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Alumni Success Stories
[BACK to 40th Anniversary opening page]

  • Anne Lumberger ('01)
  • Bliss McClister, M.D., and fiance Albert Lang
  • Dave Pasquito ('83)
  • Bill Plank ('77)
  • Dan Posluszny, Jr. ('84)
  •   MCCC 40th Anniversary
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    Anne Lumberger ('01): Alum and Instructor is "Chef of the Year"
    updated from Summer 2004 Viking alumni newsletter

    In what could be called the "icing on the cake," Anne Lumberger was selected "Chef of the Year" for 2004 by the American Culinary Federation Professional Chefs Guild of Central New Jersey in recognition of her numerous volunteer activities in the culinary field. Lumberger is a volunteer for Eden Institute, a Princeton based center for children and adults with autism. She plans menus and helps with cooking for Eden's summer camp program in Connecticut, and participates in fundraising events.

    She has served as a judge for high school cooking competitions at the Sypeck Center (Mercer County Technical School) and been an active volunteer in "Childhood Hunger Day," an annual Chefs Guild event held annually at Sovereign Bank Arena to teach inner city children about nutrition. The theme, said Lumberger, was: "We don't need to supersize. We just need to exercise!"

    In 1996, as she approached retirement after 28 years at AT&T, she began taking cooking classes at Mercer. By 2001 she had earned certificates in professional cooking and professional baking. Lumberger began teaching "Professional Baking" at Mercer in 2004. "My students are very receptive," she said. "They are eager to learn. There is a nice energy in the classroom."

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    Bliss McClister, M.D., and Fiance Albert Lang
    Thank Mercer for a Good Start

    from Winter 2003 Viking alumni newsletter

    When Bliss McClister started at Mercer in 1981, she had never planned to attend college and hadn't even taken the SATs in high school. "I had been working full-time for a veterinarian since high school graduation and had grown up on a dairy farm, where education was not stressed," she recalled.

    It was the veterinarian who convinced Bliss that she had a good mind and could succeed in school. And so she began her educational journey, starting out at Mercer at the age of 26 by taking basic math and English classes. Her academic potential quickly became apparent as she pursued courses in the sciences under the tutelage of professors Carlo Alfare, Bruce Chorba, Ron Slezak and Naomi Rose.

    "I enjoyed everything about Mercer," said McClister, "from its affordability and close proximity to the easy accessibility of the staff and faculty. I found the faculty overwhelmingly supportive in helping me achieve my goals." McClister had more than college on her plate at the time, juggling her energies between schoolwork and the demands of raising four children.

    During her Mercer years McClister began to formulate the ambitious plan of becoming a doctor. Graduating from Mercer with high honors in 1991 and bolstered by awards in chemistry and letters of recommendation from her Mercer mentors, Bliss received a scholarship to continue her education at Rider University. She graduated from Rider in 1994 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Five years later, in 1999, she earned her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed a three-year residency in emergency medicine at Morristown Memorial Hospital in June, 2002.

    Since June, McClister has worked at Capital Health Systems in Trenton. She took her medical boards in October. On a typical shift at the hospital, she'll treat everything from ear infections and sore throats to congestive heart failure and cardiac arrests. "I love the variety, the team atmosphere among the physicians, nurses and technicians, and the ability to have an instant impact on a patient's condition," said McClister. "I need and enjoy the pace of emergency medicine."

    McClister sees Mercer as a pivotal experience in her life. "When I graduated from MCCC at the age of 31, it was one of my biggest accomplishments up to that time. I remember having goose bumps when the ceremony began. I realized I had worked very hard to earn this degree as a mother of four children. It was the first major stepping stone to obtaining my goal," she said.

    "Though the majority of my colleagues graduated from big-name, four-year schools, I never felt as a non-traditional student that I was any less prepared or deserving of my medical degree. If anything, some life experience and having to put myself through school has made me appreciate my education and my job even more."

    McClister is engaged to Albert Lang, manager of Chemsampco Inc. in Trenton, a company that specializes in fine organic chemicals. Lang also studied the sciences at Mercer, completing his B.S. degree at Rider in 1993. "I chose Mercer for its proximity to home, its attractive campus and its excellent reputation for transferring to a four-year school," he said.

