PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College alumna Kezia Rodriguez (’22) served as an invited guest of the White House this month, providing an introduction for President Joe Biden during a Rose Garden executive order signing.
The White House hosted the event to spotlight the president’s announcement of new programs that expand care and assistance for children, seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers.
At the signing, Rodriguez shared her story regarding the importance of childcare assistance, which she benefitted from at Bergen. Using federal pandemic relief funds, the College offered tuition-free childcare in the on-campus Child Development Center early learning program for student-parents pursuing degrees during the pandemic.
“I am so thankful for all of the support I received, including funds provided under the American Rescue Plan that allowed me to have access to free childcare while working toward my associate’s degree,” she said at the signing. “I was able to complete my degree all while my daughters were being cared for. All you need to start a fire is a spark; for my family, that spark was free childcare.”
Federal officials, including First Lady Jill Biden, Ed.D., and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Ed.D., visited Bergen’s main campus in January 2022 to recognize the creative efforts the College took to support students during the COVID-19 crisis. During that event, Rodriguez introduced the First Lady before providing her remarks. Impressing the First Lady so much, Rodriguez received an invitation to the 2022 State of the Union Address as well. She now attends Felician University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
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: President Joe Biden and Bergen Community College alumna Kezia Rodriguez (’22). Photo Credit: C-SPAN.