Bergen Students Shine at Beacon Conference

PARAMUS, N.J. – Selected from more than 30 institutions across the entire northeast region, 10 Bergen Community College students had their papers chosen for presentation at the 30th annual Beacon Honors Conference, with one student winning first place honors.

The students, members of Bergen’s Dr. Judith K. Winn School of Honors and academic disciplines such as history, literature and psychology, participated in the June Zoom event organized by SUNY Orange.

“This year’s organizers had 110 submissions from four different states, so for a student to have their paper accepted is quite an accomplishment,” Bergen Honors Director Seamus Gibbons said. “The fact that we have so many this year is a testament to the amount of work our students put into these papers, and it is a testament to the role that the humanities and social sciences play in our students' scholarly and intellectual development. Without the freedom of such curricular exploration, none of these papers would have materialized.”

At the conference:

· Isabella Westervelt, of Westwood, with mentor Professor Gibbons placed first in the social justice essay category. Her essay focused on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, “Between the World and Me,” which Bergen selected as last year’s college-wide “common read” selection.

· Mana Mehdizadeh, of Nutley, with mentor professor Lisa Mayer, Esq.; Livia Fontana, of Upper Saddle River, with mentor professor Seamus Gibbons; Cassie Lacsina Guinto, of Hackensack, with mentor professor Herve Horner; Deborah Lee, of Englewood Cliffs, with mentor professor Seamus Gibbons; Jae Kwon, of Cliffside Park, with mentor professor Leigh Jonaitis, Ed.D.; Giavanna Paparozzi, of Lodi, with mentor professor John Findura, Ed.D.; Elizabeth Schnur, of Lyndhurst, with mentor professor Mecheline Farhat; Ana Rodriguez, of Toms River, with mentor professor Laura Ochoa, Ph.D.; and Peter Petroski, of Garfield, with mentor professor Lisa Mayer, Esq., each participated as panelists.

The annual Beacon Conference promotes research and scholarship among students from two-year colleges. Criteria for judging during the conference include originality and quality of research, written work and oral presentation.

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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