    Lang was intent on earning his degree in chemistry, but was working full-time. "At that time, my primary responsibility was my job. The faculty was very flexible in accommodating my needs as a part-time student. I was very happy with the college. My best memories are of the many great people I met at Mercer, both students and faculty."

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    Dave Pasquito ('83): Soccer Alum Initiates Fund-Raising Effort
    updated from Summer 2003 Viking alumni newsletter

    Winning a national soccer championship is an experience you never forget, says Mercer alumnus Dave Pasquito of Lawrence Township. His moment came before a hometown crowd in November, 1982, when the Vikings won their third national title by defeating Lewis and Clark College 1-0.

    "It was a great feeling - of joy and relief - and an experience I savored for months, even years after. It stays with me to this day," said Pasquito. The Vikings have won a total of eight championships - in 1963, 1968, 1982, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1996 and 2004. They came in second in the nation in 2002 and 2003.

    Pasquito, a forward who led the Vikings in scoring during the 1982 season and scored two goals in the semi-final game against Ulster, NY, was awarded a soccer scholarship to the University of Maryland. He continued to play soccer while earning a bachelor's degree in business.

    "I chose to attend Mercer over several other schools and it was a decision I never regretted," Pasquito said. "Mercer prepared me academically for my transfer to Maryland and athletically for further challenges on the soccer field. My participation in Mercer soccer also taught me life lessons that have served me well - about playing hard but fairly, and about the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship."

    Pasquito returned to New Jersey after college and began a successful career in sales. Currently he is an account manager with Emtec, a full-service information technology company with five locations on the East Coast. Continuing to play soccer in his spare time, he met up with Mercer Head Coach Charlie Inverso. The two of them began to put their heads together.

    "We talked about the strength of the Mercer soccer program and the things that could make it even better. I decided I wanted to help. I feel that Mercer gave me a great start and it was time to give something back."

    Pasquito has initiated a fund-raising campaign in conjunction with the MCCC Foundation to support the Mercer soccer program. Some of the funds generated will be used to provide important finishing touches to the college's new state-of-the-art playing field. Other monies will be donated to uniforms and travel expenses.

    Notes Pasquito, "Mercer is known throughout the country as a soccer powerhouse. It's a terrific resource for players from the region who want to play soccer for a top school and get a solid foundation academically. Mercer has made a difference for so many people. It deserves our support."

    In addition to their eight national championships, the Vikings have won 36 regional titles. Their record of accomplishment has made Mercer the most successful team in the history of community college soccer. In the past 18 years, more than 100 Mercer players have continued their education at four-year colleges, about half with athletic scholarships. Ninety percent of these players have either graduated or are on track to graduate.

    Donors will be awarded special gifts of appreciation. To learn more about how you can support Mercer soccer, call MCCC Dean of College Advancement Beverly Richardson at (609) 586-4800, ext. 3661.

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    Bill Plank ('77): Art Teacher Gets Inspired Start at Mercer
    updated from Winter 2002 Viking alumni newsletter

    As an art teacher at Hightstown High School, Bill Plank knows that not every student is a born artist. But even students for whom art is not a natural gift come to learn that creating artwork can be a satisfying process. "I try to teach patience in addition to technique," said Plank. "A lot of students are surprised at how much they like the creative process. Many are used to the quick results they get with computers. I tell them it takes time to learn to draw and to develop technique."

    Plank's students have the advantage of learning from a professional artist who often brings samples of his own work into the classroom. "I'll bring in my work at different stages of completion," explained Plank. "A painting takes time to come together. When they see my work, there's more chance that they'll focus and be productive."

    Plank's own education was focused on the arts from the outset. Painting and drawing were consuming interests for Plank in high school, although he received little in the way of formal instruction. Pursuing an art education at Mercer was the next natural step. "Mercer's art department had a good reputation. It worked out really well for me," he said. Plank took practically every art course available, graduating from the Visual Arts program with honors in 1977.

    "The atmosphere at Mercer was great," he recalled. "There was a real sense of community in the art classes." He met students of many ages and artistic backgrounds. He also met his wife Helene, who graduated from the Visual Arts program at the same time and currently works at Mercer as a financial aid administrator.

