Author: Larry Hlavenka

TV Show Captures Prof.’s Final Teachable Moment

Elin Schikler and Andy Krikun, Ph.D.

PARAMUS, N.J. – On her last day of teaching before retirement, Bergen Community College Professor Elin Schikler met colleague and fellow professor Andy Krikun, Ph.D., for breakfast at a local diner. They didn’t plan on television cameras capturing it.

What began as breakfast among friends turned into a televised lesson on kindness from Professor Schikler, of Nanuet, New York, who intervened on behalf of a hearing-impaired customer facing discrimination and verbal abuse from a waiter. As it turned out, Schikler became the star of ABC’s hidden-camera reality television show “What Would You Do?” by lecturing the waiter on tolerance. The show, which springs ethical dilemmas on unknowing guests, seeks to capture moments of humanity unvarnished by the glow of attention or visibility.

In Schikler’s case, without realizing the hidden cameras, she spoke to a restaurant manager about the waiter’s behavior. When the waiter came back to Schikler’s table to ask her why she involved a manager, she said, “it is not in my nature to let something like that go … never has been and never will be. What was going through my mind was a combination of anger and disbelief. The waiter’s words, tone of voice and demeanor went beyond disrespect. He was cruel. That, above all else was a definite no-no.

“I encourage people to choose the right thing when you can or you see someone being mistreated,” Schikler, who overcame a juvenile learning disability to become an educator, said.

When news correspondent John Quiñones, the actors and camera crew emerged from behind the scenes, Schikler and Krikun, of Nyack, New York, gasped.

“I am not an avid TV watcher, so I had no idea this show existed,” Krikun, who teaches music, said. “It was an incredible coincidence that this event happened on the same day that we were celebrating Elin’s retirement. She had just finished her last day on campus. But during this difficult circumstance, she handled herself with the same poise and determination that made her such a dynamic educator.”

Schikler served as professor of communication at Bergen for 29 years and chair of the communication department for eight years. Schikler holds a B.A. and M.A. in the disciplines of speech and theatre from Lehman College.

“What a way to go,” she said. “My last day at Bergen, breakfast with a friend and being a reality ‘star’ for a few minutes. Being on the show was an amazing experience, even more so when I realized it was a set-up. The calls and texts I got from friends, family and people I had not seen or spoken to in years was heart-warming. Their agreement and support for what I said reminded me that there are many good, sensitive people around.”

To watch the “What Would You Do?” episode featuring the Bergen professors, visit here: https://youtu.be/1wiuwkRtZVk?t=144.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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Changing Your Future Begins at Bergen Open House

Bergen will open a new facility in Hackensack for culinary students in coming years.

PARAMUS, N.J. – A prospective student open house at Bergen Community College Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 4 to 7 p.m. at 400 Paramus Road in Paramus will feature workshops, tours and information on programs that can help make college more affordable – including tuition-free.

While exploring New Jersey’s No. 1 college for associate degree graduates, prospective students can receive assistance filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filing a FAFSA can help students become eligible for programs such as the state’s tuition-free Community College Opportunity Grant, which has now expanded to include households making up to $65,000 per year. Attendees should bring their/parents’ tax returns.

Also at the event, attendees will have the opportunity to view the state-of-the-art STEM Student Research Center, which includes supercomputers, a standing 3-D printer and drone cage. Focus on STEM continues at Bergen as the federal government estimates U.S. employers will add nine million STEM jobs by 2022.  Projects at Bergen have included converting a softball field house into a workshop, high-altitude balloon launches conducting experimental testing with two wind turbines and a solar panel system.

The comprehensive, campus wide open house will allow families to meet with current students, faculty and staff, explore the fashion design lab, broadcasting studio, horticulture greenhouse, animation lab, theatres, the Child Development Center, Veterans Center, flight simulators and more. To RSVP, visit bergen.edu/openhouse or email [email protected]. Información disponible en español.

The state’s largest community college, Bergen offers programs in fields such as aviation, business administration, culinary arts, fashion design and nursing. Alumni have transferred to institutions such as Yale, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley. The College maintains campus locations in Paramus (main), Hackensack (Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center) and Lyndhurst (Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands) while also offering online classes. Its main campus features facilities such as the Health Professions Integrated Teaching Center, the Emil Buehler Trust Observatory and Stryker Manufacturing Lab, which provide students with hands-on, practice-based learning opportunities. Day and evening classes take place throughout the week – including a “weekend college” program.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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Silent Film Series Starts with a Scare this Halloween

PARAMUS, N.J. – Experience Dracula like never before this Halloween with “Nosferatu,” the 1922 expressionist film created as an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” The film will open the Bergen Community College Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre silent film series Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at the institution’s main campus, 400 Paramus Road. The event will feature live music accompaniment from Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton, who blend keyboard, vocals, electronics and percussion.

