News

Student Leader Notches National Honor

Gabriella Setti.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College student Gabriella Setti has received the Undergraduate Student of the Year Award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration for her campus contributions and student judiciary leadership as chief justice of the Bergen Student Government Association (SGA).

“The Office of Student Conduct and the Division of Student Affairs is very proud of Gabriella for receiving the Undergraduate Student of the Year Award and believes that this is a great representation of her and the institution,” Ian Wolf, coordinator of student conduct and information, said. “Gabriella has distinguished herself as a vibrant student leader in this role by tackling problems head on, mentoring emerging student leaders, and exploring new ideas of student engagement through the lens of student conduct.”

Passionate about social justice and women’s rights, Setti, a psychology major, aspires to enter a career in law.

“It is a huge honor to win the award,” Setti, of Teaneck, said. “It was a surreal and humbling experience for me. I personally love what I do as chief justice.”

Serving as the chief justice of the SGA since May 2018, Setti chairs the judiciary branch of the SGA and serves as one of five student leaders on the SGA executive board. She also co-chairs a college-wide committee, Breathe Clear Campus, which focuses on ending tobacco use at Bergen. Setti completed training to become a student member of the College’s community standards review board and motor vehicle appeal boards. She will graduate in May.

The Association for Student Conduct Administration has a mission to advance the student conduct profession and promote core values in advocacy, community, diversity and inclusion, education, integrity, and leadership. The Association for Student Conduct Administration awards the Undergraduate Student of the Year Award to an undergraduate student who has held a leadership role related to student conduct administration and has made significant contributions to his or her institution.

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 Screens Classics from Silent Film Era

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College will continue its “Cinema Ciccone” film series with the screening of two classics from the silent film era – “Assunta Spina” and “The Immigrant” Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre (400 Paramus Road).

Produced in 1915, “Assunta Spina” is based on the novel and play by Salvatore Di Giacomo. It portrays a working-class girl in Naples, Italy, whose livelihood and honor is constantly threatened by those more powerful than herself. “The Immigrant,” produced in 1917, stars Charlie Chaplin, who also wrote and directed the film. The movie depicts Chaplin as an immigrant who is accused of theft on his voyage to the U.S. and how he falls in love with a young woman.

Bergen professor John T. LaBarbera also will perform two newly composed scores to enhance the experience.

Admission is $20 per person. 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 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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Prof. Who Brought TEDx to Bergen Honored

Professor Ellen Feig introducing a speaker at a Bergen TEDx event.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College Professor Ellen Feig has received the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award from the League for Innovation in the Community College for her work in creating and implementing the TEDx program at the institution. TEDx events provide communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through guest speakers. Bergen was the first community college in the country to earn a TEDx license in 2014.

“This award recognizes the hard work of the professors and students who have contributed to make this program a success,” Feig said. “In 2018, more than 100 students volunteered at our event and we had more than 300 attendees, including two local area high schools.”

Feig, of Nyack, New York, recalls 2016 as her favorite year of hosting TEDx.

“We had such a diverse group of student volunteers,” she said. “They worked so well together and made the day such a success.”

Bergen’s TEDx events have featured talks on a wide range of issues including the Armenian genocide and the importance of change in the world.

“Our first event was small but our program has grown throughout the years,” Feig said. “Other colleges throughout the country have used our template to start their own TEDx program, which is its own reward. In addition, there have been nearly two million views of our events on the TEDx YouTube channel.”

The League for Innovation established the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards in 2012. These awards are open to league alliance member institutions to celebrate outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff. Recipients are recognized in a series of activities and promotions, and honored at special events at the League’s Innovations conference each spring.

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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A Tale of Unrequited Love Opens at Bergen

Alexander Preziosi, of Maywood, as Cyrano; Sela Ghougasian, of Emerson, as Roxane; and Cole Mantas of Washington Township as Christian.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Can love survive superficial and physical limitations? The answer will be revealed when the Bergenstages theatre troupe performs “Cyrano De Bergerac” beginning Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Bergen Community College’s Ender Hall Lab Theatre (400 Paramus Road).

