Student Wins Common Read-Inspired Contest

PARAMUS, N.J. – Saying diversity means “celebrating different cultures through advocacy, education and representation,” Bergen Community College student Amanda Kulesza’s words earned her a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book “Between the World and Me” in a social media contest as part of the College’s “common read” initiative.

Amanda Kulesza
The College sponsored the contest across its social media channels, asking followers to describe what diversity meant to them. Kulesza won a random drawing comprised of those who submitted eligible entries.

“I am very excited to win the book because it offers a lot of great insight on different types of racism,” Kulesza said. “Anyone from any background can benefit from reading the book.”

Organizers of the common read have encouraged all Bergen students, faculty and staff to read the book so they can participate in classroom projects across the curricula, on-campus events and community discussions about the award-winning piece of literature. Written as a letter to his son, Coates addresses the complexities of race relations in the United States.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in literature and a certificate in business essentials from Ramapo College of New Jersey, Kulesza, of River Edge, decided to change career paths and enroll in Bergen’s medical office assistant program in January 2021. She now serves as treasurer in the Student Government Association, secretary of Bergen Pride, a member of the Women’s Advisory Committee and a student worker in multiple College offices. She also volunteers as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and participates with the Bergen County LGBTQ+ Association. She anticipates a 2023 graduation from the College.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, 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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