Crafted by German director F. W. Murnau, “Nosferatu” depicts Dracula as a nightmarish, spidery creature with a bulbous head and claws. The film’s landscapes, villages and castle feature actual locations in the Carpathian mountains.

Ticket prices for the general public are $15 with no charge for Bergen students. Tickets can be purchased at tickets.bergen.edu or (201) 447-7428.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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Helff Hall Dedicated in Memory of Veterinary Technology Student

Bergen Community College and government officials joined the Helff family during the rededication of Suzanne M. Helff Hall.

PARAMUS, N.J. – When Suzanne M. Helff returned to Bergen Community College in 1997 after taking time away to raise her daughter, she decided to pursue a degree related to a lifelong passion: the care of animals. Tragically, Helff never completed her studies in the institution’s veterinary technology program, passing away shortly after her return to the College that same year.

Twenty-two years and $100,000 in donations from friends and family later, the facility housing the veterinary technology program will bear her name.

The College officially rededicated its veterinary technology building “Suzanne M. Helff Hall” during an Oct. 3 morning ceremony attended by Bergen President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., trustees, Bergen Community College Foundation directors, students, current and former faculty and staff, local labor leaders, members of the Helff family and government officials such as Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders Vice Chair Mary Amoroso, Chair Pro Tempore Joan Voss, Ed.D. and representatives from offices such as District Five Rep. Josh Gottheimer.

“Suzanne was a lifelong animal lover who cared for creatures large and small both at home and as a volunteer at local shelters,” President Redmond said. “Today, we celebrate her life and the contributions of faculty, staff, Helff family members and the community who pledged their support for this dedication.”

The rededication marks the completion of a fundraising effort led by retired Bergen professor Peter Helff, Suzanne’s father, to secure $100,000 in donations toward veterinary technology student scholarships through the College foundation. Two decades ago, Helff worked with foundation officials to establish the naming opportunity and fundraising goal in his daughter’s memory.

Freeholders Amoroso and Voss and Bergen professors Fred Golub and Peter A. Helff – Suzanne’s brother – also offered remarks.

“This is somber in that it brings back things for my family that we never thought we would deal with in our lives,” he said. “But there were a lot of good times. We grew up with a lot of pets mostly brought in by my sister … and that passion carries on. All of my family, we all have pets and that has to do with my sister and the passion she instilled in all of us.”

Bergen’s veterinary technology program prepares dozens of students each year for careers as veterinary technicians who assist veterinarians in animal practices and laboratories.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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Showman Brings Bobby Darin to Bergen

Bobby Darin and Ron Gartner.

PARAMUS, N.J. – “The Music of Bobby Darin,” starring Ron Gartner, will take centerstage as part of Bergen Community College’s “Curtain Up!” 2019-20 season Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre (400 Paramus Road).

The Las Vegas-style singer Gartner, a New York City showman, will perform hits like “Mack the Knife,” “Splish Splash” and “Beyond the Sea.” Gartner will share backstage stories and honor the music, life, and times of Darin, the legendary singer, songwriter, movie star and nightclub performer.

Ticket prices for the general public are $45, with discounts offered to senior citizens ($35), Bergen faculty/staff ($35) and students ($10). Group discounts are also available. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.bergen.edu or by calling (201) 447-7428.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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A “Picnic” at Bergenstages Theatre

John Kroner, from Hillsdale, as Hal Carter, and Sarah Villarini, from Hawthorne, as Madge Owens.

PARAMUS, N.J. – The Bergenstages theatre troupe presents its first production of the season, “Picnic,” a Pulitzer Prize awarded play about a group of lonely women preparing for an annual picnic in a small Kansas town whose lives are disrupted by the appearance of a charming drifter. Beginning Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Bergen Community College’s Ender Hall Theatre on the Paramus campus (400 Paramus Road), this romantic drama written by playwright William Inge explores love, relationships, marriage, rites of passage and disappointments.

The show runs Friday, Oct. 25, Saturday, Oct. 26, Thursday, Oct. 31, Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 2, matinee performances will take place at 2 p.m.

