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Transforming Lives

New College Plan Focuses on Access, Completion, and Post Completion Success

THE MC OF 2023 is a far different institution than it was when the doors opened in 1946. That year, the most in-demand job was factory worker. Today it is software developer. Scientists barely understood DNA. Today, whole industries are built on DNA technology. And in 1946, Montgomery College served only white students, most of whom grew up in Montgomery County. Since 1956, MC has welcomed students of all races. Today, they hail from from more than 150 countries, and the majority of MC students identify as minority. Strategic plans have helped the College navigate changes, adapt to new times, and serve students. Such plans serve as the north star for the institution, guiding planning, budgeting, and decision-making. On July 1, 2023, the College’s Board of Trustees adopted a refreshed strategic plan for the next five years. 

Devised with input from students, employees, community leaders, and employers, the plan highlights a bold set of trans- formational aspirations that will guide the College today and the years ahead. Its three main components: access, completion, and post-completion success are highlighted in
the student and alumni stories here. 

“Creating opportunities that are equitably available will unlock the potential for all of those the College serves.” —Dr. Michael Brintnall, chair, Montgomery College Board of Trustees

A common thread in these stories is the importance of financial support in gaining confidence to continue, in transferring to a four-year school, in landing good jobs, and in building careers that lift up a family and a community. These are also stories of gratitude to benefactors who open the doors to a world of possibilities.

Access is not simply opening the doors of the institution to those interested in attending. Instead, it is deliberate work in the community to create a college-going culture across the county, especially in those areas where going to college has historically been the exception instead of the expectation. 

Completion is not just about earning degrees. The College must ensure that all credentials that the College offers provide experiences of economic, social, and community impact. 

Post-Completion Success is our institutional ability to transform lives. When students leave MC, whether they are transferring to another school or entering the workforce, they need to have mastered skills that will ensure success on their journey and allow them to earn a family sustaining wage.


Beslin Aryeh standing outside in her nurses scrubs.

BESLIN ARYEH graduated from Gaithersburg High School last May. By spring 2024, just a year later, she will complete a nursing degree, graduate from Montgomery College, and begin work as a registered nurse. 

“I have always wanted to be in the medical field,” Aryeh says, “and nursing is a profession where I get to spend the most time with patients. I admire the self-sacrifice and compassion that nurses need to have to properly care for people.” 

While she was still in high school, Aryeh’s family learned about the Early College program. They were concerned about how to afford tuition for both their high schoolers. Learning that Montgomery County Public Schools covers tuition and textbooks for high school students in the Early College program was a game changer. “This track saves so much time and money.” 

In addition to the financial savings, Aryeh liked the idea of getting a jump start on a nursing career. But when she completed high school, she was no longer eligible for tuition coverage and she was again worried about how to pay. Fortunately, she received an Arthur P. and Miriam G. Becker Scholarship, which paved her way forward. 

“If I could speak with the Becker family, I would tell them how their scholarship eases the financial burden on my parents and will help me move forward with my academic goals. I am eternally grateful for this scholarship,” says Aryeh. 

Beslin Aryeh plans to graduate in May 2024 and to immediately begin working as a registered nurse in Montgomery County while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She will have the opportunity to meet Becker family members at the Scholarship Luncheon in March.

Denisia Akagah sitting at a desk smiling

“I began thinking about returning to the United States to attend college when I was in middle school,” says bioengineering major DENISIA JOCKTANE AKAGAH. “By the time I graduated from high school, I knew I was going to make it happen.” 

Born in the United States, Akagah moved with her mother to Gabon in Central Africa at age four. Later, she made the difficult decision to move away from her mother to join her older siblings, a brother and sister, and an aunt living in the U.S. Both siblings had attended Montgomery College before transferring to complete bachelor’s degrees, and so she followed their lead. 

Akagah tested the academic waters by taking three prerequisite classes— English, art, and psychology—and ended the semester with a 4.0 GPA. Her course load this semester includes English, engineering science, chemistry and calculus, plus she works a part- time job to cover living expenses. 

