Brookdale Community College awarded degrees and certificates to 1,544 students at two graduation ceremonies at the college’s 52nd annual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 12. In addition, Brookdale presented honorary degrees to Danny & Maria Clinch and a posthumous honorary degree to Donnalyn Giegerich-Zapcic.

Honorary degree recipients are awarded for achieving excellence in their professional accomplishments, community service, personal accomplishments, and life achievements that are inspirational to Brookdale students.

Danny Clinch began his professional career as an intern with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. He has captured many famous faces, such as Bob Dylan, Tupac Shakur, Johnny Cash, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, and countless other musical legends. His work has been in publications worldwide, placed in numerous galleries, and published in four books. In addition, he founded the film company, Three on the Tree Productions. In 2021, he moved his photography studio from New York to Asbury Park, NJ, where he opened Transparent Gallery in 2016. The Gallery shows his award-winning work and hosts musicians in an intimate performance space. He is also one of the founders of the Sea Hear Now Festival in Asbury Park, which attracts more than 30,000 people and brings commerce, employment, and notoriety to the residents of Asbury Park and Monmouth County.

“Danny got his start as a New Jersey community college student and is an inspiration for our Brookdale students and graduates,” said Brookdale’s President David M. Stout, Ph.D. “Together, Danny and Maria’s philanthropic contributions to our community have had a powerful impact.”

Danny and Maria are fierce advocates for the greater Asbury Park community. In addition to bringing commerce and opportunity to Asbury Park through Danny’s work, he and Maria are collectively focused on their philanthropy work. Many of their events are sales of Danny’s work. They all support numerous Asbury Park organizations, such as Garden State Equality (LGBTQ+), Konscious Youth Development Service (KYDS), Asbury Park Music Foundation, and the Asbury Park African American Music Project. All have benefitted from the Clinch’s efforts in the past year. Additionally, in 2021 Danny and Maria were acknowledged for their charitable work with a Congressional Award.

Donnalyn Giegerich-Zapcic will be remembered as a nationally known motivational speaker, a leadership trainer, and a success coach. As an award-winning business owner and life experience expert, she lived her life empowering people to pursue their dreams despite adversity.

Donnalyn had business interests in two New Jersey insurance agencies and was co-founder of the non-profit Kick Cancer Overboard. She is best known for supporting and connecting people with like-minded goals and interests. She offered wellness, yoga, and spiritual-based workshops for those battling cancer, and her non-profit provides a free cruise as a respite for those who are stricken with the disease.

“Donnalyn’s impact on the community development in Monmouth County was unparalleled,” said Brookdale’s President David M. Stout, Ph.D. “She used her talents and strengths to serve others and was a staunch supporter of Brookdale Community College.”

Inspiring that feeling of community in everything she did, Donnalyn has taken courses at Brookdale, taught at Brookdale, and guest lectured at Brookdale. She sponsored student field trips to arts and cultural events and was a decade-long host of Brookdale international students. In addition, she was committed to charitable work and served on numerous business boards. She has been honored by the Women’s Red Bank Club, the Monmouth Rotary Club, and the Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.

Donnalyn graduated from Albright College and received her Master of Business Administration degree from Monmouth University. She was a tenured Certified Insurance Counselor at The National Alliance and a Registered Yoga Teacher.  In addition, she taught Speech Communication at Brookdale and was an entrepreneurial consultant and insurance expert for America’s Small Business Development Center.

She enjoyed sharing the intersection of her business and life experiences with her students. Often they were invited and encouraged to attend seminars where she served as the keynote speaker and offered the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice by introducing her. Her enthusiasm for teaching was contagious, resulting in countless letters of accolades from her students.

Living her life to the fullest every day as a business owner, wellness advocate, and a midlife model for rare cancer awareness, Donnalyn was a spokesmodel, blogger, and columnist featured in five books. She won the cover model search for renowned Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, MA, and The Mrs. New Jersey pageant as Mrs. Red Bank. Wasting no time, one of her greatest joys was traveling the world with her husband of 30 years.