Courier News: RVCC offers graduates a second chance and secure future
Donna Stolzer, Raritan Valley Community College
Published 5:00 a.m. ET May 17, 2019
Editor's note: The Branchburg-based Raritan Valley Community College is marking its 50th anniversary this year. This is the final installment of an ongoing monthly series of stories highlighting different aspects of the college and its role in the life of the Central Jersey community.
As Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) celebrates its commencement on May 18, over 1,300 students will join the tens of thousands of RVCC graduates from the past 50 years.
Students attend the college for a variety of reasons — some needing to save money before transferring to a four-year college; others looking for a second chance to succeed academically; others seeking career training; still others hoping to provide a better life for their families. Here are a few stories from the class of 2019:
Tori Hyman, Franklin
Tori Hyman of Franklin originally attended George Mason University, but left the school for medical reasons after a serious fall. Although doctors told her to wait a few years before returning to college, Hyman was determined to continue her education and enrolled at RVCC.
While at RVCC, Hyman served as president of the Black Student Alliance and as a senator for the Student Government Association.
She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Alpha Beta Gamma National Business Honor Society, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Hyman finished her coursework in December, and she is currently participating in a special co-op experience in Los Angeles as a supply chain demand planner with Neutrogena. This fall, she will be heading to Rutgers Business School — on a full scholarship — as a supply chain major.
Kaeley Ipson, Branchburg
Kaeley Ipson of Branchburg, a civil engineering major with a 4.0 GPA, decided to attend RVCC “because of the academic integrity and opportunity the school could afford me.” Ipson excelled inside and outside the classroom and was recognized nationally as a Newman Civic Fellow for her leadership skills and commitment to solving public problems. The Honors College student, who was selected to speak at RVCC’s 50th Anniversary Gala, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
The NJ STARS student is receiving the College’s Academic Award for Engineering. As President of RVCC’s Enactus team, Ipson worked on an “illuminut” shake-light project manufacturing eco-friendly lights, with profits benefitting a local food pantry. Ipson also participated in the College’s Authentic Engineering Experience in which she worked with real clients to help develop an actual product. Ipson has been accepted by several four-year engineering programs including The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University. This summer, she will continue to develop her engineering skills as an intern with
Thomas Boon, Hillsborough
Thomas Boon of Hillsborough says he didn’t really apply himself in high school, so he viewed RVCC “as a chance to start again.” And so he did, earning an Academic Award in Pre-Medicine and graduating with honors. Along the way he made the Dean’s List and President’s List for several semesters and was selected as a “mentee” for the Sanofi Corporate Mentorship Program as well as an ambassador for the program.
Boon is graduating with degrees in biology, pre-pharmacy and pre-medical professional. Active on campus, Boon served as president of the Health Oriented Peer Educators (HOPE) Club and as president and founder of the Raritan Valley Science Podcast (RV SciPod) Club. He also created a new college tradition last year with the “Stop Out Stigma” event. RVCC, says Boon, “taught me how to be a student and gave me a love of learning that I thought I had lost.” Boon will be studying biology at Rutgers University in the fall.
Karen Hartl, Lambertville
Karen Hartl of Lambertville began her studies at the college in 1982 when it was still Somerset County College. At the time, Hartl, who has degrees in biology and medical technology, decided to take one studio art class each semester for pure enjoyment. After retiring from a 40-year career as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, Hartl returned to RVCC in September 2018 to resume her studies.
Along the way, Hartl had continued her art training and had exhibited her paintings and prints at area shows. With her professional art experience, undergraduate degrees, and earlier credits from RVCC, Hartl is graduating with honors, earning an Associate of Fine Arts in Visual Arts. At RVCC, “I think they have some of the finest professors that I’ve ever been exposed to,” she says. “They’re professionals in their fields. They’re artists and historians and writers. They’re all very passionate about their work.”
David Iglesia, Branchburg
David Iglesia of Branchburg was enrolled at a four-year, out-of-state university, but before he even stepped foot on campus, he decided the cost was too high and RVCC would be a better option. Iglesia planned to study business, but after taking courses in speech and interpersonal communication, he realized that communications was his true passion.
He has been a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Iglesia is graduating from RVCC with a 3.91 GPA with degrees in four majors: social science, general Business, marketing and communications. This fall, he will be pursuing a degree in communication studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Pamela Walsh, Somerville
When Pamela Walsh of Somerville was going through a divorce a few years ago, she applied for several full-time jobs but her search was unsuccessful. A single mom of three children, one of whom has special needs, she thought going back to school to study nursing would “set my family up for a better future.” Walsh — who is able to pursue her RVCC degree with assistance from the Karolee Dousa Glassman Scholarship and the Somerset Hills AAUW Scholarship—says that balancing family life with children ages 8, 11 and 12 and full-time schoolwork in a rigorous program is a good lesson in prioritizing.
Despite the challenges, Walsh has risen to the occasion and has a GPA of over 3.5. After graduation, Walsh plans to study for her nursing boards and then apply for a job in the field. “It’s hard, but it’s possible,” she says. “Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back.”