For the second year in a row, Brookdale Community College celebrated the success of its graduates with drive-through commencement ceremonies on May 13-14 on the campus in the Lincroft section of Middletown.
Brookdale Community College is the county college of Monmouth County.
“Commencement 2021 was one for the record books,” said Yesenia Madas, associate vice president of student affairs. “We had hundreds of students, their families, and even their pets attend one of two drive-through processions.”
To comply with New Jersey’s COVID-19 regulations while still ensuring graduates had a chance to be recognized, Brookdale once again held an outdoor ceremony, according to a press release from the college.
“The event was intimate, but did not lack in personality,” Madas said. “We had charm, flair and tons of Brookdale pride.”
Graduates drove onto campus with their families and were greeted by faculty, administrators and staff members cheering and holding signs of congratulations.
Graduates stayed in their vehicle until they reached the graduation stage that was constructed in parking lot 2, according to the press release.
The arrival time of the graduates was scheduled so each graduate had the opportunity to experience walking across the stage by himself or herself.
Graduates had the opportunity to experience hearing their name announced as they walked across the stage to receive their diploma.
Since the graduation times were staggered, the graduates’ family members were able to exit their vehicle and had front row access to the stage to experience and capture the moment.
“Students and their families were not shy about letting us know how much they appreciated the event,” Madas said. “The Brookdale community is still talking about how special it was.”
The 2021 Brookdale Community College graduating class consisted of 1,645 students who earned degrees and certificates.
Of those graduates, 481 students graduated with various honors and distinctions, including distinguished scholars, members of the National Society of Leadership and Success, members of Brookdale’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and honors students.
In addition, eight graduates were recognized with the Outstanding Student Award for their academic achievements, community service and personal accomplishments.
The 2021 Outstanding Student Award recipients are:
• Susanna Falls and Adam Meliani for the Business and Social Science Institute;
• Mikael Khachatryan and Erika Villani for the Health Science Institute;
• Cecilia Alcantar and Bryce MacLeod Fagel for the Humanities Institute;
• Robert Mennella and Nora Thompson for the STEM Institute.
Brookdale recognized alumni Kristina Henderson and Barton Henderson, owner and co-founder of Henderson Promos, LLC, for their dedication to helping others.
Kristina and Bart donated more than 100,000 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic to food banks and other nonprofit organizations to help keep employees, volunteers and the community safe, according to the press release.
In addition, Chaz Bono was the recipient of an honorary degree. An actor, activist and author, Bono has a history of advocating for LGBTQ rights.
Bono continues to be a strong voice for the LGBTQ community and is a champion of equality for all Americans, especially those discriminated against and targeted because of race, religion, sex, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the press release.