Bergen Student to Paint Quest Autism Mural

Bergen Community College students and art contest finalists Natalie Rodriguez, Jan Mark Talingdan (winner) and Alesia Kosak.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College student Jan Mark Talingdan has won an art contest sponsored by Quest Autism Programs & Foundation to paint a mural at the nonprofit’s new headquarters at 159 Godwin Avenue. Bergen County Freeholder Chair Tracy Silna Zur, Quest and College representatives, including Vice President of Academic Affairs William Mullaney, Ph.D., announced Talingdan as the winner during a June 4 open house at Quest.

“The Quest Autism Programs & Foundation art contest represented a unique opportunity for our talented students to make a lasting impact in our community,” Mullaney said.

Bergen and Quest opened the contest in December, asking students to sketch a design for a donor wall that would recognize past supporters and encourage new ones. Students had the opportunity to visit the site in order to visualize the space before putting pencil to paper. Ultimately, 30 students submitted proposals.

The winner, Talingdan, received a $750 scholarship from Quest for his winning design. Three finalists, Bergen students Alesia Kosak, Hayley Rauch and Natalie Rodriguez each received $250 scholarships.

Talingdan, of Ridgefield Park, has maintained an interest in art since childhood. Winning the Quest competition surprised him.

“There are so many people who did amazing work,” he said. “The competition was stiff.”

An engineering science major at Bergen, he plans to transfer to a four-year research university to study aerospace engineering after his graduation.

Since opening in 2005, Quest has sought to meet the vocational, recreational and social needs of adults with autism. The program enrolls adults over age 21 who continue to require individual supports after they have completed their school-based education.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls 15,000 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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