VINELAND — Anyone who doubted Cumberland County College’s Class of 2017 was the largest ever only had to look at the overflow of cars parked along the shoulder of College Drive as family members poured onto campus to watch the graduates receive their diplomas.
“You make us proud,” President Yves Salomon-Fernandez said as she reminded graduates of the goals they had set and the hurdles they overcame to reach them.
Student speaker Jennifer Negron, the first in her family to get a college degree, credited the state Education Opportunity Fund program and staff for supporting her and teaching her to become a leader.
“Our legacy does not end here,” she told the graduates. “Let us get our bachelor’s, master’s and maybe even doctoral degrees.”
Guest speaker Floyd Barnett III, a Bridgeton High School and Cumberland County College graduate who is senior manager of business operations for Sunguard Availability Services, told students he almost didn’t make it to college at all.
After a cousin was a victim of gun violence, Barnett, then 17, became depressed and started to wonder if college was worth the effort when he, too, could die young.
“It had a tremendous impact on how I viewed the world,” he said. “I was slowly eroding inside.”
His father finally convinced him that should he be blessed with longevity, his life and his future family’s lives would be better if he went to college. He went on to get a degree in mechanical engineering from Temple University, then an MBA from Georgian Court University. He encouraged the graduates to heed the advice of his father.