Brookdale Community College proudly announces the successful conclusion of this year’s graduation ceremony, honoring the outstanding achievements of its graduating class. The event at the college’s Collins Arena marked a momentous milestone in the lives of 1,440 students who received their well-deserved degrees, which included 34 military and veteran graduates, 89 Early College High School graduates, future healthcare heroes, and many first-generation college graduates.

Student speaking at Commencement ceremony on stage at the podium.
Dominic R. Sama

The morning ceremony began with a heartwarming speech from Dominic R. Sama, president of the Student Life Board, who graduated with an associate degree in political science and will be attending Montclair State University in the fall, followed by Olayi A. Calderon, who delivered an empowering address during the afternoon ceremony. Calderon, who graduated with an Academic Credit Certificate in paralegal studies, recently took her LSAT and has her sights set on law school to embark on her journey toward becoming an attorney. The words of both speakers resonated with the graduating class, emphasizing the importance of courage, dedication, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

Distinguished guests honored the occasion, including Monmouth County Board of Commissioners Director Mr. Thomas A. Arnone, Commissioner Ms. Susan M. Kiley and Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Paul Crupi. Mr. Crupi emphasized Brookdale’s dedication to academic excellence, highlighting Brookdale’s remarkable value and affordability.

“Brookdale is ranked number one in New Jersey and within the top three percent of all community colleges in the nation because we have invested in top ranked faculty and staff who are dedicated to academic success,” he stated. Continuing his remarks, Crupi added, “On average, our graduates have higher GPAs at their transfer colleges than the students who start out as freshmen at those other colleges. This is due to the support services, academic and career advising and student life opportunities available to all here. We also ensure that you are getting the highest quality education possible at an affordable cost. On average you have saved more than $24,000 compared to your peers who began their academic journeys at New Jersey state colleges.”

Three female students with President Dr. Stout in their caps and gowns and regalia.
Belinda A. Asamoah, President Dr. David M. Stout, Incoming Graduate Trustee Rebekah Fischoff, and Outgoing Graduate Trustee Taiphane Orange.

President Dr. David M. Stout extended a warm welcome to the graduates and shared the remarkable achievements of the class of 2023. Among the graduates were 249 students who received honorable distinctions, including 82 distinguished scholars and 113 members of honor societies such as Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and discipline specific honor societies for business administration, nursing, human services, and psychology. Additionally, 12 graduates earned honors in Global Distinction and Women in Leadership and Learning Distinction. Notably, 42 graduates achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, a testament to their dedication and hard work.

Outstanding Students, Alexander, Brennan, Moccio IV
Outstanding Students, Alexander, Brennan, Moccio IV

The ceremony also recognized six outstanding individuals with the Outstanding Student Awards from each academic institute. Steven Moccio, IV, AS, Business Administration and Christina J. Urbano, AA, Education; Iana Dunaevskaia, AA, Health Science; Ewurafua Kumpah Acquaah, AA, Liberal Arts; Jennifer Alexander, AS, Computer Science and Joseph Michael Brennan, AS, Biology.

Outstanding Students, Acquaah, Dunaevskaia, Urbano, and Rebekah Fischoff incoming Graduate Trustee with Triangle Award
Outstanding Students, Acquaah, Dunaevskaia, Urbano, and Fischoff Incoming Graduate Trustee with Triangle Award

Moreover, the college presented honorary degrees to Stephanie Hueston-Paden and Douglas Quinn for their exceptional contributions to their respective fields and unwavering commitment to community service.

Brookdale Community College honored two notable alumni with the 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award. Sean P. O’Halloran, a 1999 graduate, demonstrated his dedication to education through a diverse professional journey, including a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Brookdale, a master’s degree from Farleigh Dickenson University, and completion of prestigious law enforcement programs. Dana Tango, a renowned researcher in biomechanics, motion analysis, and wound care, received recognition for her groundbreaking work in epidemiology and infectious disease prevention. Beyond her research, Tango has been an educator and advocate for diversity and inclusion in academia and healthcare. These exceptional alumni embody Brookdale’s values and serve as inspiring role models for current and future students.

As the graduates embark on their respective journeys, Brookdale Community College wishes them joy and success in all their future endeavors. The college remains committed to providing quality education and empowering individuals to create positive change in their communities.

Olayi A. Calderon Brookdale Community College Commencement Graduate

Olayi A. Calderon Brookdale Community College Commencement Graduate

As Caldron expressed, “At Brookdale, in every interaction I have had in and outside the classroom, it is apparent that every employee here cares. And her closing statement to the graduates was, “Wherever the next chapter of our life story takes us, let’s make sure the journey includes joy above all else.” 

For more information about Brookdale Community College and its programs, visit