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Brookdale 2018 Graduation
May 11, 2018

Brookdale Holds 48th Annual Commencement and Recognizes Honorees

Brookdale 2018 Graduation

Brookdale Community College honored  six outstanding local residents and more than 2,000 local students during the college’s 48th annual commencement, held May 10 on the Lincroft campus. A total of 1,985 students were expected to graduate from Brookdale this year, with diplomas handed out during ceremonies at the Robert J. Collins Arena. The graduating class earned more than 2,000 total degrees and included 42 students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

For the first time, Brookdale’s graduating class also included local high school seniors who earned associate degrees through the college’s Early College High School partnerships. Nineteen Neptune High School seniors and nine St. John Vianney High School students received Brookdale associate degrees, weeks before they graduate from high school.

Honorary degrees were presented to Robert and Joan Rechnitz, founders of the nonprofit Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, restaurateur and community activist Marilyn Schlossbach, and Carol Stillwell, president and CEO of Stillwell Hansen, Inc. Distinguished alumni awards were presented to Collen Lyons, chief information officer for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and Doris Hudak, trustee emeritus for the Brookdale Alumni Association. Select graduates were also presented with the college’s 2017-18 Outstanding Student Award.

In addition to their support of local arts and education programs through the Two River Theater, Bob and Joan Rechnitz serve as active philanthropists in the Monmouth County community. Their unprecedented $1 million donation to the Brookdale Foundation in 2014 enabled the launch of the Poseidon Early College High School program in Neptune, which allows eligible local students to earn associate degrees by the time they graduate from high school. The first cohort of Poseidon students graduated from the program this May.

Marilyn Schlossbach is an executive chef, restaurateur, and entrepreneur who founded and manages the Marilyn Schlossbach Group, which manages restaurant and retail environments across the Jersey Shore. She is also an environmentalist, community activist, traveler, and surfer, whose volunteer efforts have included collaborating with Interfaith Neighbors on the Kula Café hospitality training program, providing gardening and surf lessons through the Boys and Girls Club of Asbury Park, and offering support to local nonprofit organizations such as Clean Ocean Action.

Carol Stillwell, of Holmdel, is president of Stillwell Hansen, Inc., an award-winning equipment distribution company based in Edison. An acclaimed advocate for female representation in traditionally male-dominated industries, shel has been recognized as one of New Jersey’s top businesswomen four times in the last ten years. She is also a dedicated philanthropist, working to support local and national organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Association, Monmouth Medical Center, the Community YMCA, the Ashley Lauren Foundation, and the Brookdale Community College Foundation.

Colleen M. Lyons serves as chief information officer for Lenox Hill Hospital, Lenox Health Greenwich Village, and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, and all New York City-based members of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Prior to joining North Shore-LIJ, she served as corporate director of information services at Continuum Health Partners, Inc. She earned an associate degree in computer science from Brookdale in 1980.

Doris Hudak came to Brookdale later in life, balancing parenthood while earning an associate degree in human services, which she received in 1983. She returned to work for the college as a cooperative education coordinator, and later served for more than 20 years with the Brookdale Community College Alumni Association. She received the college’s prestigious Barringer Award in 2009. She also designed a bereavement program for area funeral directors, which became the official manual of the Diocese of Trenton. She was honored by Bishop John M. Smith for her service on the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved.