Rowan College at Burlington County celebrates its first commencement under new identity

Journal Staff Report | 5/16/2016, 1:27 p.m.
Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) celebrated its first commencement under its new identity, RCBC, on the new main campus ...
Rowan College at Burlington County's 2015-2016 Student Government Association (SGA) graduating officers celebrate their final days as RCBC students on the Mount Laurel campus.

Mount Laurel, New Jersey—Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) celebrated its first commencement under its new identity, RCBC, on the new main campus in Mount Laurel for the first time in the college’s history, reflecting both the innovative partnership with Rowan University and transformation of the site into a full-service campus experience on Saturday, May 14.

The college’s 46th Annual Commencement Ceremony celebrated more than 1,200 graduates and featured Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former RCBC student Gregory Pardlo delivering the keynote address.

In June 2015, RCBC entered into a historic partnership with Rowan University that created a path to a bachelor’s degree for about $25,000.

This year’s graduating class of 1,218 students range in age from 16 to 62. They earned 1,284 degrees and certificates, with 58 graduates earned more than one degree. More than 70 percent of the class earned at least a 3.0 GPA, bringing the class cumulative GPA to a 3.26. The Class of 2016 also includes 25 international students who hail from 21 different countries.

The Class of 2016’s valedictorian is Kevin Wright, of Cherry Hill, a stay-at home father, who despite several obstacles achieved great academic success. Wright will graduate with highest honors and an Associate of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Originally from England, Wright moved to the United States in 1998 at the age of 27. In his 30s, he learned he had dyslexia; however, Wright challenged himself and started taking pre-requisite college courses. In his second semester at RCBC, he passed the GED test (now known as the high school equivalency diploma) at RCBC’s Willingboro Center. Three weeks into his first semester at RCBC, he and his wife became proud new parents. With encouragement from his RCBC professors, he decided to aim even higher and transferred to Thomas Jefferson University’s nursing program for his bachelor’s degree, which he will receive a month after getting his associate degree from RCBC. This summer, he will start the University of Pennsylvania’s Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program for his master’s degree.

A few standout graduate stories were highlighted during the ceremony. They include a student who participated in RCBC’s unique undergraduate research program and became published in a peer-reviewed national chemistry journal; a veteran who transitioned from infantryman to medic to dental hygiene major; twin sisters graduating from RCBC’s nursing program; an international student who decided to forego a free college education in her home country for an RCBC degree; and a student transferring to an Ivy League institution after earning her first degree from RCBC at the age of 38.

The Health Sciences Pinning Ceremony, which includes a symbolic candle lighting ceremony, pledges and pinning of the Health Sciences graduates, took place on May 12 under the graduation tent at the Mount Laurel campus.