Graduation Spotlights

We Can’t Wait to See Where Atlantic Cape Will Take You!

Congratulations to the Class of 2022. We at Atlantic Cape are so proud of all our graduates. Whether they are starting their first job, making a transition to a dream career, or continuing their education, our graduates have overcome challenges to reach the same goal: a college degree. From here, they will go onward to be the leaders that our community needs. We know that Atlantic Cape alumni are ready to be part of the solution. Here are a few impressive stories from some of our recent graduates. We hope their stories will inspire others and find out where Atlantic Cape can take them.

Associate in Science, Biomedical Science (High Honors)

Sayali Patil

Sayali Patil

Sayali Patil immigrated to the United States after graduating high school in 2017.

Five years later, she is finally on her way to medical school. Her next stop is Rutgers University where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“I chose Atlantic Cape because I came to the U.S. in 2018 and I was very new to everything. I wanted to go to medical school, but did not have a clear path. My uncle suggested for me to start from Atlantic Cape Community College since it has less tuition fees and also offers good education and will give me one-on-one experience with teachers,” Sayali said. “Atlantic Cape provided me with various grants and scholarships and, to this day, I don’t remember worrying about my academic fees while studying here.”

Sayali said her biggest challenge in getting through her education in the United States was learning how the system works.

“I did not know how grading works or how to register for my classes or where to transfer once I complete my A.S. degree. I learned a lot of things by staying at Atlantic Cape and it also helped me financially because my mom is a single parent.”

Sayali is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She thanked all of her professors who helped her with her studies and motivated her to be better, as well as Atlantic Cape.

“I wouldn’t be here today without Atlantic Cape's support,” she said. “To start my journey from Atlantic Cape is surely the best decision I made and it will always be a very important phase of my life.”

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing

Gwendeline Perez

Gwendeline Perez

Gwendeline Perez is on her way to becoming a registered nurse, but this is not her first go-round at obtaining her degree.

Gwendeline graduated from Absegami High School in 2005 and enrolled in Atlantic Cape that fall, wanting to stay close to home as she had just learned she was pregnant.

During that time, she applied for the college’s nursing program, but was put on the waitlist.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to go to the next best thing,’” she explained. So Gwendeline enrolled in another school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, although she held onto her plans to return to Atlantic Cape.

“In the process, I’ve had four beautiful daughters,” she said.

For the last 10 years, Gwendeline has been working as a pediatric nurse for Bayada, and at the AtlantiCare Health Plex in Atlantic City while raising her family.

In 2019, when her youngest child was old enough to enroll in school, Gwendeline returned to Atlantic Cape where she is slowly working toward the next step in the career she has always dreamed of.

In 2020, she earned her associate’s degree in Health Science and is now graduating with her RN.

Gwendeline said her nursing career is inspired by her mother, who she described as the “go-to” person in her family for help.

 “I just love to put a smile on somebody’s face,” she said. “If you’re sick, if you’re sad, if you're down, I try to bring a positive out of whatever negative situation. I just love to help.”

Associate in Science, Human Services

Lasheenah Wyatt

Lasheenah Wyatt

For Lasheenah Wyatt, earning her degree is just the beginning.

At 30, she is graduating with her associate’s degree and plans to continue her education at Stockton University.

“Hopefully, I can get a better job, but I left with more knowledge than I ever had prior to getting a college education,” Lasheenah said.

Lasheenah was part of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program at Atlantic Cape and thanked her mentors in the program, including former director Aigner Holmes and Counselor Najah Jones, for helping to drive her. She also thanked Professor Donna McElroy.

“My quote to anyone of any age or ethnicity is: ‘You can do anything you want in life; just stick to it,’” Lasheenah said.

Associate in Arts, Communication

Aylin Alvarez

Aylin AlvarezUpon graduation, Aylin Alvarez will be attending Montclair State University for a bachelor’s degree in Film and TV.

“I am a first-generation student so this means a lot to me. I had to figure out stuff by myself. I work a lot and knowing I'm graduating makes everything worth it. Graduating is one step closer to working on a film set,” Aylin said. 

Aylin became interested in film while attending film camp in her hometown of Cape May when she was in fifth grade. After graduating high school, she enrolled in Atlantic Cape with plans to pursue a career in the film industry as a way to amplify diverse voices, including hers.

“I think it was the lack of representation that really inspired me more than actually seeing movies,” Aylin said. 

She said that her professors like Keith Forrest and her friends have been great supporters for her in both her professional and personal goals.

“Last year, I won the Communication Major of the Year and because of that, I made amazing memories and amazing friends. I became a leader, a mentor, and somebody that people can lean on. I continued to grow in the communication program, encourage others, and help achieve success for those who ask for help,” Aylin said.

She said that she owes most of her success to her parents and grandparents, who pushed her even when she didn’t want to continue her studies.

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing (Honors)

Patrick Butler

patrick butler

After working in a hospital and realizing he wanted to become a nurse, Patrick Butler joined the Army National Guard to help pay for his education.

Now, as he earns his associate’s degree, Butler plans to start working at AtlantiCare and continue his commission as an officer in the National Guard, now as a Registered Nurse. Patrick said he will also pursue his Bachelor's in Nursing.

“Professor DeLong and Professor DaGrosa were motivating, caring, and insightful. Having worked with Professor DeLong gave me familiarity and comfort within the program as well and Professor DaGrosa was a great teacher and helpful outside of the classroom in many ways,” Patrick said.

He said graduating this year means that his years of hard work have paid off and success is possible.

“It is a huge moment in my life and I will be grateful for my time at Atlantic Cape and that I’ve been here through a trying time in my life,” Patrick said.

