News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

For Immediate Release (02-22)
Date: May 9, 2002 
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Steve Simon, 240-567-7952 

All-Campus Commencement at Montgomery College:
Flags will be Flying
Collegewide Event on May 17 to Feature Unveiling of Flags
Keynote Speaker is TV Executive/Alumna Wendy Thompson

             Montgomery College will celebrate its 55th Commencement Ceremonies on May 17.  Festivities will be highlighted by the unveiling and dedication of some 170 flags representing countries of origin for students, faculty, and staff at this most diverse of Maryland’s community colleges. 

          After commencement, the custom-made banners will be moved to a permanent home in the foyer of the Mannakee Administration Building on Hungerford Drive in Rockville, as a continuing celebration of the College’s cultural richness.

            The commencement will be held, rain or shine, at 10 a.m., under a massive tent stretching from goal post to goal post on the field of the Rockville campus football stadium.  (The campus is located at 51 Mannakee Street).

            Graduates from the College’s three campuses, at Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park, will take part.  So will apprenticeship and certificate-earning graduates from its Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs and the Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education.  Approximately 1,200 Montgomery College students have earned associate’s degrees or certificates for the current academic year.

            “Our annual commencement festivities give us an opportunity to honor and showcase our graduating students,” said College President Dr. Charlene R. Nunley.  “We invite the community to join us in this wonderful celebration of the achievements of our students and our entire institution.”  

MC Success Story—Thompson Keynotes Commencement

            Wendy Thompson, the dynamic General Manager of Washington’s Telemundo affiliate, WZDC, Channel 64, will deliver the keynote address at the Montgomery College Commencement. 

The story of Wendy Thompson is typical of those that unfold repeatedly at Montgomery College, where the mission statement begins, “we are in the business of changing lives.” 

MC was one of the first stops for Ms. Thompson after she came to the U.S. from her native Peru at age 21.  Even as she mastered the English language, Ms. Thompson was getting her college education.  After two years at Montgomery College, she went on to graduate from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s of science in business administration.

 “I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to re-visit Montgomery College and speak with the graduates,” said Ms. Thompson.  “MC is the place that really changed my life and gave me a terrific start on the road to where I am now.  I look forward to being able to give something back to such a genuinely outstanding institution.”

Among other community commitments, Ms. Thompson sits on the boards of the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Center for Community and Justice.  She recently was named to the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.  She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery, Class of 2000, and Leadership Washington, Class of 2001.  Ms. Thompson was honored by the Hispanic Democratic Club of Montgomery County with its 1999 “Poder con Ganas” Award for Business Excellence.

 Top Scholars to be Honored at Commencement 2002

          Four top graduates will be recognized as Board of Trustees scholars, one of the College’s foremost academic honors, at the May 17 commencement ceremonies:

  • Pamela Barnes, Workforce Development and Continuing Education.  Ms. Barnes will be honored for the leadership and unselfish manner she displayed while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout her four-year apprenticeship program as an electronics technician.  The graduate of Oxon Hill High in Oxon Hill, Maryland will be continuing her career in elevator electronics at the National Institutes of Health, where she is a full-time employee. 

  • Marija Jovich, Germantown campus.  One of many international students at Montgomery College, Ms. Jovich came to this country from her native Yugoslavia when she was 18 and graduated from Quince Orchard High School in Germantown, Maryland.  At MC, she compiled a 4.0 GPA in international business and is a member of the honors organization Phi Theta Kappa.  She plans to continue her education at a Maryland university.

  • Maria Carolina Lasso, Rockville campus.  Ms. Lasso is President of Phi Theta Kappa.  She is both a Macklin Business Institute Scholar and a Montgomery Scholar.  After arriving here from her native Colombia four years ago, she was valedictorian of the 2000 graduating class at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Ms Lasso earned a 4.0 GPA at Montgomery College and was awarded a Transfer Academic Excellence scholarship to study international business at the University of Maryland.

  • Bethlehem Taffese, Takoma Park campus.   Ms. Taffese is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and compiled a 4.0 GPA at Montgomery College.  Among other achievements, she won the Diagnostic Sonography Academic and Clinical Award for 2002.  Ms. Taffese, who attended high school in Ethiopia, plans to become a cardiologist.

Community Leaders to Be Awarded Honorary Degrees

             At the commencement, the Montgomery College Board of Trustees will bestow honorary degrees on two distinguished Montgomery County community leaders, Esther B. Newman and the Rev. Thomas Jeremiah Baltimore, Senior.           

Esther Newman has served as executive director of Leadership Montgomery since she founded the organization in 1989.  Leadership Montgomery educates, connects, and recognizes community leaders through a nine-month program for current and emerging business and community leaders.

Ms. Newman is the founder of the Family Life Center of Montgomery County, and has worked in leadership positions at Montgomery General Hospital, the YWCA, and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

An ardent supporter of Montgomery College, Ms. Newman is past president of the MC Alumni Board and received the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2000.     

The Rev. Thomas Jeremiah Baltimore, Senior has devoted his professional career to "growing" a church that reaches into all aspects of life within the local community. He is the founder and senior minister of The People's Community Baptist Church in the Cloverly area of Silver Spring.  

During his 25-year tenure as the church's leader, its congregation has grown from 50 people to nearly 3,500. Dr. Baltimore believes that the church, which hosts Montgomery College continuing education courses, can promote economic development in the African-American community.

Civic contributions by Rev. Baltimore resulted in his appointment by U.S. Congresswoman Constance Morella and Maryland Delegate Sheila Hixson to several committees on race relations affecting Montgomery County. He also was nominated for induction to the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame.

Ms. Newman and Rev. Baltimore will be awarded honorary Associate of Arts in Public Service degrees.  A third will go to Ms. Thompson in recognition of her service as the commencement speaker.

For more information on Montgomery College’s 2002 Commencement, log onto or call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 240-567-7489.  To request accommodations or assistance needed to fully participate in the event, please contact the Office of Disability Support Services at 240-567-5058; TTY: 301-294-9672.

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