Dr. Ralph Semmel of JHU Applied Physics Laboratory to Receive Honorary Degree and Deliver Commencement Address at Howard Community College
Columbia, MD – Howard Community College will honor its 2019 graduating class of students at the 48th annual commencement ceremony on May 24. Currently, there are 1,332 candidates who are anticipated to earn 1,479 degrees and certificates. With more than 500 graduating students expected to attend, the ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Event Center.
The Howard Community College Board of Trustees has selected Dr. Ralph Semmel, director of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, as the recipient of an honorary associate of arts degree. Dr. Semmel, who has served in his role since July 2010, will also deliver the commencement address to students.
As director, Dr. Semmel leads the nation’s largest university affiliated research center, which performs research and development on behalf of the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, NASA, and other federal agencies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, master’s degrees from the University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in computer science from UMBC.
Student Steven Hollies will deliver the graduate address. A 2010 high school graduate, Hollies worked a number of jobs before deciding to return to college. Upon learning of the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program, he successfully took nine exams at the Howard Community College Test Center to earn 30 college credits toward his associate degree. After a positive experience with faculty and staff on campus, Hollies enrolled full time to explore his passion for English literature and creative writing.
“What I like best about Howard Community College is the quality of the people; that is what drew me to the college in the first place. Everyone I met and talked to – from the test center staff to faculty to cafeteria staff to academic advisors to department chairs – was amazing,” recalled Hollies. “There just seems to be a genuine culture of goodness. Everyone is grounded and caring and wants to do their job well.”
While a student, Hollies received recognition on the Dean’s List, joined Phi Theta Kappa, an international honors society for community college students, and was honored as the TRIO Student Support Services’ First-Year Student of the Year and the English and World Languages Division’s Outstanding Student. He also was a member of the Kind Gestures Club and Mixed Martial Arts Club.
Through scholarship support from the Howard Community College Educational Foundation, Hollies will travel to Ireland in June as part of the college’s History of Ireland study abroad program. Later this summer, Hollies will move to Wales (United Kingdom) to attend Aberystwyth University and earn his baccalaureate degree in creative writing.
Another student-focused highlight during the ceremony is the presentation of $1,000 awards for academic excellence to Julianna Henneberg and Eli Vogel, who will be graduating with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. The Howard Community College Educational Foundation provides the awards to assist these graduating students with the costs of further education. Henneberg plans to transfer to a four-year university to study art therapy. Vogel will study physics at UMBC.
As part of the week’s commencement festivities, the college will hold a nursing recognition and pinning ceremony, as well as an allied health student pinning ceremony, on May 22 at the BWI Marriott to honor all graduating students in the nursing and allied health programs.
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