Associate in Science, Business Administration

Heleena Hendricks

Heleena Hendricks

At 17 years old, Heleena Hendricks enrolled at Atlantic Cape as a culinary student after being released from juvenile detention. But her stay at the college didn’t last long. As she puts it, “life got in the way.” She dropped out of school and soon had a daughter.

In the meantime, she began working, starting her own businesses along the way.

At 25, Heleena re-enrolled as a business major. “I wanted to own a business and not be counted in the statistics of businesses that fail within the first five years,” she said.

Helena said her biggest challenge during her schooling was dealing with ongoing health issues.

“It got in my way every chance and direction it could: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Life was the obstacle course, education was the knotted ropes and tools that helped you get through it,” Heleena said.

Thirteen years after re-enrolling, Heleena has overcome obstacle after obstacle and will now earn her degree. Recently, she was named the recipient of several Center for Student Success awards including the Juan Alvarez Award and the Center for Accessibility Director’s Award. 

She credits God and her own organization and communication skills in helping her achieve her goals.

Associate in Science, General Studies (Highest Honors)

Justin Lorenzo Tresvalles

Justin Lorenzo Tresvalles

Justin Lorenzo Tresvalles chose Atlantic Cape Community College because it was affordable and close to home. What he has gotten out of his experience here has been so much more.

“Atlantic Cape has helped me a lot when it comes to both academics and sports. By being able to go to this college, I was able to receive more awards and recognitions than I ever thought I could,” Justine said. “I was also able to join the Archery team here and earn second place in the Indoor Nationals at Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”

Justin will transfer to Rutgers University next year to double major in computer science and economics. At Atlantic Cape, in addition to Archery, he was part of the Honors program, Asian Cultural Club, Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“I would like to thank Professor Rich Russell and Professor Madeline Barrows for making class really fun, exciting and engaging. They both are the best professors I've had in college and motivated me to do well in their class,” Justin said.

Associate in Applied Science, Culinary Arts (High Honors)

Steven Glassoff

Steven Glassoff

When the world shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Steven Glassoff was working in a kitchen on a cruise ship.

“After high school I went right into the workforce, but still always knew I wanted to continue my education at some point,” said Steven, who graduated from Ocean County Vocational Technical School where he studied culinary arts.

The pandemic forced Steven to jumpstart his other plans. When he arrived home from his last trip after being laid off, Steven enrolled at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts.

“I was just always in the kitchen since I was young,” he explained. “I probably started taking over making dinners during the week in middle school.”

Throughout high school, Steven struggled with a learning disability that made it hard for him to focus. Coming to college, he was concerned he would face the same difficulties.

“Atlantic Cape has helped every step of the way to make sure I know what resources are available and have helped make any necessary accommodations,” Steven said. “I still struggle, but I know how I need to learn.”

Steven hopes to one day own his own restaurant and gourmet food market.

Associate in Arts, Liberal Arts/English option (Highest Honors)

Megan Kazier

Megan Kazier

Megan Kazier had always dreamed of earning her degree, but wasn't sure it was financially feasible to be a full-time student. Now, she is graduating with a 4.0 GPA, Highest Honors, and as vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“Other than pursuing a degree during a pandemic, I would say the biggest challenge for me was believing it was not too late,” Megan said.

Megan enrolled at Atlantic Cape Community College part-time in 2019, but was able to speed up her pace with the help of several scholarships: OceanFirst Bank, Richard Benner, James Boyd and Shelby Leigh Griffith scholarships. 

Currently, Megan works as a logistics coordinator for a freight company, a full-time position she has maintained throughout her tenure at Atlantic Cape.

She graduated from high school in South Carolina in 2010 and, because no one in her family had gone to college, she felt she didn’t have the support or resources at the time to pursue higher education.

“Atlantic Cape not only provided a flexible and affordable path for me to earn my associate’s degree, I was provided with the opportunity to excel and thrive along the way. Atlantic Cape helped me discover that while I might have originally planned and anticipated an associate’s degree being the end of my educational journey, it's only just the beginning.”

In addition to PTK, Megan was a contributing editor for Rewrites Literary Magazine in 2020 and 2021, and also served as secretary in 2022. She was on the 2022 New Jersey All-State Academic Team, a Sigma Delta Kappa Honor Society member, a writing tutor in the Mays Landing library, earned President’s List in Spring 2021, earned perfect attendance in Fall 2019, and won second place in Photography for 2021 NJALL Adult Learner Writing Contest.

Megan credited her husband and the entire English department at Atlantic Cape -  especially, Professors Stephanie Natale-Boianelli, Effie and Rich Russell - for their support and encouragement during her time here. 

“I am forever grateful for the time and energy each of you have invested in me and I promise to not let it go to waste,” Megan said. “Graduating from Atlantic Cape gave me the courage to apply to Ivy leagues schools, and the confidence to know that I do actually have a chance at being accepted.”

Associates in  Science, Human Services

Andres Figueroa Jr.

Andres Figueroa Jr.

After graduating from Atlantic Cape this spring, Andres Figueroa is headed to Stockton University where he will work toward earning his bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

However, his journey to this point has not been without challenges. Andres underwent open heart surgery in the last two months of his spring semester.

“After I left the hospital, I completed my semester with high scores while in recovery,” Andres explained. 

He credits his success to his professors and his family - at work and home. 

“When it got tough medically or (if I was) stressing out about work and school, they stuck with me and encouraged me to push forward,” he said.

Now, at 42, he is the first of his family to graduate college. Andres is excited to begin a career where he can be the voice for those who never be listened to or exploited.

“Keep going, never stop!” Andres said.