Written by Edward Rostand, this 1897 French classic is a timeless tale of wordplay and swordplay. Cyrano, a soldier in the French Army, is a talented musician and poet but lacks self-confidence because of his physical appearance. He is afraid to express his love for the beautiful Roxanne, who is torn between Cyrano and Christian, a handsome cadet.

The performance includes an updated version of the story, adapted by playwright Michael Hollinger and director Aaron Posner.

The show runs Friday, Feb. 22, Saturday, Feb. 23, and Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, March 2 matinee performances will take place at 2 p.m. All performances will be held in the Ender Hall Lab Theatre.

Show ticket prices for the general public are $15, with discounts offered to senior citizens, Bergen faculty and students. 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 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 Alumnus Hikes 2,190-Mile Appalachian Trail

Bergen Community College alumnus Michael Hesleleitner (’09) on the Appalachian Trail.

PARAMUS, N.J. – It’s estimated that fewer than 1,000 men and women from around the world successfully “thru-hike” the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail each year. Bergen Community College alumnus Michael Hesleitner (’09) recently climbed his way onto this year’s list of finishers.

Though Hesleitner, of North Bergen, began his trail odyssey in March, the path to completing it started long before that, first as a Cub Scout and eventually as an Eagle Scout. These experiences not only helped Hesleitner develop an affinity for the outdoors, but the fortitude to tackle lofty goals.

“I’ve always had this desire to ‘get back to nature,’” he said.

Seasoned in shorter hikes, Hesleitner began extending the length of his treks, prepping to tackle the Appalachian Trail. He would make his first attempt in 2016, but after hiking 500 miles developed a stress fracture in his foot and discontinued the march to Maine. Once healthy, Hesleitner began the trail again, but once again interrupted this journey – this time to head back to work as a stagehand and accumulate additional funds.

Preparing for the Appalachian Trail represents an exercise in persistence in and of itself. Hikers must not only train their bodies for the mental and physical trials associated with the trail, but must amass enough money to survive without drawing a salary while hiking for five-to-seven months.

Hesleitner once again started on the trail March 20 of this year, walking an average of 15-to-20 miles per day.

On the trail, hikers must endure challenges associated with wildlife, weather and terrain – relying on backpacks carrying little more than clothes, sleeping bags, a tent, clothes and food. (Heseleitner’s weighed 35 pounds – average among those on the trail). Many hikers now carry mobile phones for mapping and communication, but Hesleitner said service often drops out in the valleys and amidst the heavy woods. Hikers find refuge in towns along the trail, which passes through 14 states from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine, and create “trail families” with fellow backpackers making the trek. “Trail angels” carrying “trail magic” such as candy, soda or fruit also occasionally appear, acting as both helping hands and morale boosters, according to Hesleitner.

Ultimately, Hesleitner would hike through eight national forests, six national parks and numerous state parks, forests, and game lands on the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, enduring a wet spring, hot summer, a muddy Vermont and even a moose encounter – “they’re enormous and can be aggressive,” he said.

Hesleitner kept in touch via social media when possible, snapping photos and communicating his with parents and friends, who supported each of his journeys on the trail. Still, the Bergen theatre production graduate said hikers “lose knowledge of current events and basically everything else” while on the trail. “I didn’t miss anything though.”

The 32-year-old completed his journey October 5 – 200 days from when he began. More than three million people hike the trail each year and approximately 3,000 attempt to traverse the entire length – the equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest 16 times. About one quarter finish.

With the Appalachian Trail now a memory, Hesleitner has his eye on the future.

“I have my mind on new trails,” he said. “I want to put them on my list of accomplishments.”

The Appalachian Trail, a unit of the National Park System managed through public and private partnerships led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, opened in 1937.

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 Exhibition Illuminates a Warming World

Jeff Frost, La Tuna Fire, I-210 (2014).

PARAMUS, N.J. – Nature, human nature and global warming represent the central themes of Gallery Bergen’s latest exhibition, “Lines of Fire/Lines of Ice,” an installment featuring the work of nine artists. The exhibition will open with a reception Thursday, Jan. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Bergen Community College’s main campus at 400 Paramus Road. Featuring a performance by Estonian-born artist Jaanika Peerna, the reception is free and open to the public.

