Bergen Community College Commencement Caps Students’ Success

The temperature may have soared into the 90s, but the Bergen Community College class of 2017 didn’t break a sweat at commencement.

More than 2,000 students completed their goals of earning a college degree May 18 at MetLife Stadium – the College’s second commencement ceremony at the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. Bergen has ranked No. 1 in New Jersey for associate degree graduates for three consecutive years.

Led by valedictorian Marilyn Heiner, of Teaneck, a 71-year-old widow who earned a 4.0 GPA and attended 180 straight home and away Giants games during the 1970s and 80s with her deceased husband Don, she reflected on his support of her education.

“I have scored the touchdown of my Super Bowl,” she said, “and my husband has a sky view seat.” In a unique moment at the College’s 48th annual graduation, President B. Kaye Walter, Ph.D., presented Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III with an honorary degree, officially making him part of the class of 2017 as well.

Former College trustee and current Bergen County Freeholder Germaine Ortiz delivered the keynote address, making her the first freeholder in county history to do so. During her remarks, she stressed unity.

“In the current days of wall building, I believe we need to see more bridge building,” she said. “We should find more of what we have in common rather than emphasize what makes us different.”

Graduates will now transfer to some of the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities, while others will immediately enter the workforce. Bergen alumni rank No. 11 in the U.S. for mid-career salaries, according to PayScale.