News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

For Immediate Release (02-24)
Date: May 14, 2002 
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Pager: 301-930-0972
               Steve Simon, 240-567-7952

Young Female Graduate Confidently Seeks Career
in Engineering
  Montgomery College hosts 55th Annual Commencement Ceremony Friday

 “Montgomery College is responsible for who I am today, and probably what I will be in the future.”

That is how Ezinne Uzo-Okoro sums up her experience at Montgomery College, as she prepares to receive her associate of arts degree during the College’s 55th annual commencement Friday, May 17 at the Rockville campus, 51 Mannakee Street.  She is one of approximately 1,200 Montgomery College students to have earned associate’s degrees or other certifications this year.

After accepting her degree, Uzo-Okoro will transfer to prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York to study computer science on a full academic scholarship.  She is part of a program supported by the National Science Foundation that seeks to attract minorities and women to the fields of engineering and math. 

As for the pressure of being a minority and a woman in a male-dominated profession, Uzo-Okoro says the challenge motivates her not to “beat the boys” but to “make sure I make it there and to become a role model for others.”

Uzo-Okoro came to Montgomery College at age 16 after immigrating from her homeland of Nigeria with her mother and two siblings – an older brother and younger sister – three years ago. She graduated high school in Nigeria two years early with a passion for math and desire to explore the world of high technology and computer science.

However, the prospects for higher education in her home country were limited, so the family decided to seek wider opportunities here in the United States. “I didn’t want to be one of those people who watched things happen in science and technology,” the 18 year-old computer science major says. “I want to be someone who makes things happen.”

The soft-spoken honors student credits her success in part to the teachers and mentors she found at Montgomery College, including the professors Donald Day of the Physics Department and Marvin Watts of the English Department.

“She is a delight and obviously bright,” says Day, who has advised her since they met nearly a year ago at a National Science Foundation function at the College. “I have no doubt she will be on top of the world and do fine at RPI.”

Prior to moving to upstate New York this fall, Uzo-Okoro will intern for the summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Haystack Observatory.  She will join a research team working on a database for raw data that have been gathered by the Observatory over several decades.

In addition to her academic achievements at Montgomery College, Uzo-Okoro has been active in student groups oriented toward community service, including the Montgomery College Student Ambassadors Club and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. In each organization, she served in leadership roles since joining.

As young girl growing up in Nigeria, Uzo-Okoro developed a dream of one day inventing something that would contribute to improving the world. Since then she has been keeping a notebook and pencil on her night stand to record ideas that might spring up in those moments between sleep and full consciousness.

“It is fascinating to me that human beings can make things and create things to make life easier or better, and I want to be a part of that!” she says.

Top Scholars to be Honored at Commencement 2002

          Four other top Montgomery College 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 Jovic, Germantown campus.  One of many international students at Montgomery College, Ms. Jovic 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. 

Commencement to be Televised/Webcast Live

            Montgomery College’s 55th Commencement will be televised live on the College’s Cable Channel 10.  The telecast will begin at 9:30 a.m. with pre-commencement activity.  Ceremonies start promptly at 10. 

            The telecast also will be seen live via the Internet at www.montgomerycollege.edu, sponsored by Pepsi.  Commencement information also is available at that site by clicking on “Hot Topics.”

            The all-campus Commencement will be held, rain or shine, under a massive white tent on the Rockville campus football field.  Those attending the ceremonies should enter the campus via Mannakee Street; North Campus Drive will be closed.  Ample parking is available on site.  The campus, about one mile north of the Rockville Metro Station, is served by a variety of Metrobus and Ride On routes.  

            Air conditioned indoor viewing via video feed will be available in the nearby Gudelsky Building, Room 106, and in the Physical Education Building, Room 137A.

            A reception will follow the ceremonies in a tent across from the tennis courts. 

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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