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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. ■

Campus Calendar

Congratulations, Class of 2014!


ore than 6,000 graduates, families, faculty, staff and other well-wishers packed the Izod Center to celebrate the accomplishments of the class of 2014. Before the big day, the College recognized the grads at numerous events — including the academic awards ceremony, nursing pinning and “graduation salute.” ■

Curtain Up! Big stage talents… in Bergen County. Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre Joe Piscopo and the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Joe Muccioli Master of Ceremonies – John Gambling Presented by: “The Answer” 970 AM Saturday, Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m. Oldies Weekend Spectacular Vito Picone and The Elegants Friday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. Larry Chance and The Earls Saturday, Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m. Tickets for events: $35 (General); $20 (Faculty/Staff/Seniors); $10 (Students)

BergenStages Students share their talents and begin their paths to stardom. Watch for the release of the 2014-15 schedule mid-summer! or (201) 447-7428 for tickets.

Events Kids and Teens Summer Camps Various Dates, Times Farm 2 Fork Market Wednesdays through August 20, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Main Campus, Parking Lot C

A Schedule for All Seasons Summer • July 8 — August 7 • July 8 — August 14 • August 11 — 28 Fall • September 2 — December 20 • September 8 — October 23 • September 24 — December 19 • October 29 — December 18 Register at


Inside Bergen • The Bergen Community College Newsletter |

Summer 2014

Inside Bergen • The Bergen Community College Newsletter |

Summer 2014



400 Paramus Road Paramus, New Jersey 07652

Faculty Focus Celeste Finney


A Hunger to Help


irroring the spirit of the initiative, together, officials from Bergen Community College and the Center for Food Action opened the school’s X-Change: Food Pantry at a ceremonial event June 5. Executive Assistant to the President Ursula Parrish Daniels, Ed.D.; Coordinator of Educational Outreach Aretha McMillan; CFA Executive Director Patricia Espy; CFA Board President Rosanne Buscemi; and Vice President of Student Affairs Naydeen Gonzalez-De Jesus, Ph.D. cut the ribbon on the facility, kicking off the collaborative effort to combat hunger at the College. Last year, using donations from the College community, Bergen’s Center for Health, Wellness and Personal Counseling provided assistance to approximately 200 students, faculty and staff during more than 500 visits. Bergen President B. Kaye Walter Ph.D. has personally supported the initiative by donating a new refrigerator that will enable a supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and other perishables. ■

rofessor Celeste Finney’s leadership at Bergen began long before she led the parade of faculty and graduates as commencement 2014’s grand marshal. An academic counselor, Finney started her career at Bergen in 1973. After more than four decades at the school, Finney, the College’s former co-director of the national college-access initiative Project GEAR-UP, continues to spearhead programs. She currently works with the Paramus affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute, which introduced nearly 200 middle school students to the College this past year through the Entering the College Zone program. Upholding her commitment to students, the professor uses her passion for academic success to further students on their academic paths. “You have to listen to what students say and try to help make decisions that will be useful to them in their future,” Finney said. A recipient of many awards, including the New Jersey Community College Counseling Association Award for Counselor Excellence, Educational Opportunity Fund Award and various community recognitions, Finney considers the appointment as grand marshal — while wearing her own graduate school gown — “a true honor.” ■

Middle States Matters!


team of College officials, faculty and staff remain entrenched in the decennial preparation process for a spring 2016 visit by evaluators from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. All institutions of higher education in the Middle States region must apply for accreditation through the organization — including all community, technical and four-year schools. Bergen first received accreditation from Middle States in 1972. Accreditation allows credits to transfer to four-year schools, lends legitimacy to the teaching and research efforts of faculty, delivers financial aid to students and invites the College to consider: “how are we doing?” ■

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Inside Bergen: Volume 1, Issue 3