Brookdale Community College will award degrees and certificates to an anticipated 1,845 students at two graduation ceremonies at the college’s 49th annual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 16. Brookdale will present honorary degrees to two individuals and honor two more with Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Students earning their Associate in Arts degrees will receive their diplomas at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Candidates receiving their Associate in Applied Science, Associate in Science, Associate in Fine Arts, Academic Credit Certificate of Achievement or Academic Credit Certificate will receive their diplomas or certificates at the 3 p.m. ceremony. Both take place at the Robert J. Collins Arena.
This year’s honorary degree recipients include:
Diane Raver is co-founder of the Garden State Film Festival (GSFF). GSFF made its debut in Asbury Park in 2003 and has grown substantially over the years. The 2019 event featured more than 240 films and attracted more than 25,000 people. The festival promotes the art of film making, provides educational programming to students, seniors and military year round. The annual event includes films from all around the world as well as showcasing local talent. In addition, there is an open casting call, panel discussions and hands on student workshops. GSFF has generated more than $8 million in economic activity in its 18-year history while paying tribute to New Jersey’s legacy as the birthplace of American film making.
Raver has enjoyed a long career in film and television production. She became the first female president of a commercial production company in New York City by breaking a glass ceiling and founding the Madison Group in 1987. During her year living in France, a cup of coffee in Cannes inspired Raver to create an all-encompassing film festival for New Jersey. The event is a platform for creativity and draws worldwide attention.
“Diane’s talents, drive and ambition led to a major global film festival right in our own backyard,” said Brookdale President Dr. David Stout. “The event draws the attention of those in the industry and provides an economic boost and entertainment to thousands every year.”
A Holmdel resident for 42 years, Francine Acquaviva has succeeded in numerous roles. As a wife and mother of four sons, she worked with her husband Ron to grow the family’s business enterprises, The Acquaviva Companies. The building and construction business has played an active role in the development of Holmdel and surrounding areas. Francine served as the interior designer for the projects and opened Unique Boutique.
She and her husband ventured into a new field in the 1990s and opened the Remington’s Café. The family restaurant brought community and business leaders together for many philanthropic endeavors for more than 30 years.
Never one to seek the limelight, Francine has contributed behind the scenes to many non-profit organizations throughout Monmouth County for more than three decades. She has served on boards and chaired galas for the Children’s Psychiatric Hospital, ARC, Hackensack Meridian’s Heart Fund, the Anabel Foundation and many others. She recently served as Co-Chair of the Tigger House Foundation annual “Bonfire on the Beach” fundraising event. This non-profit organization aims to reduce the rate of heroin and opiate addiction.
Francine and her husband Ron will also be honored at the Brookdale Foundation Scholarship Ball on May 17, 2019.
“Francine has helped to transform Monmouth County’s landscape in many ways,” said Brookdale President Dr. David Stout. “Regardless of the endeavor, her generosity and concern for community are always center stage.”
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award honorees are:
Thomas Bonhag ‘14
Tom Bonhag enjoyed a successful 46-year career in the financial services industry, holding senior level positions at AXA Financial, Winged Keel Group, the deBart Group, the Equitable Life Assurance Society and Chase Manhattan Bank. Bonhag earned professional credentials as a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy.
Bonhag earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University and an MBA from Saint John’s University. He served on the President’s Advisory Committee for Fordham, and Saint John’s University named him a “Distinguished Alumnus” on the 25th anniversary of his graduation.
Upon retiring in 2012, Bonhag earned his EMT certification and license. He also enrolled at Brookdale in the Health Information Technology program, earning his Associates Degree in 2014. He volunteers at the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA) and with the American Red Cross. He is a member of the Red Cross Disaster Health Services team and was deployed to California in 2018 to aid victims of the California wildfires.
Bonhag is a member of the Brookdale Community College Alumni Association Board of Trustees.
“With all his professional success, Tom has always given back to the community in so many ways,” said Brookdale President Dr. David Stout. “He has always been one to assist those in need through his voluntary work in Monmouth County and beyond. We are grateful for his service to Brookdale through the years.”
Sheriff Shaun Golden ‘89
As the 76th Sheriff of Monmouth County, Sheriff Golden oversees law enforcement, communications, corrections and administration of the Monmouth County Police Academy and the Office of Emergency Management. His experience includes serving as an EMT, certified paramedic and volunteer firefighter.
Sheriff Golden earned his Associate Degree from Brookdale Community College and holds a Master’s Degree in administration from Seton Hall University. He is a New Jersey Certified Public Manager and an adjunct professor at Monmouth University in the Department of Political Science and Public Policy. As Sheriff, he has been instrumental in promoting shared services in Monmouth County, specifically through the expansion of the Communications Division.
Sheriff Golden is the president of the Constitutional Officer’s Association of New Jersey (COANJ), a member of the Board of Trustees for the Monmouth-Ocean Foundation for Children (MOFFC), sits on the board of the Monmouth County Prevention Coalition and serves as Chairman of the Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts Exploring Committee. In 2013, Sheriff Golden received the Maurice Pollak Award for Distinguished Community Service from Monmouth University.
“Sheriff Golden’s commitment to the safety and well-being of Monmouth County residents and first responders is reflected across many initiatives though his years of dedicated service,” said Brookdale President Dr. David Stout. “He is recognized as an innovative leader in law enforcement nationally.”