Commencement Celebrates Class of ’18 and College History

Soggy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the Bergen class of 2018.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Bergen Community College put a cap on each of the members of the class of 2018 and the institution’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration May 17 at MetLife Stadium during its annual commencement ceremony. Recognizing the 1,000 graduates in attendance and approximately 2,500 as part of the overall class, the event highlighted student achievements and the institution’s five decades of success stories – blending Bergen’s past, present and future.

Guest speakers such as Gov. Phil Murphy, Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III and Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders Chair Thomas Sullivan joined President Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., and Grand Marshal Ursula Parrish-Daniels, Ed.D., in celebrating students such as valedictorian Zaina Laaroussi, of Fort Lee. She offered optimism for her classmates.

“Wake up every morning and go out in the world with an open mindset,” Laaroussi said. “Listen to what others have to say and take part in intellectual discussion. Do what you love in life because life is too short to just be mediocre.”

During his remarks, Gov. Murphy expressed his support for the class of 2018 – and community colleges.

“It’s places like Bergen Community College,” he said, “where an education has been put within reach of everyone who wants it.”

In addition to remarks from the government officials in attendance during intermittent rain, the program featured videos detailing the College’s history. Special recognitions and musical performances took place in between the videos, including a singing of the College’s alma mater by student Alex Czechowicz, of Tenafly – who wrote new verses as part of the 50th anniversary celebration – and “God Bless America” by student and U.S. Air Force veteran Katalina Escobar, of Woodland Park.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the College has sought to look to the future as well, raising scholarship dollars for the next generation of Bergen students through the $50 for 50 campaign. For $20.18, more than 200 members of the class of 2018 purchased philanthropy cords to support a class gift – a scholarship for future students.

Outgoing Student Government Association President Sibora Peca, of Metuchen, led the class in the ceremonial turning of the tassel, signifying their graduation.

Sixty members of the class of 2018 earned 4.0 GPAs and will now transfer to some of the nation’s top four-year colleges and enter the workforce.

Commemorating the 1967 hiring of Bergen’s first president, Sidney Silverman, Ph.D., and the approval of the master plan that developed the College’s main campus at 400 Paramus Road, the institution launched its 50th anniversary celebration last fall. A committee led by honorary co-chairs Bergen County Executive Tedesco, Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur and retired Executive Vice President Virginia Laughlin directed the institution’s efforts related to celebrating the anniversary.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, 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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