Union College celebrates 700 graduates at winter commencement

CRANFORD, NJ — Union College of Union County celebrated its winter commencement on Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway. Two ceremonies were held for Union’s newest graduates who received their degrees and certificates. The graduates completed their degrees in either August or December 2022. This commencement was Union College’s first in-person winter commencement since January 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Union College President Margaret M. McMenamin served as the master of ceremonies and welcomed graduates and attendees to the celebration. Each ceremony included a student speaker who was selected to speak to their class. The student speakers were Wakila Timmons, of Elizabeth, and Amir Abdelmalak, of Scotch Plains.
Two awards were presented to the students with the best grade-point average at each ceremony. The Alumni Prize was presented to Brian Laura Zegarra, of Elizabeth, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and Amir Abedelmalak, who graduated with a 3.914 GPA.

Joceline Guerra Osorio and Shaneka Baker, both from Elizabeth, received the Abdallah-Thomas Memorial Award. The Abdallah-Thomas Memorial Award, which was established in memory of Ibtissam Ahmed Abdallah and Marquest S. Thomas, is awarded to two graduating students who have at least a 3.25 GPA, have participated in college life through service in college activities and/or sports and have completed community service. Osorio graduated with a 3.941 GPA and Baker graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

“We are especially proud of the Class of 2023 for their accomplishments given that they began their college careers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” McMenamin said. “They faced unique challenges and their ability to persevere and remain focused on their goals will serve them well.”

Photo Courtesy of Margaret M. Ortuso