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The Bergen Community College Newsletter Summer 2014 Volume 1, Issue 3 Commitment to Completion Rewarded at Commencement W ith a turn of the tassel, 2,862 students became Bergen Community College graduates on the evening of May 22 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, fulfilling their goals of earning a college degree. Many will now continue their education, transferring to top four-year schools including Columbia, NYU and Rutgers. Others will enter the workforce, beginning careers in fields such as nursing and criminal justice. The ceremony marked the 45th installment of the annual graduation recognizing students who earned degrees in August and December 2013 and May 2014. Bergen President Dr. B. Kaye Walter (pictured below) presided over the ceremony, leading her second commencement as the College’s top official. “Graduates, from this day forward, you are an important part of the Bergen legacy,” she said. “You are going out to make your mark on the world like no other class has done.” The class included 66 students with 4.0 GPAs — including valedictorian Maria De Abreu Pineda (pictured with brother Luis) and salutatorian Katarzyna Jankowski (pictured). “When you go up, bring someone else with you,” De Abreu Pineda encouraged her peers. “The only constant is change. Today, I challenge you to embrace the change and be better. Let’s learn from our past, take the present challenge and make our future a better place.” The valedictorian, who emigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela, will now study biomedical engineering at a to-be-determined four-year school. While there, she will utilize the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation transfer scholarship — an award received by only 85 students (out of 3,700 who applied!) Fellow class of 2014 graduate Anna Parra Vera also earned the scholarship worth up to $90,000. Meanwhile, the salutatorian, Jankowski, a surgical technology major fluent in three languages — English, German and Polish — stressed the value of hard work and the satisfaction of achievement. “Today, I can honestly say that I am the happiest person I have ever been,” she said. “Yet, I have not forgotten that the good things in my life did not happen by chance.” Ranking as one of the biggest names to headline a Bergen commencement, American Express CEO and chair Kenneth Chenault (pictured) delivered the keynote address. During his remarks, he offered a glimpse into his unique corporate philosophy. “Corporations exist because society allows them to exist,” he said. “In exchange, there must be an understanding that we will contribute to society. And that’s what many of us in the business world are trying to do.” Chenault, the third African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company, has led the $33 billion organization since 2001. ■

Inside Bergen: Volume 1, Issue 3

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