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 Outstanding Community College Alumni to be Honored by National Assciation 

April 20, 2017
Contact: Martha Parham
202/728-0200, x209

Recipients are examples of community colleges’ ability to change lives

Washington, DC—Community colleges are the gateway to educational and career success for millions of students. This year, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is honoring outstanding community college alumni who have made a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. They will be recognized for their achievements at AACC’s 97th Annual Convention on Tuesday, April 25 at 10:00 a.m. at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, La. The awards brunch also will feature a keynote address by Jenna Bush Hager, author, television correspondent and daughter of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

The honorees:

Kevin Berg is executive vice president of production at CBS Network Entertainment Group. He’s been responsible for the launch and success of the CSI and NCIS franchises, Blue Bloods, Elementary, and more. But as a young man growing up in Massachusetts, Berg was aimless. He took a year off after high school to work at one of the region’s many chair factories. He didn’t want to do it forever, so he enrolled at Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) and studied communications. After college, he did a brief stint at a Boston radio station, then headed to Los Angeles. After knocking on doors, he ended up with a job with an award-winning director.

Now a success in his field, Berg also has become a philanthropist. He served five years as a member of the Board for the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a leading charitable organization. And he’s involved with Save the Children and several community impact projects. He’s also helped countless people start careers in the industry. He’s known for answering cold calls and taking chances on people. Berg embodies MWCC’s mission to prepare individuals for lives of fulfillment, leadership, and service in a diverse and global society.

Chong Keun Chu came to America from Seoul, Korea, in 1975. Unsure of how exactly to make his dream a reality, he got a job doing manual labor in Texas. In 1978, he heard about the opening of a new college: Brookhaven College. Chu enrolled in a non-credit painting class. His teacher recognized his talent and passion. He encouraged Chu to enroll as a credit student. Chu took his advice. Eventually, he transferred to Southern Methodist University with a full scholarship. Chu has embraced his heritage and identity in his art. It’s redefined him as a Korean-American artist. Now, his art has been featured more than 30 times at numerous galleries nationally and internationally. In 1995, he published the Korean drawing book, From Trash to Treasure. It introduced the American art education system to Korean art students and their parents. In 2006, Chu was the American Continental Curator of the third Gong-Ju International Art Festival in Korea. Closer to home, he and his wife created art for two Dallas Rapid Transit stations.

Chu’s been a full-time professor of fine art at Brookhaven since 2002, and donates his artwork to college fundraising projects.

Jonathan Mark Lane, an alumnus of Big Bend Community College (Washington), was a teacher and wrestling coach at Frontier Middle School when, in 1996, he found himself facing down a 14-year-old student who had a hunting rifle.

The student shot and killed his teacher and two other students, and severely injured another student. Lane risked his life to confront and disarm the student and save the lives of 16 students. He received the Carnegie Hero Award, the Rotary

International Paul Harris Award, and several others. He was invited to testify before a committee at the U.S. House of Representatives regarding school shootings, and a made-for-television show called Hero’s Welcome, airing in 2006, highlighted his actions.

Lane continued to be an educator, serving as a principal before entering public service. He served on the Moses Lake City Council for 11 years and was elected mayor in 2010. He’s served as a trustee at Big Bend Community College and established the Lane Family Scholarship fund at the college to support low-income students. He’s currently president of the Washington State Association of College Trustees.

Emad Rahim’s life today is a far cry from where he started out. He was born in a concentration camp in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. His father and brother died there. Rahim’s mother strapped him to her back and risked landmines and soldiers to get to a refugee camp in Thailand. They were awarded sponsorship to America, but there were more setbacks. While living in Brooklyn during the height of the crack epidemic, Rahim walked into a drug deal gone wrong. He was shot in the leg. His mother decided to relocate the family to Syracuse. There were other struggles: an abusive stepfather, poverty, dyslexia and discrimination. Rahim got through high school with the help of a mentor. At New York’s Onondaga Community College, he began taking on leadership roles. He went on to earn multiple graduate degrees in business and a doctorate in management. Along the way, he became a husband and father.

Now, Rahim serves as an endowed chair and professor at Bellevue University. He founded the Project Management Center of Excellence at Bellevue, and Venture Connect at Morrisville State College. He’s been a Fulbright Scholar and a TedX speaker. He uses his own story to inspire and motivate students. He works with community organizations to combat racism and foster diversity. He received a congressional award for civic engagement and was recognized by the United Nations as an Empact 100 Honoree. His story was turned into a short documentary and was part of the Syracuse Theater production, Tales from the Salt City.

Karen Trovato’s inventive nature began early. The daughter of an IBM engineer, she earned an amateur radio license when she was 9 years old and enjoyed helping her father with technical projects and his own inventions. It left a mark on her. Trovato studied math at Dutchess Community College in New York—one of the few women studying in that field. She continued her schooling and eventually earned her Ph.D. in computer science and robotics from the University of Amsterdam. She spent 36 years working at Philips Research North America, developing around 50 inventions. She developed algorithms that led to the self-parking car. In 2005, she was named Inventor of the Year by the New York Intellectual Property Law Association. Her work resulted in 40 issued patents in the U.S. and over a hundred worldwide. But of her many inventions, it’s her work in healthcare that really keeps her going. She invented the Electronic Pill in 2007 after becoming interested in Michael J. Fox’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease. The remote-controllable pill delivers medication at the most optimal time. This invention spun out of Philips and became the Medimetrics company, offering Intellicap. She’s currently working on devices that reach and treat lung cancer without surgery.

Trovato also values community service. She’s a trained EMT and volunteered weekly for the Peekskill Ambulance Corps for years. And she works with the American Association of University Women to introduce girls to science, math, technology and engineering.


As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.

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