More Than 1,500 Students to Graduate from the College
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • May 13, 2019)—More than 1,500 students will receive associate degrees and certificates during Delaware County Community College’s 2019 Commencement to be held at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, May 16 at West Chester University’s Hollinger Field House.
This year will feature several first-time additions to mark the historical milestone of the College celebrating its first graduating class 50 years ago, when the school was called the Community College of Delaware County. “Since that first Commencement in 1969, more than 43,000 students have graduated from Delaware County Community College, demonstrating the significant impact the College has had on Delaware and Chester Counties, as well as on the entire Greater Philadelphia region,” said Delaware County Community College President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black.
In honor of the special occasion, this year’s Commencement will be live-streamed at dccc.edu/live and at dccc.edu/youtube, and three alumni, who were among the first 24 students to graduate from the College in 1969, will participate in the 2019 ceremony as the first-ever Alumni Ushers. In addition, for the first time, five previous faculty winners of the Gould Award, the College’s highest honor for exceptional teaching, will proudly lead graduates into the ceremony while carrying gonfalons—square, flag-like banners, suspended from a crossbar, that represent the different degrees within the College.
This year’s Commencement keynote speaker is 2019 Alumni Professional Achievement Award winner Gwendolyn McCullough ’18 of Havertown, chief of staff for Pennsylvania State Representative Michael Zabel. Last year, McCullough walked across the stage at West Chester University’s Hollinger Field House twice, once when she graduated from Delaware County Community College with an associate degree in General Studies, and six months later, when she received a bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies from West Chester University.
McCullough’s impressive and rapid rise to a prominent position in state government is all the more remarkable because five years ago she was addicted to drugs and alcohol and an inmate at Delaware County’s George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Today, as a recovering alcoholic, she thrives on helping others and is grateful for the role that Delaware County Community College played in helping her regain her footing in life.
“To those thinking about going back to school, there are sometimes barriers that you will encounter, but don’t let them stop you,” McCullough says.
Among the more than 1,500 students graduating on May 16 will be Commencement student speaker Chan-Woo Kim of Havertown, a mathematics major who will receive an Associate in Science degree. An international student who plans to become a mathematician, Kim almost dropped out of high school while in his native Korea because he was discouraged by people who said he would not succeed. But Kim persevered, came to America and blossomed at the College, becoming a student math tutor, an alumni ambassador, a tour guide and the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Student Award. Kim is considering transferring to locally based Swarthmore College, or Colby College in Maine.
Joining Kim on May 16 will be Em Mirra and Zun Phyu Thant, both of Havertown. Mirra and Thant were recently honored by the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges for their academic prowess and their community service. They were among 47 scholars from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges named to the 2019 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team, an honor which includes a full-tuition scholarship for up to two years to one of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) 14 universities. Both plan to attend PASSHE schools.
Mirra, who identifies as transgender non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, also was one of only 50 scholars selected nationally for a Coca-Cola Silver Scholarship of $1,250. A graphic design major who plans to attend Kutztown University’s Communication Design Bachelor of Fine Arts program, Mirra hopes to one day work for the United Nation’s Graphic Design Unit. “By working in-house for the United Nations, I can help design for awareness campaigns on topics of global concern,” they said.
Thant, an engineering major and native of Myanmar in Southeast Asia, plans to attend West Chester University. She hopes to work as an engineer for Exelon Corporation, or at PJM Interconnection LLC, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in 13 states and the District of Columbia. “Since I was young, I was always inspired by Thomas Alva Edison. The reason is because in my country, electricity is supplied only six hours a day, and even then power outages occur during those six-hour periods,” Thant said. “Therefore, I always have dreamed of being the engineer who can provide electricity at all times to all people, reliably and economically.”