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News Release

Date: May 2, 2006
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; Steve Simon, 301-251-7952

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U.S. Secretary of Education to Speak at Montgomery College Commencement
Nearly 2,000 Students Eligible for Community College’s Graduation, May 17

The United States Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will deliver the keynote address at Montgomery College’s 59th annual commencement on Wednesday, May 17, at 10 a.m. The community college will honor graduates from its three campuses in Montgomery County, Md.—Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring—along with apprenticeship graduates in Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs. Nearly 2,000 students have completed the requirements for associate’s degrees, apprenticeships, or certificate programs during the past year and are eligible for graduation.

“Having the Secretary of Education address the students of Montgomery College is a great recognition of the role that community colleges play in providing open access to quality higher education,” said Montgomery College President Charlene R. Nunley, who is currently serving on Secretary Spellings’ national Commission on the Future of Higher Education. “Graduation is the best time for us to celebrate student success and it is wonderful that the Secretary can join them for this important moment in their lives.”

Spellings was confirmed as the U.S. Secretary of Education on January 20, 2005. As the mother of two daughters, one school-age and one college-age, Spellings has a special understanding of the issues facing parents and students today. She is the first mother of school children to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education.

During President George W. Bush’s first term, Ms. Spellings served as assistant to the president for domestic policy where she helped craft education policies, including the No Child Left Behind Act. She was also responsible for the development and implementation of White House policy on immigration, health, labor, transportation, justice, housing, and other elements of President Bush's domestic agenda.

Four Montgomery College Students Selected to Address Fellow Students

During the commencement ceremony, four students will be recognized as the 2006 Board of Trustees Scholars and will address their fellow graduates. College officials select one scholar from each of the three campuses and an apprenticeship scholar representing the Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education and the College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education division. Each scholar receives a cash award to be applied to future tuition or educational purposes of their choice. This year’s Board of Trustees Scholars are:

A native of India, Patel enjoys studying organic chemistry, physics, biology, and math. She is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and a major in general studies. In addition to her academic schedule, the Gaithersburg resident is a technician at Eckerd Pharmacy and a volunteer tutor in the College’s Science Learning Center. Patel’s future goal is to become a pharmacist.

A general education major, Aurich is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. She participated in the College’s Millennium Scholars honors program and studied in the International Summer School Program at the University of Cambridge in England. Aurich, who lives in Rockville, is a member of the College’s Jane Goodall Institute Environmental Club and the Nutrition Club.

A world traveler and Chevy Chase resident, Pflantzbaum has worked on a political campaign to ban clear cutting of forests, interned with Senator Richard Bryan of Nevada, and worked with the homeless through Americorps. He is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and will transfer to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work.

A mechanic with Bilmin Company, Inc. of Gaithersburg, Wright is completing a four-year apprenticeship program as an HVAC/R technician. He is enrolled in the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, National Capital Chapter program. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three young children at their new home in Maugansville, Maryland, near Hagerstown.

Honorary Degrees Will Go to Artist Sarah Gettleman Silberman, Benefactor Don Dworkin, and Secretary Spellings

To pay tribute to College benefactors and community leaders each year, Montgomery College’s Board of Trustees confers honorary degrees on selected individuals. This year’s recipients are artist Sarah Gettleman Silberman, benefactor Don Dworkin, and commencement speaker Secretary Spellings,

Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Sarah Gettleman Silberman has had a long and productive career as a sculptor, but her work is virtually unknown outside her circle of friends, classmates, and teachers.

Silberman began formal sculpture training at age 17 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. When the family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1941, she did graduate work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. She opened a studio on F Street, exhibited her work at shows in Washington and Baltimore, taught children’s classes at the Corcoran and adult classes at Walter Reed, and gave private lessons.

In 1981, she enrolled at Montgomery College. In 2004, at the age of 94, the Art Department of the Rockville Campus organized a one-person show of her work. Later, the College published her biography, “The Genius of Sarah Silberman: A Lifetime Student of Sculpture,” which explores the artistry of her career. Silberman took classes at the College’s Rockville Campus up until her 95th year and goes down in MC history as its oldest student.

Silberman was married to Dave Silberman for 47 years until his death in 1978. She has two sons, James and William.

The second honorary degree will go to Donald E. Dworkin, a senior broker in the commercial division of First Capital Realty. Prior to joining First Capital, he worked for Doncor Realty, a company he founded. Dworkin began his professional career as a teacher, guidance counselor, and coach at The Landon School in Bethesda and at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring.

As a supporter of Montgomery College, Dworkin has served as the chair of the Montgomery College Foundation Golf Tournament for nearly 20 years. During his tenure, this tournament has raised more than $1 million for Montgomery College scholarship programs. Dworkin earned an A.A. from Montgomery College and a B.A. and M.A. from George Washington University.

He lives in Potomac, Maryland, with his wife Judy. His son Doug lives in Berkeley, California.

The final honorary degree will go to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, in appreciation for her commencement address.

Montgomery College’s Commencement to be Webcast and Shown on Cable

Montgomery College will broadcast its 2006 Commencement live on the Internet on Wednesday, May 17. Families and friends of the graduates can log on to the Montgomery College Web site to watch the day’s festivities unfold. Cable television viewers in Montgomery County can also watch the ceremony on Montgomery College Television, cable channel 10.

For more information about the 2006 Commencement, log on to: or call the Montgomery College Special Events Office at 301-251-7489.

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PHOTO EDITORS: For a high-resolution image of Secretary Spellings, click on this link: spellings.jpg. For high-resolution images of the Board of Trustees Scholars and the honorary degree recipients, click on the names in the release.

Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves more than 55,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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