Bergenstages general tickets are $15, with discounts offered to senior citizens ($10) and Bergen faculty and staff ($10) and students ($5). For additional information, please call (201) 447-7428 or visit tickets.bergen.edu.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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Bergen Prof. Honored by Government Leaders

Professor Mina Ahn, Ph.D.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Government officials, including Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton and Bergen County Clerk John Hogan, have honored Bergen Community College Professor Mina Ahn, Ph.D., with the “Outstanding Educator Award.” The county leaders recognized Professor Ahn and members of the Korean Community Center, a College partner, during a Korean independence day flag raising ceremony in August.

“Dr. Mina Ahn is an outstanding professor who deserves credit for her hard work as an educator and as a community activist,” Bergen County Executive Tedesco said. “We were honored to recognize her and look forward to watching her grow into an even bigger role model and inspiration to our students. Bergen Community College and its students are fortunate to have her.”

Ahn, of Ridgewood, who teaches psychology, remains active in enhancing the institution’s relationship with the Korean population in Bergen County. According to the federal government, Bergen contains – by percentage of the overall population – each of the top 10 municipalities in the United States for Korean-Americans. The College enrolls 357 students with Korean citizenship – the highest number of students from any country other than the United States.

“It’s an honor,” Professor Ahn said. “But I don’t consider it as a personal achievement, really. It’s an acknowledgement of the College and what we’re doing for the Korean-American community.”

In the spring, Ahn and Professor Kil Yi, Ph.D., launched a program featuring a series of lectures on American history, government and politics for members of the Tenafly-based Korean Community Center. Ahn and Yi developed the program with the center’s CEO, Eunju Ryu, which provided lectures on topics such as “Culture of Prosperity,” “Culture of Inequality” and “Culture of Progress” for 150 center members. Participants – many of whom emigrated to the United States during the last 50 years – each received a certificate of completion during an end-of-semester celebration.

Due to the success of the initiative, the College plans to expand the model to other demographic, ethnic and cultural groups by creating additional learning community programs. Ahn remains proud of the partnership.

“The Korean community wants to learn,” she said. “One of the most gratifying experiences is that when I arrive in classes, the students are just waiting for me – beaming – and so passionate about learning. It’s not something they have to do – it’s something they want to do.”

The College once again partnered with the Korean center to host “NJSeoul: New Art from the Korean Diaspora” in Gallery Bergen, which features the work of 15 artists of Korean descent. The gallery, located on the third floor of West Hall, 400 Paramus Road at the main campus, will remain on view through Thursday, Oct. 31; regular hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

Also this semester, the College has offered its first courses taught in the Korean language – a major step, according to Ahn.

“They’ve been very successful so far and we’re expanding the classes in the spring,” she said.

Ahn has worked at the College since 2007. She earned a B.A. at the University of California, Riverside and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She co-authored “What might have been: The social psychology of counterfactual thinking” and previously worked as a research analyst at Young and Rubicam, an advertising and media firm in New York.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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Bergen, Partners Launch $12 Million Healthcare Grant

Bergen Community College President Dr. Michael D. Redmond, at lectern, joined by (from left) Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders Vice Chair Mary Amoroso (blue jacket), Freeholder Chair Germaine Ortiz and New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Joined by government officials, healthcare industry partners, college leaders and students who recently began apprenticeship training, Bergen Community College announced the acquisition of a $12 million U.S. Department of Labor grant during a Sept. 25 event in the institution’s Health Professions Integrated Teaching Center. The Bergen-led application represented one of only 23 projects awarded a total of $183.8 million by the federal government during this cycle.

As part of the Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant, Bergen will lead a consortium of partners to expand and enhance apprenticeship programs for more than 5,000 New Jersey residents. The four-year NJ HealthWorks initiative includes 14 community colleges and healthcare partners such as CVS Health, the Health Care Association of New Jersey and the RWJBarnabas Health System. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development also supported the consortium’s application.

The Sept. 25 kickoff event featured remarks from Bergen President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders Chair Germaine Ortiz and New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

“This grant represents the best kind of collaborative partnership and we look forward to working together to help put people to work,” President Redmond said. “In short, this program creates opportunity and expands economic mobility, both of which are central to our mission as a community college and aligns with the Vision 2028 Framework for the Future initiative of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.”

“Healthcare represents a cornerstone of Bergen County’s workforce,” Freeholder Chair Ortiz said. “This grant will not only help put people to work, but further support the needs of healthcare employers who require high-skilled, supremely trained employees. I am proud that Bergen Community College has taken a leadership role in this effort and excited about the possibilities that stand before us.”

