and STEM-focused curriculum, we hope to put our scholars on a trajectory to address inequities in education and garner success.”

Students in the program will take all classes for their first two years at Queen City Academy. For their junior and senior years, they will also attend classes at Union College. The partnership provides young people interested in STEM the opportunity to pursue these degrees at a younger age.

“We are excited to partner with Queen City Charter to offer students in our community this valuable opportunity,” states Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “They will experience college courses on our campuses, and more important, they may be eligible to graduate high school with an Associate Degree.”

College Javelin Thrower Thomas Flanagan Wins NJCAA National Championship

CRANFORD, NJ – Union College student-athlete Thomas ‘Tommy’ Flanagan, of Clark, is a national champion in javelin. On May 13, Tommy and Union’s track team traveled to Troy, New York, to compete in the 2022 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Track and Field Championship. To secure the win, Flanagan threw the javelin 56.27 meters. Not only was this Flanagan’s personal best throw, but it also broke the school record, which was previously set by Flanagan himself.

Flanagan, a freshman at Union College, began throwing javelin to stay active in baseball’s off-season. As he continued to practice and train, he realized his potential and knew that he could become a successful thrower.

This season, Flanagan traveled with the team to Princeton University, where he broke the College’s record for the first time, throwing 55.17 meters. With this, Flanagan gained momentum and felt confident going into the national competition.

As he prepared for his throws at the national competition, Flanagan wasn’t feeling the confidence he had previously, having to throw on a scorching field. During the competition, he said to himself, “We persevere and thrive in adversity.” On his fifth throw, Flanagan did just that, and threw the record-breaking 56.27 meter throw.

“We are proud of Tommy for winning this NJCAA national championship. He is a prime example of a student taking advantage of all we have to offer here beyond our excellent academics. There is a sport, activity, and club for all interests, and we encourage our students to get involved and engaged on campus,” stated Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

Flanagan is especially grateful for all the support he received both on and off the field. Union’s track coach Kyle Duggan and Union’s athletic trainer Frank Aiello are two of Flanagan’s biggest supporters. Off the field, the Union community gathered in the Victor M. Richel Commons to watch Flanagan’s winning throw and cheer him on. When Flanagan found out about that, he got very emotional.

“Tommy is very dedicated to throwing javelin,” says Union track coach Kyle Duggan. “My hope for next year is that he throws over 200 feet (60.96m) and he brings home that national championship again.”

Flanagan continues to train for his second season at Union and plans to graduate with an Associate Degree in Health Science. For more information on Union athletics, go to www.unionowls.com/

Are you unemployed or need help updating your job skills and compete in today’s market?

CRANFORD – The Center of Economic and Workforce Development is providing Virtual information sessions for those interested in a career in the Supply Chain, Healthcare, and Financial Services industry. You will learn about our occupational training programs, offered this summer and fall, including Essentials of Supply Chain Management, Patient Care Technician, and Accounting Technician.

Employment opportunities for those who successfully complete the programs are currently available county-wide. Opportunities include Supply Chain Management – Customer Service Representative, Import Coordinator, Export Coordinator, and Warehouse Manager; Patient Care Technician – Physician office support, patient care technicians in hospitals and medical centers, and Accounting Technician – Bookkeeper, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Accounting Clerk.

Students who complete the program and pass the certification exams will obtain industry-valued credentials for in-demand jobs that are currently hiring qualified applicants. Furthermore, students will learn on how they may qualify for On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs. The information sessions will be held the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 11:00 am.

For more information or to enroll, please register to attend an information session at https://tinyurl.com/UCC2022 or call 908-965-2992.

College Student Mark Farag Selected as Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship Recipient

CRANFORD – Union College student Mark Farag, of Elizabeth, has been selected as one of 100 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This prestigious award will provide Farag with up to $55,000 a year to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Farag is majoring in Engineering and has a 3.92 GPA. During part of his time at Union College, Farag has served as the president of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, is an American Honors student, and tutors students in the College’s Academic Learning Center, all while working full-time to support himself.

Farag currently serves as an ambassador for NASA’s Lucy mission. He has participated in two programs for NASA’s L’Space Academy, where he chose and designed components for spacecrafts to study Venus. He hopes to pursue this as a career, starting with an associate’s degree from Union and then a bachelor’s in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering. With this degree, he plans to become a project manager aerospace engineer.

“We are proud of Mark’s determination and achievements during his time at Union. His commitment to pursuing his dreams is a great example for our students. We are grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for recognizing Mark and students like him at community colleges, and that they are providing these outstanding students with an opportunity to finish their degrees debt free,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

New Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Along with financial support, scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of over nearly 3,000 Cooke Scholars and alumni.

“Today, almost half of all college students begin their academic career at a community college. We know our community colleges are full of high-achieving students, and we’re committed to playing our part to ensure those students succeed,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Congratulations to a cohort of students who have persisted in the midst of such unprecedented disruptions in our lives. We welcome you into our community and look forward to learning alongside you.”

Farag is the fourth recipient from Union College. Previous recipients were Nuno Pereira, of Hillside, in 2015, McDaniel Jeantus, of Maplewood, in 2016, and Kamilla Kocsis, of Rahway, in 2020. This year, more than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges applied to receive the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Four semifinalists were selected from Union College.

For more information about Union, please visit www.ucc.edu and for more information on the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, please go to www.jkcf.org.

College Partners With Montclair State University To Offer Four-Year Degrees

CRANFORD – In a time when equity is paramount, Union College and Montclair State University have announced a partnership to provide access to a high-quality and convenient four-year education to students. Beginning in Fall 2022, students may pursue their baccalaureate degree with Montclair State University on Union College’s Scotch Plains Campus.  

Students learning at the new University Center in Scotch Plains.

Union’s Scotch Plains Campus is home to the University Center, a destination campus with several four-year university partners where they will offer specific degree programs that support employment opportunities for our graduates. Montclair State University is slated offer bachelor’s degrees in Business, Communication, and Computer Science, as well as graduate degrees in Business and Educational Leadership. Montclair State University will grant priority registration to Union graduates.

“We are happy to partner with Montclair State University to provide additional opportunities for our students. Now, Union College graduates will be able to conveniently and affordably pursue their bachelor’s degree with Montclair right here in Union County, at the University Center on our Scotch Plains Campus. Helping our students achieve their dreams is our top priority,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

The College has completed significant renovations for the Scotch Plains Campus. This includes additional state of the art technology-enhanced classrooms, lecture hall, seminar and conference rooms, science laboratories, faculty and administrative offices, and new study spaces for students.

“We are excited that this partnership not only strengthens our relationship with Union College, but represents a major step forward in meeting the needs of students who seek an affordable and accessible college education,” says Montclair President Jonathan Koppell. “Offering options that complement our traditional model of in-person, on-campus learning needs to be part of Montclair’s future and the future of higher education.”

Montclair joins Kean University and Saint Peter’s University as partners with the College at the Scotch Plains University Center. Presently, Kean offers three baccalaureate programs including Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Supply Chain Management. Saint Peter’s will offer baccalaureate programs in Biology and Health Sciences. Future partnerships with additional institutions and programs are pending.

For more information on Union’s University Center at the Scotch Plains Campus, visit www.ucc.edu/universitycenter.