NJ Council To Honor State’s Top Community College Student Scholars

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TRENTON—The New Jersey Council of County Colleges will honor New Jersey’s 35 best and brightest community college students and their families at its 18th annual Phi Theta Kappa Day celebration on Thursday, May 3, at the Trenton Marriott Hotel.

“Each year, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges hosts this program to recognize the members of the New Jersey All-State Academic Team, sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges, the Coca-Cola Foundation and the New Jersey Education Association,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence Nespoli. “These students are recognized for their outstanding academic achievement and exceptional service to their communities as members of Phi Theta Kappa at their local community colleges.”

In addition to statewide recognition, Essex County College student Carla Alvarez-Valverde of Bloomfield was named a Coca-Cola Foundation New Century Scholar, and will also receive a $2,000 scholarship for being New Jersey’s top community college student. The Coca-Cola Foundation established the new Century Scholars Program in 2001 to provide additional scholarships and national recognition to the top honors student from each state.

Phi Theta Kappa International and the Coca-Cola Foundation awarded three more scholarships to outstanding New Jersey students as part of the All-USA Academic Team competition.

Burlington County College student Andrea Riley of Willingboro and Raritan Valley Community College student Jamie Parmese of Annandale each received $1,250 scholarships for being named Coca-Cola Foundation All-USA Silver Medalist Scholars. Cumberland County College student Heidi Shelley of Millville received a $1,000 scholarship for being named a Coca-Cola Foundation All-USA Bronze Medalist Scholar.

The 2012 New Jersey All-State Academic Team members are:

  • Atlantic Cape Community College students Stephanie Maruca of Galloway and Junwen Feng of Ventnor City;
  • Bergen Community College students Hector Polanco of Lodi, and Jimmy Bonilla of Elmwood Park;
  • Brookdale Community College students Alexis Caufield of Freehold and Joseph DiPrima of Middletown;
  • Burlington County College students Jessica Libring of Westampton and Andrea Riley of Willingboro;
  • Camden County College students Jun Cai of Cherry Hill and Joshua Cohen of Sicklerville;
  • Cumberland County College students Heidi Shelley and Jessica Slater, both from Millville;
  • Essex County College students Carla Alvarez-Valverde and Michelle Ruiz-Taylor, both from Bloomfield;
  • Gloucester County College students Amanda Rosebery of Pitman and Michael Rossini of Deptford;
  • Hudson County Community College students Avishk Bose of Jersey City and Shannon Gallagher of Harrison;
  • Mercer County Community College students Linda Cruzeta and Michael Dipersio, both from Hamilton;
  • Middlessex County College student Jessica Soto of Old Bridge;
  • County College of Morris student Mariyam Ali of Lake Hiawatha;
  • Ocean County College students Lauren Morone of Brick and Azhar Shah of Jackson;
  • Passaic County Community College students Julie Heale of West Milford and Amanda Weiland of Paterson;
  • Raritan Valley Community College students Jamie Parmese of Annandale and Maribel Santos of Somerville;
  • Salem Community College students Emily Boyle of Pilesgrove and Jacob Wyshinski of Pennsville;
  • Sussex County Community College student Laruen Alger of Newton;
  • Union County College students Mark Gerald Bishop of Westfield and Romina Duarte of Kenilworth; and
  • Warren County Community College students Christina Chmielewski of Phillipsburg and Bellinda Jean-Francois of Bloomsbury.

The New Jersey Phi Theta Kappa Day Celebration is sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The NJEA is the state’s largest association of education professionals, representing nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary teachers, administrators, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers. Also, 20 of New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities have offered over $1 million in scholarships to Phi Theta Kappa students transferring to their institutions.

Phi Theta Kappa has recognized and encouraged scholarship among community college students for 94 years while promoting the academic integrity of the associate degree program. Students with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher are invited to join Phi Theta Kappa.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.


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