Nearly 1,000 Graduate from Bucks County Community College

Keynote speaker Joanne Grossi (‘79),  AARP Pa. State President, urged the class of 2017 to have courage in their everyday careers to be successful.

‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Bucks County Community College celebrated the accomplishments of nearly 1,000 graduates Thursday, May 18, at its 51st annual commencement in the Gymnasium on the Newtown campus.

Keynote speaker Joanne Grossi, AARP Pennsylvania State President and a 1979 alumna of the public, two-year college, urged the class of 2017 to have courage in their everyday lives in order to have a successful career.

“We tend to think of those who are courageous in terms of great historical figures like Abraham Lincoln fighting to maintain the Union, suffragists who died to win women the right to vote, or Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in order to fight for civil rights,” said Grossi. “But courage is needed in our everyday careers as well: speaking up against a policy or practice which is unfair or discriminatory or will hurt others; saying something if we witness bullying or sexual harassment; or plain old standing up for an idea in which you believe.”

Grossi has more than 30 years’ experience in public health, public policy and legislative affairs. Before joining AARP, she served for seven years as regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to that, she served as the Deputy Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After earning an associate degree from Bucks, Grossi earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

The college recognized Grossi’s achievements by granting her an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, presented by college president Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt and Board of Trustees chair Thomas Skiffington. 

‌The class of 2017 – which numbers 996 – also heard from one of its own. Razin Karu, who graduated from the college’s honors program with an associate degree in history, urged his classmates to work consistently to improve the world.

“We have this notion, that to achieve great things in our lives we have to do big and difficult things. I disagree,” said Karu, who moved to Bensalem from India four years ago. “I feel that great achievements of our lives are a result of small and often easy things done regularly, sincerely and persistently. The idea is to keep on going and not give up. It is not about intensity, it’s about consistency.”

In addition to graduating with honors, Karu immersed himself in campus life. He founded the Muslim Students Association and the Bucks College Democrats, and served as secretary and president of the Student Government Association. His academic success combined with campus involvement earned him the President’s Cup award from Dr. Shanblatt. Karu plans to transfer to a university ultimately work in diplomacy, foreign relations or higher education.

Also during commencement, the Bucks County Community College Alumni Association presented three Alumni Achievement Awards. Dr. Daniel McFarland (‘85), Associate Dean of the Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University, earned the Professional Acheivement award. Cheryl Campbell (‘13), Executive Director of the Christmas Gala, a nonprofit organization that serves low-income senior citizens, was presented with the Community Service award. And Bernard Wagenseller (‘89), Executive Director of the Upper Bucks County Technical School, was given the Distinguished Service award.

Earlier, Bucks celebrated top students at its annual Honors Convocation, presenting more than $275,000 in scholarships and awards in an afternoon ceremony. All told, more than 150 awards will be presented by President Shanblatt, Provost of Academic Affairs Lisa Angelo, and Dr. Tobias Bruhn, Vice President of Advancement. Most of the funds come from the BCCC Foundation, a nonprofit educational trust that manages a $7 million endowment.

Nursing graduates were honored with a pinning ceremony Wednesday, May 17, in the Gymnasium. Nearly 100 students who completed the college’s associate degree nursing program are poised to become registered nurses upon completion of state licensing exams.

View a photo album from commencement on the college's official Facebook page.

Jean Dolan
Assistant Director, Public Relations