RVCC Celebrates Graduates at Second Virtual Commencement

Saturday, May 15, 2021
catherine namuli

Raritan Valley Community College celebrated the successes and achievements of over 1,300 graduates at the College’s second Virtual Commencement, held Saturday, May 15.

Held as a YouTube watch party, the ceremony featured student and faculty speeches; video greetings from RVCC’s administration, Board of Trustees members and dignitaries; student videos; and slides and photos highlighting the graduates. In addition, RVCC graduate Jamie Mallinson performed an original piece, “Raritan Valley Fanfare,” on trumpet. She was accompanied on piano by Dr. Anna Keiserman, RVCC Assistant Professor of Music.

Kevin Spencer, an award-winning performing artist and educator who is a champion of using the art of magic to impact change in the lives of children with developmental disabilities and other special populations, served as the Commencement Speaker. He also received an honorary degree during the ceremony.

In his video message to the graduates, Spencer said: “Every day you have an opportunity to create something magical, perform in ways that impact the world around you, and reflect on where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Congratulations to all of you – go out and change the world.”

Spencer shared his own acronym for CPR: “Create. Perform. Reflect.” It’s a formula, he said, that has helped him in every phase of his life. Spencer, who followed his childhood dream of becoming a magician, urged the graduates not to be afraid “to create, to take a risk, to step outside your comfort zone and do something bigger than yourself.”

The speaker shared how his own role dramatically changed after a serious car accident left him with brain and lower spinal cord injuries. As a result of his own experiences in rehabilitation, he partnered with therapists to develop a treatment program using magic tricks. This new professional role, said Spencer, is “one of the most challenging, most life-changing, and most fulfilling aspects of who I am and what I do.” He told the graduates, “the lesson I learned is simple: Make the most of every moment and every opportunity.”

Spencer urged graduates to “continually ask if you are trying to achieve your real goals or are you merely seeking the approval of others.” Noting that the class of 2021 already has achieved a significant goal by graduating, the speaker said, “it is important as you exit this stage and make your entrance onto the next one that you are the person who defines what success is and means for you.”

Catherine Linet Namuli of Upper Gwynedd, PA, served as the Student Commencement Speaker. A native of Uganda, Namuli said she came to the United State to challenge herself academically. “I chose to begin at a community college because it offered a chance to explore endless opportunities and career interests while providing a more affordable path to a bachelor’s degree.”

Namuli is a member of RVCC’s Honor’s College and serves as a Mentor in its Mentorship Program. The Liberal Arts major is graduating from RVCC Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 Grade Point Average.

Active in College life, she serves as Vice President of the Rotaract Club, a Student Ambassador for the Women’s Center, and is part of the Changebuilder Program. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She plans to study International Relations at a four-year school and already has been accepted at several universities. Her future goals include working as a Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations and/or working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to address and tackle human rights issues, especially in third-world countries, focusing on global health, gender equality, and international security.

“We have graduated from the best community college in New Jersey that’s not only exceptional in academics, but has a solid sense of community. It has supported each one of us on our journey,” Namuli continued. “As we move forward in life, I hope that we, the Raritan Valley Community College class of 2021, continue to build strong communities and defy the odds.”

Alexa Offenhauer of Clinton, RVCC Assistant Professor of English, delivered the faculty address. A New Jersey native, she received a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University and a Master’s Degree from Western Carolina University. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, and is writing her dissertation on reading theory and its place in the composition classroom.

Noting how much the past year, including the pandemic, political upheaval, social equality, climate change and more, has demonstrated how connected everyone is around the world, Offenhauer told the graduates, “it means that, along your journey to this moment, you almost certainly got some help from somebody along the way.…And someday, if you haven’t already, you’ll turn around and share that support and that help with someone else. You’ll help like you were helped.”

“Our global connectedness means that, no matter what you do next, no matter how big or small it feels, you’re changing the world. What you put out there—the help you give, the way you make people feel, the work you do well—it impacts other people. And while you are out there changing the world, I hope you will always remember that, no matter what life throws at you, you’ve already proven that you can do hard things. So congratulations, class of 2021. We are, truly, so very proud of you.”

To watch Raritan Valley Community College’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony, visit Raritan Valley Community College RVCC Spring 2021 Virtual Commencement (marchingorder.com).

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 15, 2021

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

PR #91