College Goes Green at 2011 Fall Commencement

October 15, 2011

Fall 2011 Class

Fall 2011 Class

TRENTON. N.J. - Thomas Edison State College is going green at its 2011 Fall Commencement on Saturday, Oct. 15 in Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, where graduates accepted their diplomas wearing gowns made from recycled plastic bottles.

Approximately 313 graduates from 16 states, including California and Hawaii, attended the Fall 2011 Commencement ceremony.

This year marks the second year that Thomas Edison State College graduates wore gowns made from recycled plastic bottles and the first year where graduates had the opportunity to recycle their gowns after the ceremony so the gowns can be recycled into other products. Each gown is made from approximately 23 bottles. Since 2010, approximately 950 graduates have worn gowns made from recycled plastic bottles, which has kept more than 21,800 plastic bottles from landfills and oceans.

Caryne R. Adams, of Carteret, N.J., delivered the response for graduates. Adams, who had a 3.8 grade point average while earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, is a legal assistant in the New York office of Jones Day, one of the world’s largest international law firms. Adams is also a member of the New Jersey Collegiate Business Administration Association Honor Society, which honors business students in New Jersey that rank in the top one percent of their class.

She told her fellow graduates to stay committed to being life-long learners, despite the challenging economic conditions.

"The successful person is one that faces challenges, and learns a life lesson from each and every gain and loss. The truly successful person is one who is interested in self-improvement and to that which will help us to evolve," said Adams. "That is what Thomas Edison has taught us. It taught us to grow, to be more of ourselves, to move to the next level of understanding and compassion. Inner wisdom is more precious than wealth – the more you spend it the more you gain."

The college also awarded two honorary degrees during the ceremony:

  • John L. McGoldrick, chairman of Zimmer Holdings, Inc., a worldwide leader in orthopedic reconstructive products, and special advisor to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a global nonprofit corporation devoted to finding a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS, where he was previously senior vice president. McGoldrick had previously as executive vice president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, president of its Medical Devices Group, vice chair of its Executive Committee and general counsel for global policy, government affairs and philanthropy. He also served as a senior partner with McCarter & English.
  • Ida B. Hammond, ’77, ’79, is a Thomas Edison State College trustee who has served with distinction since 1995 and is stepping down. She served as chair of the board from 2004 – 2006 and served as a planning associate for the N.J. Department of Education prior to her retirement in 1991. Hammond is a tireless advocate for higher education for adults and a dedicated volunteer and tutor working with the Adult Literacy Program for the Volunteers of America and the N.J. Department of Education’s Literacy Tutorial Program. She is an active member of the National Association of Female Executives, Friends of the Library in Westhampton and Willingboro and Black Community Scholarship Organization.

Graduates and family members who cannot attend the event in person can watch it by visiting

The college awarded more than 1,686 degrees as part of the Fall 2011 Commencement and has awarded more than 40,000 degrees since it began providing flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults in 1972.

About Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College provides flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults. One of New Jersey’s 12 senior public institutions of higher education, the College offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study. Students earn degrees through a wide variety of rigorous and high-quality academic methods that can be customized to meet their individual needs. Identified by Forbes magazine as one of the top 20 colleges and universities in the nation in the use of technology to create learning opportunities for adults, Thomas Edison State College is a national leader in the assessment of adult learning and a pioneer in the use of educational technologies. The College is home to The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. The New Jersey State Library is an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College. Further information about admission to the College may be obtained by calling (888) 442-8372, via e-mail at [email protected] or by visiting the College Web site at