MCC Spring Commencement to be Held May 9

(Bradenton, Fla., May 6, 2009) - Manatee Community College (MCC) Spring 2009 commencement exercises will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday, May 9, in the Neel Performing Arts Center at MCC Bradenton, 5840 26th St. West.  Out of 680 students eligible for graduation, 277 are expected to participate in the ceremonies.

To accommodate the number of students graduating this spring, MCC will be holding two separate ceremonies for associate in applied science graduates and associate in science graduates at 10 a.m. and associate in arts graduates at 1 p.m.

The guest speaker will be Joseph K. Cooper, an MCC alumnus and 2007 graduate of Harvard University. Cooper is the only former MCC student speaker to be invited back as commencement speaker. Cooper, who came to MCC as a 23-year-old U.S. Army veteran, found opportunities to hone his abilities, exceeding his own expectations. While at MCC, Cooper became a Phi Theta Kappa honors society member and graduated summa cum laude (3.9 to 4.0 grade point average).

Now as a graduate of an Ivy League school, Cooper is pursuing his dream of one day entering public service. His experience includes working at the national level during the 2004 election and for a 2008 congressional campaign.Cooper has been accepted into law school this fall at University of Florida where he will begin earning his juris doctor.

Vernon DeSear, vice president of marketing and business development for the Manatee Health Care System (MHS) and executive director of Manatee Memorial Hospital Foundation, will be the recipient of the President's Award of Distinction. This year marks the first time the college has presented the award, which honors an individual who has supported the community and MCC and its mission. DeSear has shown commitment to education and health needs in the community through his service to several associations including the American Cancer Society, United Cerebral Palsy, American Heart Association, Gulf Coast Lung Association, the Wellness Community of Southwest Florida, Bradenton Christian School and Manatee Education Foundation.

The Outstanding Graduate Award, another new honor, will be presented to a student who has shown superior leadership, academic achievement and community service while attending MCC. The nominees are Stephanie Cole, Hilary English, Susan Mergens, Dat Vu and Jami Worley.

Other program participants include MCC President Dr. Lars A. Hafner; Steve Harner, chair, MCC district board of trustees; Dr. Mike Mears, interim vice president of academic affairs; Dr. Jack Crocker, vice president of academic quality and success; Donald Hall, professor, natural science, mace bearer; Mary Felt, instructor, language and literature; Dr. Joni Pirnot, associate professor, mathematics; MCC Bradenton Student Government Association (SGA) President Robyn Draper; MCC Venice SGA President Stephanie Cole; and Rev. Dr. James Williamson, chaplain, Campus Ministries. The National Anthem will be sung by the MCC Chamber Choir conducted by Melodie Dickerson.

Tickets are required and are available through graduating students. Maps and directions are online at

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