The Fifty-Fifth Annual Commencement of Mercer County Community College (MCCC) was held on Friday, May 20th 2022. The ceremony honored 794 students, earning 847 degrees and certificates. Graduates ranged in age from 17 – 72 years old. Acting President Barbara Basel presided over the festivities.
The Commencement Address was delivered by Dr. Aamir A. Rehman, Board Chair of the MCCC Foundation. Dr. Rehman was awarded an honorary associates degree, marking the first time the College bestowed such an honor since its establishment in 1966.
To start off, Dr. Rehman shared how he was born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island. He shared how, for him, access to education opened many doors, starting with Harvard College and then the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Rehman realized the tremendous value of education, so much so, that Rehman would later attend Columbia University, where he earned a doctoral degree in education.
As the speech continued, Rehman shared how it was education that enabled him to enter the business world and work with leading organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, helping start, build, and sell businesses across a broad range of industries. It was also access to education that enabled him to write books, give lectures, and eventually teach MBA students. This was how education could transform the trajectory of a person, a family, and a community. And it was this shared commitment to grant everyone access to a high-quality education that led Dr. Rehman to fall in love with Mercer County Community College.
Rehman went on to explain how he has worked with hundreds of high achievers and people we would typically call successful – CEOs, professors, civil rights activists, doctors, authors, public officials, and even some royalty. But the lesson Dr. Rehman then offered the students took them by surprise, “Never measure your own success using someone else’s ruler.”
Rehman reminded the audience that, today, there were 794 successes to celebrate and no two of them were the same – each with a story worth cherishing, worth honoring, and worth celebrating. He recalled how some students took advantage of MCCC as a stepping stone to a four-year institution, others had to work multiple jobs while pursuing this degree hoping to move up the ranks in their workplace, and for others a “problem set” was not only a math assignment but also finding stable housing or finding someone to watch your children while you went to class. In closing, Dr. Rehman called upon each person to “take care of your bodies, develop your minds, and cultivate your hearts.”
“So, whether you trace your roots to Central New Jersey or Central America, Trenton or Trinidad, Robbinsville or Romania, the story is the same – every success can be traced to humble origins.” That’s the secret: never measure your own success using someone else’s ruler. “If you are better today – in knowledge, in skills, and most importantly in character — than you were yesterday, then you are achieving success.”