    While he was Mercer, Plank also started thinking in practical terms about making a living. "I decided to check out the idea of teaching. I figured if I could do this work, why not teach it? I was easily able to transfer to Trenton State College [now The College of New Jersey]. All my credits were accepted." Plank graduated in 1979 with a B.A. in Art Education.

    "I tell students and parents, 'If you're not sure what you want to do, Mercer is a great place to explore your options.' There is an excellent staff and you have a chance to try out different areas. What you put into it is what you get out," Plank said.

    Following three years in the Ewing School system, Plank found a home at Hightstown High School, where he has been an art instructor since 1985. He teaches every art course in the curriculum - illustration, painting, commercial art and art history. Plank notes that his art history class is modeled on what he learned in a course taught by Prof. Mel Leipzig at Mercer. At one point, they even shared Plank's high school classroom. "Mel was teaching an adult education class in art history at night and I was teaching there during the day."

    Teaching the arts presents an interesting set of challenges, says Plank. "To bring out students' potential, I expose them to different techniques and painting mediums. They usually find some technique or approach they're successful at. I encourage them along those lines, keying in on positive aspects of what they're creating," said Plank. He stresses that even with all the art that is now done on computers, it is still necessary to understand the basics of composition.

    "It's great when students come back and visit," he said. "With teaching day to day, sometimes you get the feeling that it's just another day. And then a student comes in who tells you how you've helped him. It's nice to hear success stories."

    Plank is especially proud of one student who chose the same road he did. "A former student of mine decided to go into art education and is presently teaching art at the middle school here in East Windsor," said Plank.

    Plank has exhibited extensively in the area, in both group and one-man shows. He is the recipient of a purchase award from the Mercer County Culture and Heritage Commission and numerous other awards. Plank's work has appeared in The Kelsey Review every year since 1992. His work has reflected a number of themes, including scenes from the 1960s and 1970s, the southwest, and most recently, medieval times.

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    Dan Posluszny, Jr. ('84): Alum Committed to Education and Community Service
    from Spring 2000 Viking alumni newsletter

    If you live in Lawrence Township, consider yourself a lucky citizen. Dan Posluszny, Jr., was sworn in last March (1999) as the township's new police captain. A Lawrence native who has served on the force for 14 years, Posluszny is a police officer who believes that self development is the best road to community development.

    Starting at Mercer County Community College in 1982 fresh out of high school, Posluszny's ambitions were still unformed. He decided to study business. "I figured it would be good background for whatever I did later. Then I got friendly with a lot of people who were going into law enforcement, which steered me in that direction."

    When he transferred to The College of New Jersey two years later, he knew that he wanted to study criminal justice. Joining the police force in Lawrence Township, he continued his education part-time, graduating from TCNJ in December 1993 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Next came a masters degree from Seton Hall University in 1996. Posluszny is pursuing his doctoral degree at Seton Hall through the New Jersey Police Study Project, which provides reduced rate tuition for police officers pursuing graduate degrees.

    As police captain, Posluszny is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the entire force, which includes 50 sworn officers and 9 civilian employees. He is working to expand the township's community policing program and notes with satisfaction the positive interactions the force has had with local civic associations.

    "A representative from the police force attends the monthly meetings of the township's civic organizations in order to add input and help them solve problems. It's something that police officers don't usually have a chance to do and it's been very well received." He is also a champion of youth programs, considering them one of the police department's most important areas of influence. "If it's doable, we do it," he said.

    His thoughts on Mercer? "To this day, it was one of the best schools I have attended," said Posluszny. "I've encouraged a lot of people to go there or to send their kids there, especially if they're not sure what they want to do. I remember certain courses -- economics, accounting -- as some of the most challenging I've taken. The professors were friendly and always available to help. It was a competitive environment and good preparation for the future.

    "Mercer really helped me focus on what I wanted to do. It's a good place to get yourself going. Eventually I'd like to come back to Mercer as an adjunct facuty member."

    But for now, Posluszny has a pretty full plate. He recently returned from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where he attended an 11-week "Executive Leadership School" with 270 students from around the world. "It was good for my development and for my community," he said.

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