In August, she applied for the Renaissance Scholars, an honors program for highly motivated students who take evening and weekend interdisciplinary courses in small, seminar-style classes. “I had to provide two letters of recommendation before the interview,” she says, “and I had no idea what that meant.” 

Worried about how to pay for classes, she also applied for an Alumni Association Scholarship. “When I received the congratulations email,
I was so surprised.... The scholarship covered the cost of my expensive textbooks when I needed it most. It’s a relief for me and my family,” Akagah says.

Denisia Akagah, a Renaissance Scholar, is currently pursuing a degree in bioengineering and working as a student assistant in the Montgomery College Foundation’s Development Office. She plans to transfer to Johns Hopkins University to complete her bachelor’s in biomedical engineering.


Madeline “MADDY” Hishmeh sitting at a desk smiling

After finishing high school remotely during the height of the pandemic, MADELINE “MADDY” HISHMEH ’23 welcomed the transition to a college campus with smaller classes and professors she could get to know. At MC, she felt a sense of connection from day one. Her older twin sisters, Allison and Amanda, had attended MC as business majors 10 years earlier, and they helped her navigate the same major. 

“My sisters really set the tone for me and future women in my family to finish our education and get good jobs,” Hishmeh says. Her sisters were Hillman Entrepreneurs scholars; Hishmeh opted for the Macklin Business Institute (MBI), which provided her hands-on business experience.

“MBI students run the MC Cafés, work on the Enactus Team project and competition, and spend four hours attending a weekly seminar.
It is a lot to manage. Because I had the support of the Macklin scholarship, I didn’t have to worry so much about working three times a week in the Café.... I was super thankful to have that. I was able to do my two years without cost. That cuts off so much of the financial pressure,”
she says. 

Madeline Hishmeh graduated in May 2023. She is now studying management at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and one day plans to work for a top consulting or accounting firm. She received the Frederick Douglass Scholarship, a prestigious and competitive award for academically talented transfer students from a Maryland community college.

Macklin Business Institute (MBI) students utilize skills learned in the classroom in MBI’s flagship experience, MC Enactus. Enactus is an international nonprofit organization that challenges students around the world to develop and implement projects to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. In the process, students develop relevant skills for their future education and careers. Enactus USA comprises nearly 500 chapters on college campuses across the country. 

Sourou family sitting in the grass after commencement

SOUROU PAROUTCHIA ’23, an immigrant from Togo (West Africa), knew how important a degree would be to his family and career. “A college education changes my life in terms of income. I have more chances to get better jobs,” he says. More importantly, it would influence his children: “I have a college degree, so there is no reason why my children will not get a college degree,” he says. 

When Paroutchia moved to Montgomery County in 2019, he spoke with friends who had attended MC and decided to enroll. He chose to major in business because it would support his work experience and help him when he owns his own business. He then joined the Presidential Scholars Program hoping to network and build his leadership skills, but he says he gained much more than expected. 

During his year in the Presidential Scholars Program, guest speakers and mentors helped him change his perspective: “I was able to see how other people think and how other people see the world, which may be different from what I see or what I think,” he says. “And that’s a good experience because it’s not good to see the world in only a single way.” 

Paroutchia says the program also helped him connect with people in similar circumstances. “It helped to network with people who also are struggling with the same problems.” The financial aid and scholarships also played an important part of achieving his goal. “Without that assistance, I’m not sure I would have been able to go,” he says. 

After graduating in May 2023, Sourou Paroutchia continues to work in supply chain management in the shipping industry, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in data analysis at the University of Maryland Global Campus. He plans to pursue an advanced degree in supply chain management in the future.

Post Completion Success

Michael Adcock standing in the office

MICHAEL ADCOCK ’16 knew he wanted to work in the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office when he was in the 10th grade—and immediately started planning. To enhance his resume, he took dual enrollment classes at Montgomery College while still in high school. Upon graduation, Adcock enrolled at the College to pursue a criminal justice degree. 

