50 Years Celebration
From its early days at Green Brook High School to today, RVCC has been the “College of Opportunity” for tens of thousands of students of all ages and backgrounds. Today RVCC is nationally recognized for its academic excellence & innovation, diversity initiatives, community service, environmental sustainability and more. The College is marking its 50th anniversary with a celebration of its successes and commitment to laying the foundation for the next 50 years of excellence, innovation and access.
RVCC's First Student
Celeste Onka didn’t want to get lost in a giant sea of freshman and she was still unsure of her career plans. The newspapers began writing about a two-year College being launched: Somerset County College. It was a perfect solution for Onka, who became the first student admitted. She joined the first class of 229 students on September 12, 1968 at the College’s temporary home: Green Brook High School.
Roots of Opportunity
Designed by Darren McMannus, RVCC Graphic Design Professor and Art Gallery Coordinator, Roots of Opportunity is a photo montage displayed near the front entrance to the College. It provides a glimpse into the early days of the College and the foundation for 50 years of opportunity, innovation and success.
Share Your Stories
Throughout the region, RVCC alumni are having a positive impact on their communities. They are serving the sick, the poor and the needy. They are protecting all of us by serving in law enforcement, the military and as first responders. They are business, education and government leaders and so much more. Share your stories and photos about how an RVCC graduate has enriched your life and community. firstname.lastname@example.org
A Gala Celebration
“Tonight, we come together to celebrate 50 years of remarkable achievement and to imagine an even more glorious future for our College…. We come together to salute RVCC’s singular and inspiring purpose: an ever-expansive commitment to access, to academic excellence, and to affordability…. We come together to applaud what our communities have achieved: a College of opportunity, a beacon of hope for all.” — RVCC President Michael J. McDonough
Steve Kalafer, Civic Leader Gala Honoree
Steve Kalafer, Founding Chairman, Flemington Car & Truck Country Family of Brands, and Somerset Patriots, has achieved extraordinary success as an astute businessman and intrepid entrepreneur. He also has been a major force for good in our community, giving of his personal resources to enrich, enhance, and inform people’s lives. His favorite motto - - Be Kind! Be fair! Work hard! Earn money! Do good! - - has been a guiding principle in his life, inspiring him to be deeply involved in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties and New Jersey civic undertakings.
Raymond L. Hughes II, Community Leader Gala Honoree
Raymond L. Hughes II, President, New Jersey Risk Managers & Consultants, Inc., and President, Hughes-Plumer & Associates, possesses the core values that RVCC holds so dearly: hard work; engaged citizenship, social responsibility and compassion for others. Ray cares deeply about making a positive difference in peoples’ lives, whether it’s his loyal support for Raritan Valley Community College or the many other nonprofit organizations throughout Somerset and Hunterdon Counties, including the Somerset County Park Foundation; the Adult Day Center (ADC) of Somerset County; and the Cooperative Housing Corp.
Martin Luther King Youth Center, Nonprofit Partner Gala Honoree
The Martin Luther King Youth Center is a non-profit, community-based organization in Bridgewater, NJ, that provides quality care in a nurturing learning environment for children of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Since 1995, Raritan Valley Community College service learning students have volunteered at the MLK Youth Center, and have worked closely with the children as tutors, mentors, and friends. Rajni Chopra has served as the Executive Director of the Center since 1993.
Johnson & Johnson, Corporate Partner & Gala Honoree
For more than three decades, Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies have provided loyal support to Raritan Valley Community College for nursing scholarships and educational initiatives like the Bridge to Employment and the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at RVCC. “At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life.”
Nemanja "Nik" Nikitovic, alum and faculty member
Nemanja "Nik" Nikitovic earned degrees in Engineering and Mathematics in 2005, was a founding member of RVCC’s Rotaract Club and served as the group’s second president from 2003-2004. Now an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at RVCC, he continues with his Rotaract involvement as club advisor. “RVCC made me who I am and I am simply returning the favor and passing on what I learned,” says Nikitovic, who’s been teaching at RVCC full-time since 2010.
RVCC Alumna Della Wallace, ʾ03
A paralegal with the DiFrancesco Bateman Law Firm for 15 years, Della Wallace is also the founder of Prom Kings and Queens, which provides prom wear to students free of charge. “I can hardly remember a day when someone at the College did not tell you to think outside the box, to give back when you can, to make a difference in the world. I simply followed the advice I was given,” says Wallace.
Daniel Puntillo, Alum and Honorary Degree Recipient
Daniel Puntillo, Executive Director of Middle Earth from 1974-2012, first began volunteering in the community as a teenager. But he believes his experience at the College was “the catalyst to bring community involvement to a new level. It put me in touch with the larger community I was living in.” Attending the College, adds Puntillo, was “one of the many influences in my life that helped me become who I am.”