Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) graduate Catherine O’Neill is the recipient of the Baker and Rannells Paralegal Studies Student Graduate Award.

O’Neill, a resident of Highland Park, NJ, was presented with the honor at RVCC’s Academic Awards Ceremony, held May 13 at the College’s Branchburg Campus. The award was established by Baker and Rannells, PA, a Raritan-based law firm that specializes in intellectual property, trademark and copyright law.

The award honors an RVCC student graduating with an Associate of Applied Science or a Certificate in Paralegal Studies who has demonstrated not only academic excellence, but also a commitment to service combined with an ethic of justice, fairness and integrity, according to James F. Nielsen, Jr., the firm’s Business Operations and Development Manager.

“The firm has hired a number of RVCC graduates from the Paralegal Studies program and has benefited from the good education that the College provides. The award is our way of thanking RVCC,” said Nielsen, who presented the $500 prize to O’Neill at the ceremony.

James F. Nielsen, Jr., Business Operations and Development Manager at Baker and Rannells, PA, presents the Baker and Rannells Paralegal Studies Student Graduate Award to RVCC graduate Catherine O'Neill of Frenchtown.

James F. Nielsen, Jr., Business Operations and Development Manager at Baker and Rannells, PA, presents the Baker and Rannells Paralegal Studies Student Graduate Award to RVCC graduate Catherine O’Neill of Frenchtown.

Catherine O’Neill earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1992 and joined the U.S. Army in 1994. Over the past ten years, she held a variety of temporary positions, including at a corporate law department. When a two-year assignment ended in 2013, she enrolled at Raritan Valley Community College to fulfill her dream of earning a Paralegal Certificate. She earned a 4.0 GPA out of a possible 4.0 in the Paralegal Studies Certificate program and graduated summa cum laude from RVCC. While a student, she joined the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society and was awarded the Sophie Sadowsky Chmil Memorial Scholarship. She has been a member of the American Legion since 1998 and served as a Post Commander from 2002-2004. After receiving an appointment by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, she served as a member of the U.S. Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services from 2002-2005.

RVCC’s Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is designed for students who already have received, or are in the process of obtaining, an Associate Degree or a Baccalaureate Degree in a field of study other than paralegal studies. The 24-credit Certificate program allows students to obtain a paralegal education in a timely and cost-effective manner. It also helps students to meet the requirements of potential employers, a large number of whom require both a college degree and a paralegal certificate as hiring standards.

RVCC’s Paralegal Studies program is approved by the American Bar Association and includes courses in all areas of the legal profession, with specialized courses in such areas as research and writing, litigation, real estate and family law. Faculty members are practicing attorneys or paralegals, each teaching in his or her area of expertise. For additional information about the program, contact RVCC’s Admissions office, 908-526-1200, or email admissions@raritanval.edu.

RVCC’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 40 years, the College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates. RVCC @ Bridgewater, located at 14 Vogt Drive, offers technical, trade, credit and non-credit courses.

The College is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community’s businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu