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College President Dr. DeRionne Pollard to Deliver Commencement Address

Montgomery College will recognize the members of the class of 2017 in commencement ceremonies May 19 at 10 a.m. on the Rockville Campus. Students from the College’s three campuses in Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park/Silver Spring and Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs, along with three honorary degree recipients, will be honored.

Of the nearly 3,000 graduates, four outstanding students will be recognized for their academic achievements during the ceremony:

Mr. Douglas W. Lindahl Sr. is completing a four-year apprenticeship program as an HVAC technician. He is graduating with a 3.82 grade point average. He is enrolled in the Association of Air Conditioning Professionals apprenticeship-related instruction program. He works for Mallick Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

Mr. Austin H. Wickham, a business administration major and member of Phi Theta Kappa, is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. He is a member of the Macklin Business Institute. Wickham earned the Germantown Campus Business Administration Award and the Student Employee of the Year Award. Mr. Wickham was the second vice president for the Student Senate. He plans to transfer to a top undergraduate business school to double major in accounting and finance.

Ms. Tatiana I. Méndez, an international studies major and member of Phi Theta Kappa, is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. Born and raised in Colombia, Ms. Méndez came to the United States in 2009. She received the Academic Excellence Award in Elementary Portuguese II. Ms. Méndez worked tirelessly for animal rights, immigrant rights, farm worker rights, and Latin American issues. She founded and led the Brazil Club and the MC Voice for Animals Club. She currently manages the Central American Minors Program at the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring. She will pursue a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of Maryland.

Ms. Kevin Birungi, a general studies STEM major and member of Phi Theta Kappa, is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. She moved to the United States from Uganda in September 2013. She has served in a number of student leadership roles, including vice president of the Inter-Club Council, officer of the Math Club, and member of Ambassadors for Christ. An active member of the honors community, she presented her research at the  the 2016 Maryland Collegiate Honors Council Conference and the 2016 Beacon Conference, where she won the Allied Health and Nursing Panel. Ms. Birungi also earned the Bernice Pierson Award for biology student of the year for her work as a tutor in biology and chemistry. She plans to transfer to Dickinson College, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology.

In addition, the Board of Trustees will pay tribute to community leaders and College benefactors. Honorary degrees will be presented to Mr. Kenneth Becker Co-owner, Rakusin & Becker Management, Inc., Ms. Audrey Hill Professor Emerita, Montgomery College, and Mr. James Muir Vice President, Hughes Network Systems.

Mr. Kenneth Becker has been actively involved in real estate finance, development, marketing, and management in the Washington area for more than 45 years. He is co-owner of Rakusin & Becker Management, Inc., a property management firm in Bethesda, and a partner and principal in various multifamily and commercial properties in Bethesda, Rockville, and Northern Virginia.

Mr. Becker is an active volunteer in the community. He is on the Board of Directors for the Charles E. Smith Life Center. In 2005, the Montgomery College Foundation appointed Mr. Becker to its Board of Directors, enabling him to complete the term of his late father, Arthur. He has played an active role on the Real Estate Committee throughout his tenure. He graciously accepted the role of board chair in June 2016, having previously served as vice chair. He served for 17 years on the Housing Loan Review Committee, the Housing Assistance Advisory Committee, and the Housing and Community Development Advisory Committee of Montgomery County. For 34 years he has been an officer, board member, and architectural review committee chair of his homeowners’ association.

Ms. Audrey T. Hill is a professor emerita and college transfer counselor who retired in 2014 after 11 years at Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus. Ms. Hill was a founding member of the College’s Transfer Scholarship Committee and helped thousands of students seamlessly transfer to colleges and universities.

Ms. Hill was the first community college counselor appointed to the Board of Directors of the Common Application, Inc.

Prior to her career at Montgomery College, Ms. Hill worked as a teacher and secondary school counselor for Montgomery County Public Schools, where she was recognized as counselor of the year.

Ms. Hill is the past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling (PCACAC), where she is still a member. In 2003, she won a national election to the Guidance and Admission Assembly Council of the College Board.

Ms. Hill received the Richard Apperson Award from the PCACAC, the Margaret Addis Excellence in Education Award from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the Gayle C. Wilson Award from NACAC, and the Bernard P. Ireland Award from the Middle States Region of the College Board. At Montgomery College, she received an Outstanding Faculty Award and a Silver Medallion recognizing her distinguished service.

Mr. James G Muir III is vice president at Hughes Network Systems, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation. He has 40 years of experience in real estate, facilities management, security, safety and administration.

Mr. Muir is an active member of the Montgomery County community. He currently serves on a number of local boards, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. He has been past chair and chair emeritus of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, vice chair of the Pinkney Innovation Complex of Montgomery College, and past board member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Muir was instrumental in starting the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce Montgomery College Scholarship Committee and the creation of an endowment. He was inducted into the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber Hall of Fame in 2009.

Families and friends of the graduates in Montgomery County can watch the commencement ceremony live on Montgomery College Television, cable channel 10. The ceremony will also be available afterward on YouTube at . For more information about commencement, visit

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