RVCC Awards Degrees, Certificates to Close to 1,200 Graduates


RVCC Awards Degrees, Certificates to Close to 1,200 Graduates

Monday, May 13, 2024
graduates throwing caps in air

Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) awarded associate degrees and certificates to close to 1,200 graduates at its commencement on Saturday, May 11. The ceremony was held on the soccer field at the College’s Branchburg campus. Dr. Kareem McKenzie, a former professional athlete who played for both the New York Jets and the New York Giants and is now a Nationally Certified Counselor, delivered the commencement address and received an honorary degree during the ceremony.

The program featured Jordan Barge of Somerset as the student commencement speaker. Ronald A. Tyson, RVCC Associate Professor of English, delivered the faculty commencement address.

Dr. Kareem McKenzie, a New Jersey native who grew up in Willingboro, is a licensed counselor and former professional athlete who played 11 years as an offensive tackle for both the New York Jets and the New York Giants. His career with the Giants brought him two Super Bowl wins—Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI—both Championship contests against the New England Patriots.

While a player, Dr. McKenzie also interned with the National Football League. In those roles, he assisted managers in understanding players’ perspectives better and offered insight regarding services provided to current and former players in the NFL.

After retiring from professional football, the graduate of Penn State, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management, continued his education to prepare for his second career: as a counselor. Dr. McKenzie pursued a graduate degree, earning a Master of Education in Professional Counseling from William Paterson University of New Jersey.

During his career as a counseling intern and later as a counselor, Dr. McKenzie has provided his services to individuals and groups of all ages. He has worked as a member of a psychiatric treatment team, handling intake assessments, co-facilitating group therapy sessions for adolescents and adults, conducting individual therapy sessions, and advocating for patients.

Dr. McKenzie also has worked with the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of the New York Tri-State Area. He served as a spokesperson and a selection committee member for the RMHC African American Future Achievers Scholarship Fund, which offers scholarships to students in financial need who have demonstrated academic achievement, leadership, and community involvement.

A Nationally Certified Counselor, Dr. McKenzie received his PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from Kean University.

Student Commencement Speaker Jordan Barge completed an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice from RVCC in December, graduating Summa Cum Laude as a member of the Honors College. She is receiving the Academic Award for Criminal Justice. Barge now attends John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she is studying International Criminal Justice and working as a Peer Career Educator in the Career Center.

While at RVCC, Barge, an Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) student and Student Ambassador, served as President of the Criminal Justice Club and Vice President of Leadership and Service for the Orgullo Latino Club. She received the Cento Amici and Raritan Promise scholarships, as well as the President's Volunteer Gold Service Award and the annual Service Learning Leadership Award.

Barge also has gained valuable experience interning for several organizations and groups, including the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office (Sex Crimes Unit), the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, NJ Courts (Criminal Division), and the RVCC Achievement Center.

This summer, she will be attending the Monmouth County Police Academy and serving as a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class 1. Barge will be interning this fall with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal law enforcement agency.

Ronald A. Tyson, Associate Professor of English, has been teaching at RVCC for 20 years. He received his B.A. in English from City College-City University of New York, and his M.A. in Literatures in English from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Professor Tyson is a native Harlemite and still considers New York to be his home, even though he has been living in New Jersey for 30 years and in Monmouth County for nearly 25 years.

His academic interests include Composition/Rhetoric Theory, Colonial and 19th-Century American Literature, U.S. History, African American Literature and Culture, African Diaspora Studies, American Ethnic Literature, and U.S. Popular Culture. In his recent scholarly work, Professor Tyson has been looking at the relationships between myth and history as related to African American literature and culture.

Also participating in the ceremony was RVCC graduate Sandra Faragalla of Neshanic Station, who introduced the faculty commencement speaker. The Communication Studies major is graduating from the College Summa Cum Laude.

While a student at RVCC, Faragalla has been involved with Service Learning and other volunteering efforts on and off-campus, including assisting at the College’s Resource Center and Food Pantry and helping in planning the Note Bene awards ceremony. Faragalla received the United States President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Non-Profit Civic Engagement Award.

An RVCC Foundation Student Representative, Faragalla was a Mentee of the Sanofi Corporate Mentor & Scholarship Program and was the recipient of the Axel Velden, Lion’s Pride, Raritan Promise, and Phi Theta Kappa Membership scholarships.

Some of her campus leadership roles have included serving as an active representative of the A-Board – Student Activities Planning Board. Faragalla plans to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor's degree in communication studies.



May 11, 2024

Media contact: Donna Stolzer, 908-526-1200, ext. 8383

PR #113