PARAMUS, N.J. – After two years of virtual ceremonies necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bergen Community College will return to a live and in-person commencement ceremony next month at MetLife Stadium. Bergen’s biggest day of the academic year will take place Thursday, May 19 at 10 a.m. with more than 2,500 students expected to become eligible for graduation.
Bergen President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., will preside over his third ceremony at the state’s largest community college, leading the event and procession of the assembled faculty, staff, government officials and community members in attendance to celebrate the graduates.
The East Rutherford venue, home to the National Football League’s New York Giants, provides an appropriate backdrop for keynote speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez - a history teacher who famously helped spur the Giants to a fourth Super Bowl championship with his motivational tactics and “all-in” mantra. Since then, Gonzalez has addressed Fortune 500 companies, teams and groups from around the world while continuing to serve as the Giants’ team chaplain.
Bergen County Executive James Tedesco III and Bergen County Commissioner Chair Tracy Zur will also provide remark, while former U.S. Professor of the Year Geoffrey Sadock, Ph.D., will lead the procession of invited guests as grand marshal.
Valedictorian Katie Conte, of Ringwood, a member of the New Jersey All-State Academic Team, will offer her remarks as the top student in the class of 2022. Conte has provided leadership for Bergen’s Alpha Epsilon Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, which recently earned a number of international and regional awards recognizing their honors in action project that highlighted the complexities of “identity” in America and what it means to the Korean immigrant community. She has also earned individual awards such as induction into the Phi Theta Kappa Regional Chapter Officer Hall of Honor, the 2022 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and even had a paper published in the Nota Bene Literary Journal. She also recently won the 2022 Scott Wright Student Essay Contest, a $1,000 scholarship and an invitation to the NISOD International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence.
Student Government Association President Christina Feinroth, of Rochelle Park, will close the ceremony by leading her peers in the traditional turning of tassels, signifying their status as college graduates.
The class of 2022 features dozens of Bergen County high school students earning degrees as part of the College’s early college program, members of the Turning Point Program for students with intellectual disabilities and 86 students with 4.0 GPAs.
The College will livestream the event beginning with a preshow at 9:30 a.m. on Bergen.edu and all of its official social media channels.
Since its inception, Bergen has grown into the state’s largest community college with approximately 11,000 students taking classes this semester. The College ranks No. 1 in New Jersey for associate degree graduates.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), 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.
Photo Caption: Bergen Community College’s commencement ceremony returns in-person at MetLife Stadium this year.