Brookdale Community College celebrated the Class of 2024 with a heartfelt commencement ceremony, honoring the achievements and future aspirations of its graduates.

This year, 1,577 students graduated, including 26 U.S. Armed Forces veterans, international students from 18 countries, and 65 early college high school graduates. Among them, 39 students achieved perfect 4.0 GPAs, and many were members of national honor societies. The Jersey Blues student-athletes earned 36 athletic honors, including three NJCAA All-American honors and 64 academic honors.

Dr. David M. Stout, President of Brookdale Community College, shared inspiring words with the graduates: “Your time at Brookdale has been a journey of growth and discovery, where you’ve embraced valuable lifelong lessons and forged lasting friendships. You’ve faced challenges, pulled all-nighters, and achieved academic success. Every mistake you made became a steppingstone to your triumphs. You didn’t let adversity stop you; instead, you rose above it, shaping a clearer sense of who you are. Now, you stand ready to embrace the future with confidence and resilience.”

Paul Crupi, Chair of the Board of Trustees, highlighted Brookdale’s standing as a top community college in New Jersey and its exceptional academic environment. “An outstanding hallmark of our institution is the exceptional academic environment that we provide,” he said. “On average, our graduates attain higher GPAs at their transfer colleges than their peers who began their studies there as a freshman. This accomplishment is largely attributed to the robust academic support services, comprehensive advising, and vibrant student life opportunities that are available to you here.” He emphasized the significant savings Brookdale provides, allowing students to achieve their educational goals affordably.

The morning ceremony featured Ana Heloisa Carvalho from Long Branch, NJ, who delivered inspiring greetings on behalf of her class. Graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in Secondary Education, Ana worked as a student employee in the Career Center, assisting her peers in navigating their career paths. She plans to transfer to Monmouth University to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, with the goal of becoming a high school English teacher.

The audience, filled with family, friends, and distinguished guests, warmly welcomed Ana to the stage. She addressed her classmates with a message of resilience and hope. Reflecting on her unique educational journey, Ana emphasized the transformative experience Brookdale provided, even amidst the challenges of the pandemic.

“Brookdale embraced me with open arms,” Ana said. “Even through the pandemic, the beautiful campus and supportive community made a world of difference.”

She shared personal anecdotes about the supportive environment at Brookdale, from the math lab and writing center to her enriching experience at the Career Center. Ana’s heartfelt words resonated deeply as she quoted Andy Bernard from “The Office,” expressing a wish to recognize the good times before they pass.

“My fellow graduates, Brookdale has been an incredible home to us,” she continued. “Our professors, administration, and staff have supported and believed in us every step of the way. To our families and friends, your guidance and encouragement have brought us to this moment. And to the Class of 2024, this is our moment. Be proud of all we’ve accomplished.”

Ana concluded her speech with a nod to Marvel fans, quoting Tony Stark: “Part of the journey is the end. But our ending here at Brookdale is just the beginning of a new chapter.” Following her inspiring speech, Ana received a standing ovation. Dr. Stout praised Ana for her contributions and the bright future she embodies.

The ceremony continued with welcoming remarks from Thomas A. Arnone, Director of the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners. He acknowledged the graduates’ diverse paths and assured them of the strong foundation Brookdale has provided for their futures. “In years to come, I assure you, that one of the best decisions that you’ve made in your career was coming here to Brookdale.” Director Arnone commended the college for its commitment to excellence and the community’s role in supporting these achievements.

Four graduates showing their outstanding student awards.
Outstanding students

Brookdale recognized the achievements of its exceptional students from various institutes: Sara Artelli (Holmdel), and Brianna Dudley (Belmar), from the Business & Social Science Institute; John Rodriguez from the Health Science Institute; Gianella Rios (Eatontown) from the Humanities Institute; and Michael Loff (Neptune) and Tee-jay Salmon (Neptune) from the STEM Institute.

In addition to outstanding student achievements, Brookdale Community College commemorated the contributions of two distinguished individuals. Mr. Matthew Modine and Mr. T.S. Nandakumar were honored with prestigious degrees in recognition of their remarkable accomplishments and dedication to their respective fields.

Mr. Matthew Modine, an acclaimed actor, filmmaker, and activist, was conferred with an honorary associate’s degree in letters. With a career spanning over four decades, Modine has captivated audiences worldwide with his iconic roles in film and television. From his unforgettable performance in “Full Metal Jacket” to his recent portrayal in the global phenomenon “Stranger Things,” Modine’s talent and versatility have earned him widespread acclaim. Beyond his contributions to the entertainment industry, Modine is renowned for his passionate advocacy for social and environmental causes. His not-for-profit organization, Bicycle for a Day, has spearheaded initiatives to promote sustainability and eco-consciousness, while his filmmaking endeavors have shed light on pressing social issues.

Matthew Modine

In accepting the honorary degree, Modine delivered an inspiring address, emphasizing the importance of kindness and forgiveness. He said, “This is not advice. This is an observation. Tomorrow will be 100% different than today. And one day, you will wake up from a lucid dream and realize that all the fussing and fighting was really stupid and that what’s really important is that you wake up and see that there are peaceful solutions to most everything.”

Mr. T.S. Nandakumar, a distinguished musician and educator, was also honored with an honorary associate’s degree in letters. With a career spanning over four decades, Nandakumar has dedicated himself to the art of Carnatic music and percussion. As the founder of the Sans Percussion Arts Center, Nandakumar has nurtured countless students and enriched communities through his passion for music. “Music, like an ocean, worlds and boundless,” he said. “And its learning is a journey that never ends.” He emphasized the importance of pursuing one’s passion and embracing lifelong learning.

Brookdale Community College’s 2024 graduates have left a lasting impact through their academic achievements and community service. The college community proudly celebrates their successes and looks forward to their future endeavors.

Here is a link to some photos: