The Dance Ensemble opened The Spring Convocation at Middlesex College in the Performing Arts Center Theater on Jan. 17 to entertain faculty, staff and administrators live after two years of streamed convocations.

This was the first Convocation President McCormick hosted in the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and for the opening act, he decided to use the dance ensemble.

The Dance Ensemble for the Convocation was led by Professor Aimee Mitacchione, and there were seven dancers.

These seven dancers consisted of current students: Otto Rojas, Samantha Caban, Ashanty Gil, Brian Dennis, Abryana Lowman, Nyala Castro and an alumna called Hope McCarthy.

Mitacchione said, "After the fall dance concert, the dancers were invited by the college president, Dr. Mark McCormick, to perform the hip-hop dance piece at Convocation (which was the closing dance of the fall dance concert). They only performed this dance, which was about seven minutes long."

The songs played during the Convocation were a mix of hip-hop and pop music from the 1980s and 1990s, with artists such as "In Living Color" by Heavy D, and "Alfa" by Robotboys, among others.

Mitacchione said, "They rehearsed all of the fall semester to perform this dance piece for the fall dance concert... and then they rehearsed on Saturday morning over the weekend while the campus was closed in preparation for the Convocation performance."

Mitacchione stated that having the dances recognized and honored by everyone was a wonderful experience, and that the stage time for the dancers is a gift.

Ode Hoppie, acting Assistant Dean of Student Engagement, said, "I’m always excited at this time of year at the start of this semester."

McCormick said that Middlesex College accomplishes and realizes its mission through its strategic plan and that their current plan, which covers the period from 2018 to 2023, comes to an end at the end of the spring semester.

The attendees really enjoyed the event–not only for the captivating dance routine, but also for the food served at the event. Tommie Foster, an electrician, said, "The President’s Convocation event morning breakfast was delicious." 

Dr. Michelle Roman, Chairperson of the Dental Hygiene Program, said, "So, I’m happy to be back and ready to begin the spring semester and looking forward to working with our students as they treat patients in our new clinic." 

"I am grateful for the visionary leadership of our Board of Trustees and the incredible support of the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners. The kinds of investments being made by Middlesex County right here on our campus are rare at a community college,” McCormick said. “The College will be able to do even more to lean into and live up to our mission… this investment will secure Middlesex College’s place as the heart of Middlesex County."

President McCormick said that there were noteworthy students that caught his attention and were worth talking about.

The students’ names are as follows: Jasmine Rukhadze, Ezra Goldfarb, Habeebat Elwalily, Jamie Madrid, Braden Ramirez, Lance Wilson(Class of 2023), Mason Vann, Patty Gonzalez, Eileen Araujo (Class of 2020), Sanjana Butala (Class of 2021), Izabella Burzynski (Class of 2022), Helmin Caba (Class of 1996), Vincent Costanza (Class of 1995), Yelida Martinez (Class of 2020) and Zakiyia Forbes (Class of 2023).

McCormick said that there were new hires for Middlesex College, and staff were also promoted to new positions. 

The names and positions of the new hires are as follows: Kerly Cabreja, as Success Bound Program Manager at the Perth Amboy Center, Mary Casey-Gifford, as a Radiography Instructor, Oscar Cleaver, as a Probationary Police Officer, Valeria Dasilva as a Custodian for the Facilities Management, Jason Jordan as the Associate Director for Human Resources, Senilda Macedo Prado as a Custodian for Facilities Management, Stephanie Newton as a Pre-College Coordinator for the K-12 Partnerships, Tracey Novoa as the Radiography’s Department Assistant, Alain Perez as Mechanic I for the Facilities Management, Pawel Pieszchala as Supervisor in Custodial Services for Facilities Management, Kevin Romero as Probationary Police Officer, Rashmi Sanglikar as Student Accounts Specialist for Student Account Services, SaVaughn Smith as Mechanic III for Facilities Management, Jeyanthan Vinayagam Samithamby as Custodian for Facilities Management and Brian Weins as the Mathematics Department Assistant.

The names and positions for the staff that were promoted are as follows: Luke Agojo as the Student Records Evaluator for Registration, Edgardo Alvarez as Information Technology’s Senior Systems Administrator, Elva Carrasco as Finance’s Senior Staff Accountant, Kevin Dalina as the Director of Events and Media Services for Institutional Advancement, Kevin Frischmann as the Enrollment Services Administrator and Ria Gaviria as the Director of Academic, Career, and Transfer Services, Student and Enrollment Services.

 "I spoke at the Fall Convocation about the evolution of the mission of community colleges from access to success, and more recently from success to success after graduation. I am proud of the evolution in our thinking about our mission. We continue to focus intently on expanding access to college and making sure that every student succeeds while they are with us,” McCormick said.“We've also been focusing increasingly on how we prepare students to succeed after they leave us. A majority of our graduates transferred to a four-year college or university and earned a bachelor's degree and often advanced degrees. Other graduates find employment in their chosen field immediately upon graduation. We are also proud of our graduates who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit by starting their own business." 

McCormick said, "Everywhere I go in Middlesex County, I meet people who are proud Middlesex College alumni or who know someone who attended Middlesex College. That positive reputation and brand is something we are capitalizing on in our marketing campaigns. However, for every Middlesex County resident I encounter who's had an amazing experience of Middlesex College. I find it's also someone who's had little or no interaction with us. We want every Middlesex County resident to be aware of all that Middlesex College has to offer."

McCormick also mentioned the great things that  Middlesex College was able to accomplish recently which include: serving as a host site for a traveling exhibit called Voices and Votes: Democracy in America and hosting the Student Life Harvest Fest which had over 600 visitors, the theater production of the Night of the Living Dead, IT Department doing system updates, L'Hommedieu Hall renovation being finished, the College getting more expansions, the Marketing Team redesigning the website, the campus climate survey, the College getting a rebranding, scholarship and internship opportunities, the Middlesex College Teen Arts Festival, the New Jersey Science Olympiad, South and North Hall renovations, engaging with other colleges/universities and local organizations, the Mental Health Technician Exam being offered by the American Medical Certification Association, the Dental Hygiene Clinic, Middlesex College partnering with four local high schools, dual enrollment, K-12 Partnerships, elementary to high school students visiting the college, the Transfer Symposium and Giving Day.

“That’s an important decision for me to make. And If I can help it, I wanna make sure I’m doing the right thing.” 

Hi! My name is Jared Almanzor. I’m a part of the Middlesex College Newspaper called the Quo Vadis. I’m a Managing Editor, a Section Editor, and a Staff Writer. I primarily write reviews on different interests I like but I like to dabble now and again.

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