According to Gallery Bergen Director Timothy Blunk, the exhibition provides the artists’ reflections on an evolving planet.

“Lines are being redrawn on the surface of the earth – lines that can be seen from space,” he said. “Yet these same lines are often blurred or erased when viewed through the lens of ideology. If there is such a thing as an essential human nature, our nature is change itself. Artists have historically served as the conscience of humanity; now they may serve as the conscience of the earth itself. This is the palpable hope behind this exhibition: art as an act of stewardship, a testament to a new reintegration of consciousness, body, and earth.”

Among the work on view, artists Peter Alan, Helena Donzelli, and Karen Lynn Ingalls have provided pieces fashioned out of the burned ruins of their own studios, destroyed by the North Bay, California wildfire in Oct. 2017. A time-lapse video from James Balog captures glaciers melting, while Jeff Frost’s shows wildfires advancing; the works appear side-by-side in the exhibition as genuine lines of “fire and ice,” a nod to the overall installation’s title. Work from Bergen physics professor Marie McCrary and adjunct art faculty member Andrea Geller also appear in the exhibition.

“Lines of Fire/Lines of Ice” will remain on view through Saturday, March 30. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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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Appointments Bolster Bergen Leadership Team

Brian D. Agnew, Ph.D., and Ronald Miller.

PARAMUS, N.J. – Senior higher education leaders Brian D. Agnew, Ph.D., and Ronald Miller have joined Bergen Community College’s executive team. The pair began at the College Jan. 14 as executive vice president and executive director of the Bergen Community College Foundation.

“At the state’s No. 1 college for associate degree graduates, leadership has the opportunity to set direction that will impact the learning, support and success of more than 14,000 students each year,” Bergen President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., said. “I, and the board of trustees, have great confidence that Brian Agnew and Ronald Miller will develop progressive strategies that will help the institution achieve its existing goals and lead the College in reaching new levels of productivity, efficiency and excellence.”

As executive vice president, Agnew, of Piscataway, will provide cabinet-level leadership for the institution in areas such as personnel, strategic planning and organizational development. Agnew has dedicated his career to the nonprofit sector, working in a variety of higher education and healthcare settings. Among his roles, Agnew served as the corporate chief development officer for the Robert Wood Johnson University Health System and the assistant dean of advancement and external relations for Rutgers University. Prior to his appointment at Bergen, Agnew led the Sphinx Minerva Group LLC, an education, healthcare and nonprofit leadership consultancy firm, as president and managing partner. Agnew has also worked as an adjunct professor at numerous institutions, teaching classes in leadership and management. As a private citizen, Agnew dedicates his time and expertise to many civic and cultural organizations, including the State Theatre New Jersey, where he serves on the board of trustees. In his hometown of Piscataway, Agnew serves as a volunteer firefighter. He graduated from Utica College (B.S.), Syracuse University (M.B.A.) and Rutgers (Ph.D.) and completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University.

“Stepping into an established leader in community college education such as Bergen represents a source of pride,” Agnew said. “I look forward to charting a course for the institution that builds on its existing 50-plus years of success stories and strengthens its foundation of excellence.”

Miller, of New York, New York, joins the College as executive director of the Bergen Community College Foundation, the 501(c)3 founded in 1982 that has provided approximately $20 million in scholarships and educational support for the institution and its students. A seasoned fundraising executive, Miller has secured millions of dollars in support for arts organizations such as the New York Restoration Project, where he served as chief development officer, and the Phoenix Art Museum, where he served as deputy director and chief development officer. Prior to those appointments, Miller led his alma mater’s nonprofit (the Eastern Michigan University Foundation) as executive director, setting university fundraising records and increasing annual giving by 88 percent. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the institution, majoring in management and marketing.

“The Bergen Community College Foundation brings hope for students,” Miller said. “Given the financial challenges faced by community college students, I am excited to begin developing fundraising strategies that can literally make dreams possible for Bergen’s most vulnerable young men and women.”