Adcock earned an Alumni Association Scholarship, providing three semesters of tuition money. More valuable, however, was the access he received to an alumni mentor. 

The Alumni Association created the mentoring program more than 10 years ago. The program links MC students to area professionals who offer insights and guidance. Alumni mentors are matched with mentees based on the criteria assessed in interest forms. Both student and alumni participants learn from the experience—and grow as professionals. 

Adcock matched with Debra Dwyer ’80, then an assistant U.S. attorney who had also served as an assistant state’s attorney in Montgomery County for nearly 15 years. Dwyer offered Adcock a wealth of information about being a professional attorney and managing law school interviews. Moreover, the two forged an enduring professional relationship. 

In 2017, while he was a student at University of Maryland, Adcock interned with Dwyer, who had been appointed a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge. After graduating cum laude from the University of Maryland, Adcock—like his mentor— applied to American University’s Washington College of Law. His application contained a recommendation from Dwyer. 

When Adcock graduated from law school, he received a clerkship with the Montgomery County Circuit Court, working for Dwyer and other judges. “Every day in court you learn something new,” says Adcock. “It was a valuable experience.” 

Michael Adcock now works as a prosecutor in the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. He credits his success in large part to the experience and encouragement he received from the Alumni Association mentorship program.

Jorge Torres sitting in the dentistry lab

Born to parents who immigrated from Mexico, JORGE TORRES ’18 did not think college was an option for him. As an undocumented student, his plan was to work in construction after graduating high school. While a student worker in the guidance counselors’ office at Clarksburg High School, he learned about the ACES program for students like himself: first generation to college, lower income, and often identifying as minority. He applied and hoped for the best. 

Within the program, ACES Coach Terré Thomas encouraged Torres to push himself academically through the remainder of high school. She also helped him—and his parents— understand the college application process. The cost of attending college weighed on him—until a Christmas Eve phone call. 

“I was at home eating breakfast when the I got the call,” Torres says. “The ACES counselor told me I had been selected to receive the 
Mary Pat and Darren Alcus ACES Pathway Scholarship, which would cover my college expenses, and my first thought was: ‘I should start studying immediately.’” 

The scholarship not only covered tuition at Montgomery College, it continued through his transfer to The Universities at Shady Grove, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and graduated with honors. Currently, he is in his second year at University of Maryland Dental School. 

“My plan is to keep my grades up and have the option of specializing later on. Dental school is definitely hard, but I will try my best,” he says. 

Scholarship donors Darren and Mary Pat Alcus, who keep updated on Torres’ progress, are impressed by his determination. “Darren and I feel lucky to be able to provide someone with such promise, such motivation, such drive, and such appreciation, with the opportunity to pursue his dream,” Mary Pat says. “We have no doubt Jorge will achieve his goals, and we are happy that we will have played a part in helping him realize his full promise and potential.” 

Jorge Torres completed a bachelor’s degree in biological science from the University of Maryland at USG. He plans to become a pediatric dentist.

Alexander 'Sasha' Stone and his family.

Deciding to forgo college after graduating from St. John’s College High School in 2006, ALEXANDER “SASHA” STONE ’13 could not have imagined he would one day hold a doctorate in business administration and management. 

After high school, the Rockville native started a career in property management. With his self-taught IT skills, he was becoming more interested in the then-relatively new field of cybersecurity. He knew college credentials would open up opportunities for professional growth so he enrolled at MC. 

“I was drawn to Montgomery College for the small class sizes and the one-on-one access I had to my professors,” Stone said. 

Stone took on a leadership role on the College’s Board of Trustees as a student representative while pursuing a dual degree: an associate’s degree at Montgomery College and a bachelor’s degree at The Universities at Shady Grove. 

Alexander Stone currently works for the Environmental Protection Agency as an IT security manager. Stone has earned five college degrees: the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, an M.B.A. and a doctorate.