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More Than 1,700 Degrees and Certificates to be Awarded at 2016 Commencement Ceremony


(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA • May 18, 2016)—More than 1,700 degrees and certificates will be conferred to students at Delaware County Community College’s Commencement at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, May 19 at The Pavilion at Villanova University. The Commencement speaker will be alumna Dr. Luli Akinfiresoye ‘04, a pharmacologist who works with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion. Dr. Akinfiresoye also is an assistant professor of Chemistry and of Pharmacology at Northern Virginia Community College.

Dr. Akinfiresoye was selected to be the College’s 2016 Alumni Professional Achievement Award winner. A native of Nigeria, she came to America with her family, became a U.S. citizen and enrolled at the College in 2003. She has an Associate in Science degree from the College, a Bachelor of Science from Temple University, a Master of Science in Clinical Chemistry from the University of Scranton, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Howard University.

She is a pharmacologist with Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions (CNTS), which was recently hired by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). At CNTS, she provides expertise to the DEA’s Office of Diversion, which works to prevent, detect and investigate the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals and chemicals from legitimate sources, while ensuring supply for legitimate medical, commercial and scientific needs.

The following are some of the graduates in the Class of 2016:

Vanessa Beltran Velez of Colombia, South America – is an international student and the Class of 2016 Commencement student speaker. Five years ago, Beltran Velez came to America from Colombia and did not speak English. Today, she not only speaks English, but is an outstanding student. She is the president of the student-led Latin Flavor Club; a member of the faculty-led Latino Initiatives Outreach Network (LION); vice president of the Student Government Association; a Phi Theta Kappa member; a student ambassador; a mentor; and a member of the Student Conduct Committee. Graduating with an Associate in Fine Arts degree, she intends to transfer to a four-year school to continue her education in graphic design, and then pursue a career in product management and marketing.

Sameena Elkhashab of Broomall, Delaware County –is one of two students at the College recognized earlier this year by the international Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges as All-Pennsylvania scholars. The All-PA distinction carries with it a full-tuition scholarship for up to two years at one of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. A single mother of three children who works full-time as a teacher’s assistant with special needs students at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia, Elkhashab plans on pursuing both Bachelor and Master degrees in Social Work, and becoming a social worker, specifically to help foreigners who suffer from abuse.

Katie Thompson of Honey Brook, Chester County – is the second 2016 All-PA student at the College, joining 45 All-PA scholars statewide. Thompson works part-time as a dog trainer and is a salesperson at PetValu. She is vice president of fellowship for the College’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, vice president for membership for the College’s Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and treasurer for the College’s Modern Environmental Sustainability Association. She also volunteers to help feed, shelter and find homes for orphaned dogs and cats. Thompson plans on earning a Master in Science degree toward her goal of becoming a restoration ecologist.

Jamie Philipp of West Chester, Chester County – is president of the College’s Student Business Society, which sponsors events and helps arrange guest speakers, such as faculty and alumni, to talk to students about business careers. Philipp works part-time at a men’s clothing store and at a retirement community. A stellar student, she will be receiving an Associate in Science degree in Business. She was recently accepted to Widener University, and plans to pursue a career in accounting, or possibly go to law school. She is a member of the Delco Cruisers, a local car owners group that does charitable work in the community. She follows in the footsteps of her sister, alumna Nichole Philipp ‘12, an engineering major, All-PA scholar, and the only community college student in Pennsylvania to be named as one of 50 Coca-Cola New Century Scholars nationwide in 2012.

Dayna Garrison of Upper Darby, Delaware County – is a straight-A student who works part-time as a Biology and Chemistry peer tutor. Because of her leadership skills and outstanding academic performance, Garrison was recently nominated to participate in the (ISLP) International Scholar Laureate Program’s Delegation on Nursing and Healthcare. The ISLP is a tuition-based, short-term study abroad program. A member of the College’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Garrison will receive an Associate in Science degree in Science for Health Professions. She plans on transferring to a four-year college in the fall to pursue a Bachelor in Science degree in Nursing. She has already been accepted to several nursing schools in the area. “Nurses are very inspirational and help to save lives,” she says.

Pablo Muntaner of Exton, Chester County – is a native of Argentina, who already has earned two associate degrees from the College, having maintained a 4.0 grade point average while majoring in Computer Programming and Web Development. He took two more classes at the College to prepare for his planned transfer to West Chester University, where he has been accepted and where he plans to earn a Bachelor in Science degree in Computer Science. Muntaner also owns Cypcon, LLC, a security surveillance business, and juggles the responsibilities of parenting two young children.

Khayyir Laws of Chester, Delaware County – despite having lost his house in a fire and having become a father at a young age, Laws will graduate with an Associate in Applied Science degree having majored in General Studies. Laws is an outstanding athlete who plays guard for the College’s Phantoms basketball team. Last year, he was named Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Athlete of the Week, after he led the Phantoms to a victory over Thaddeus Stevens College by scoring a career high 37 points, along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Harbir Randhawa & Rajbinder Randhawa of Millbourne, Delaware County – sisters Harbir and Rajbinder are following in each other’s footsteps. Both will receive an Associate in Science degree in Nursing. Both are volunteer firefighters in their hometown of Millbourne. Both are peer mentors and new student orientation leaders at the College. Both also have been accepted into West Chester University, where they plan to earn Bachelor of Science degrees in Nursing.

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