The College’s executive team features the individuals charged with top-level leadership and direction for all institutional areas and departments. In addition to President Redmond, Executive Vice President Agnew and Executive Director Miller, the group includes Executive Director of Finance Victor Anaya, Ed.D.; Vice President of Facilities, Planning, Operations and Public Safety William Corcoran; Executive Director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development Christine Gillespie; Vice President of Student Services Waldon Hagan, Ph.D.; Executive Director of Public Relations, Community and Cultural Affairs Larry Hlavenka, Ed.D.; Executive Director of Human Resources Jim Miller; Vice President of Academic Affairs William Mullaney, Ph.D.; and Chief Information Officer Ron Spaide.

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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Federal Scholarship Helps Student Study Abroad

Erin Moran

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College student Erin Moran has earned a $2,500 U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic during the spring 2019 academic term.

Moran, of Kearny, a second-year student at Bergen, will study at the University of New York in Prague. She chose this university because the credits transfer back to Bergen and is particularly excited to take a photography class.

“I want to study abroad because I love to travel and learn about other cultures,” she said. “I’m eager to get out of my comfort zone and have new experiences, including learning a new language.”

A professional studies major, Moran plans to one day pursue a career as an information technology project manager. She is expected to graduate from Bergen in fall 2019 and hopes to continue her studies at Rutgers University or the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

Moran has previously served as the vice president of the College’s honors association and as a senator in student government.

“I chose to attend Bergen because I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to follow,” she said. “Bergen has really helped me to grow as a person.”

In addition to the Gilman scholarship, Moran has also received awards from the Bergen Community College Foundation, the College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS) and the Fund for Education Abroad, totaling $13,500.

Since 2011, 13 Bergen students have earned the Gilman scholarship. Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program, administered by the Institute of International Education, aims to diversify students who study and intern abroad as well as the countries and regions they visit.

“The Gilman award has helped students pay for some of their study abroad costs not covered by financial aid, such as airfare, room and board,” said Bergen International Student Counselor Amparo Codding. “Without this money, students may not have enough funds to cover all of their expenses.”

Since the inception of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program in 2001, more than 89,000 applications have been received and more than 25,000 scholarships have been awarded to students participating in study abroad programs and internships around the world.

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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Student-Athletes Win Smiles with Toy Drive

PARAMUS, N.J. – A group of Bergen Community College student-athletes scored a victory for children in need this holiday season, donating 75 toys to area hospitals and nonprofit organizations through the Fair Lawn Police Department’s annual giving campaign. Organized by the student-athlete advisory committee, which features men and women from each of Bergen’s 12 intercollegiate teams, the students collected toys and monetary donations at the College and delivered them to the police department Dec. 14.

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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Holocaust Discussed During College Speaker Series

PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College will examine the Holocaust through three events during the spring 2019 semester. All events are free and open to the public.

The first, “They Risked Their Lives: Poles Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust,” an exhibition of photography, iconography and quotations, will open Tuesday, Jan. 29 from at 12:30 p.m. in room S-152 at the College’s main campus (400 Paramus Road). The exhibition will remain on view through Thursday, Feb. 28. Featuring the stories of those in German-occupied Poland who sought to provide refuge for Jews living in the country during World War II, the exhibition will arrive at the College on loan from the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 1:45 p.m. in room A-104 at the College, a screening of “Karski & Lords of Humanity” will include a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Slawomir Grunberg. The award-winning, partially animated documentary spotlights the efforts of individuals who worked to prevent the Holocaust.

Finally, on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. in room A-104, New York-based artistic organization Elysium Between two Continents will present a dramatic reading of “Resistance of the Heart,” which chronicles the protests of non-Jewish women who demonstrated against the deportation of their male Jewish family members in 1943 Berlin. The protests led to the males’ release and became known as the “Rosenstrasse protest” – taking its name from the street where the demonstration took place.

Sponsored by the College’s Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, the office of student life, the Judith K. Winn School of Honors, the Hillel club and the Polish culture club, email [email protected] for more information.

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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