Bergen Students ‘Share a Coke’ and a Smile

Elda Pere, Remila Jasharllari, Doreta Biba and Sarah Hwang.

 PARAMUS, N.J. – Three Bergen Community College students, Remila Jasharllari, Doreta Biba and Elda Pere, are among only 207 U.S. recipients of the 2017 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars award. Each will receive $1,000 from Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society of two-year colleges, to continue their studies. In addition, Bergen graduate and previous Coca-Cola scholarship recipient Sarah Hwang received a $5,000 award through the 2017 Finch College Alumni and Freya Moskowitz Stern program to continue her path toward a bachelor’s degree.

“Each year, Bergen Phi Theta Kappa students set new standards for excellence,” Bergen President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., said. “I am proud of their individual achievements, and those of the College’s internationally-recognized chapter.”

Pere, of Garfield, seeks to inspire her peers, sharing her own success story as the New Jersey state president of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to expand her voice in the community while serving in her recent appointment as the 2018 DREAM Scholar for the Achieving the Dream college reform network. A STEM student, she has been involved in many special projects including a high-altitude balloon launch. Pere also currently leads the College’s Enable program, helping develop prosthetic hands for disabled students using 3D printing.

Jasharllari, of Lodi, is passionate about international relations as president of the Model United Nations club and founder of the International Justice Mission club at the College. A peer mentor and treasurer of Bergen’s Alpha Epsilon Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree as a double major in economics and political science.

Biba, of Fairview, has sought to help fellow students with academic and professional development, connecting with her peers as an active member of the College’s International Student Association. Treasurer of the Student Government Association and an avid fundraiser on campus, Biba has helped steer many philanthropic projects for student scholarships and relief fund efforts.

Hwang, of Fort Lee, became the first Bergen student to serve on the Phi Theta Kappa international officer team in 2016. Among her initiatives as division I vice president, she worked with peers to increase access to Phi Theta Kappa membership and developed new social media strategies. Hwang graduated from Bergen in May 2017.

Phi Theta Kappa launched the scholarship program in 2001 to help new society members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. Nationwide, nearly 1,000 honor students applied.

Last year, Bergen’s Alpha Epsilon Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa ranked in the organization’s global top 30 chapters. Angie Goldszmidt, of Cresskill, and professor Win Win Kyi, of Hackensack, serve as the chapter co-advisers.

Approximately 91 percent of Phi Theta Kappa members nationwide earn an associate degree or transfer to a four-year institution, compared to the national rate of 38 percent. The organization provides its three million student members with $37 million in transfer scholarships each year. More than 1,300 chapters exist throughout the world.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017-18, 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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