Bucks Graduates More Than 800 in Class of 2013

Illustrator, alumnus James Bennett (‘83) delivered the keynote address and received an honorary doctorate at the college’s 47th annual commencement.

Other celebrations included Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony and Honors Convocation.

Bucks County Community College celebrated its 47th annual commencement May 23 by welcoming James Bennett, an award-winning artist and illustrator, as commencement speaker. The ceremony took place in the Gymnasium on the Newtown campus.

Bennett, who graduated with an associate degree in fine arts in 1983, earned a full scholarship to the prestigious School of Visual Arts in New York based on the portfolio he created at Bucks.  His professional career as an illustrator began shortly after he received recognition from the Society of Illustrators and RSVP as a scholarship student at SVA.

His conceptually humorous illustrations have since appeared as covers and interior pieces for The New York Times, Forbes, Time, Sports Illustrated, Mad, Business Week, Reader’s Digest, and Philadelphia magazines, among others. Bennett has illustrated a number of picture books, two of which have appeared in the top five of the New York Times Best Seller list: Tell Me a Scary Story...But Not Too Scary by Carl Reiner, and Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld.  His awards include the prestigious Hamilton King and Stevan Dohanos awards from the Society of Illustrators. Bennett lives and works in Bucks County.

“They say that the most frightening moment in an artist’s life is when he’s about to begin a painting, and he starts by looking at that big, blank canvas,” Bennett (pictured, left) told graduates and their families. “Your future is like that big, blank canvas. It can be positively frightening. But it can also be the most exciting and gratifying experience of your life, when you begin to fill that  space with your own combination of lines, colors and ideas, and most importantly, hard work. The end result might be different than what you had originally planned, but that’s where the fun starts, because the line never stays straight.”

The college recognized Bennett’s achievements by granting him an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, presented by college president Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt and Board of Trustees chair Blake Eisenhart.

The class of 2013 – which numbers more than 800 – also heard from one of its own. Theodore Prime was chosen to address his classmates in recognition of his outstanding achievements. The business administration major is a member of Kappa Beta Delta, a national honor society for business students. Through KBD, he worked with the United Way on many charitable community service projects. In addition, the Yardley resident worked as an after-school homework tutor in the Morrisville School District. Prime (pictured, right, with Student Life Director Matt Cipriano at left) is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges.

The ceremony featured live music from the BCCC Madrigal Singers, under the direction of Music Area Assistant Professor Rochelle Reed, performing a special arrangement of our national anthem composed by Professor Steve Bresnen. Also, Assistant Professor Jeff Baumeister led the BCCC Graduation Ensemble performing his own arrangement of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Professor Stephen Taylor of the Dept. of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math served as marshal of the processional.

Earlier, Bucks celebrated top students, faculty and alumni at its annual Honors Convocation ceremony, presenting more than $200,000 in scholarships and awards in the Gateway Auditorium. All told, more than 150 awards will be presented by President Shanblatt, Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Annette L. Conn, and Tobias Bruhn, Executive Director of the BCCC Foundation. Most of the funds come from the BCCC Foundation, a nonprofit educational trust which manages a $6 million endowment.

Nursing graduates were also honored with a pinning ceremony May 22 in the Gymnasium.

Keynote speaker was James Matejik, MSN, RN, a 1988 graduate of the college’s associate degree nursing program.  A clinical specialist in gerontology, Matejik earned his BSN from Thomas Jefferson University in 1991 and his Master’s Degree from Gwynedd Mercy College in 2000. He is currently a PhD candidate at Widener University and an adjunct faculty member at Bucks.

The student speaker was Lisa Musso of Newtown, a former journalist who turned to nursing as a career change. The 90 students who completed the college’s associate degree nursing program are poised to become registered nurses upon completion of state licensing exams.‌

Jean Dolan
Assistant Director, Public Relations