“Thousands of new apprentices will be mentored in careers that are rewarding, family sustaining, and vital to our country’s future healthcare needs because of the commitment to apprenticeship by Bergen Community College and its healthcare partners,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “In my mind, there is almost no industry sector that cannot benefit from an apprenticeship program, and this new partnership among government, industry, and higher education proves the point.”

Under the grant, Bergen will expand nine existing programs and create five new initiatives blending classroom education and work experience in positions such as sonographers, patient care technicians and paramedics. The grant will specifically target assisting residents in the state’s underserved populations including displaced, unemployed, underemployed and veteran workers. Healthcare added 220,700 new jobs in New Jersey during the last 27 years, nearly outpacing the entire private sector’s employment growth over the same period. With six hospitals and more than 70,000 jobs, healthcare represents Bergen County’s top workforce cluster.

NJ HealthWorks partners:

  • Bergen Community College (lead)
  • Advanced Subacute Rehabilitation Center
  • Atlantic Cape Community College
  • Brookdale Community College
  • Camden County College
  • Christian Health Care Center
  • County College of Morris
  • CVS Health
  • East Orange Medical Practice
  • Essex County College
  • Hudson County Community College
  • Mercer County Community College
  • Middlesex County College
  • Ocean County College
  • Passaic County Community College
  • Roosevelt Care Center at Edison
  • Rowan College at Burlington County
  • Rowan College at Gloucester County
  • RWJBarnabas Health System
  • Trinitas Regional Medical Center
  • Union County College

Additional partners including District Council Local 1199J Training and Education Fund, the Health Care Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Garden State Employment and Training Association and local workforce development boards also provide support.

Bergen currently enrolls nearly 1,100 students in health professions programs such as radiation therapy, surgical technology and certified home health aide. Many learn in the institution’s Health Professions Integrated Teaching Center, constructed under the Building our Future Bond Act approved by voters in Nov. 2012 and opened in 2016. The facility features 19 SMART classrooms, 13 dedicated laboratories and a simulation center for labor and delivery, ambulatory pediatrics, emergency room, long term and intensive care.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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The Duprees Return to Bergen by Popular Demand

PARAMUS, N.J. – The Duprees open Bergen Community College’s “Curtain Up!” 2019-20 season Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre (400 Paramus Road).

Back at the Ciccone by popular demand, the Duprees’ status as one of the nation’s favorite golden oldies groups comes from their romantic interpretations of popular love songs from the 1950s including “You Belong to Me,” “Have you Heard” and “Why Don’t You Believe Me.” Ticket prices for the general public are $45, with discounts offered to senior citizens ($35), Bergen faculty/staff ($35) and students ($10). Group discounts are also available. Purchase seats at tickets.bergen.edu or (201) 447-7428.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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College Offers Training for New Bridge Staff

PARAMUS, N.J. – Responding to the statewide shortage of certified nursing assistants, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center has entered into a collaborative agreement with Bergen Community College to host a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program onsite at the hospital. Officials from both partners will gather Sept. 18 at the medical center to officially launch the program.

“Healthcare represents the No. 1 employment sector in Bergen County, making it a priority for our institution to provide students with the hands-on learning experiences required to quickly enter and succeed in the modern workforce,” President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., said. “This collaborative partnership with Bergen New Bridge Medical Center will help expand the personal and economic mobility of their employees, who will learn the skills needed to secure employment in the rapidly expanding healthcare sector.”

The program is available free of charge to staff at Bergen New Bridge who meet program qualifications. Those selected will participate in a 90-hour course, led by College instructors, in a new learning center located on the Bergen New Bridge campus. Upon successful completion of both the program and the certification exam, graduates will become part of the Bergen New Bridge long term care clinical team.

“I am deeply committed to furthering the growth and education of our workforce,” Bergen New Bridge President and CEO Deborah Visconi said. “I believe it is our responsibility to educate future health care providers and leaders for our community and state. This new and innovative program will serve as a learning and career path for those who have a desire to care for others through a clinical career. This training collaboration will also bridge the gap regarding a shortage of care providers our state is experiencing, while empowering our staff to fulfill their academic and professional passions in an organization that promotes growth, supports diversity, and embraces inclusion.”

Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, a clinical affiliate of Rutgers, is a 1,070-bed hospital located at 230 East Ridgewood Avenue in Paramus, New Jersey. The medical center is both the largest hospital and licensed nursing home in New Jersey and the fourth-largest publicly-owned hospital in the nation. Learn more at www.newbridgehealth.org.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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