BCC-FDU partnership picking up speed and students
The BCC-FDU Scholars Program team (from L to R) of Rachel Murphy, Almida Hernandez and Liz Drywa man the interest table. Students stop by for informal chats, program details, interest forms and faculty/staff meet and greets.
By Kenna Caprio
Once a week, Almida Hernandez sets up her promotional table in a busy hallway of the Pitkin Educational Center, near the student government offices and food court at Bergen Community College. One March afternoon, a representative from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s financial aid office joins Hernandez to meet with a BCC student and her mother in a nearby office. Two more students hover nearby, waiting their turn.
Since launching the BCC-FDU Scholars Program in October, more than 30 BCC graduates have been admitted to the University for the fall 2014 semester. Five students already enrolled at FDU’s Metropolitan Campus this spring.
“Word’s gotten around,” says Hernandez, the interim director of the BCC-FDU Scholars Program. “Students bring friends into my office (at BCC). They’re enthusiastic to continue their education close to home and at a reduced tuition. And now someone’s here to answer questions whenever they want.”
After the agreement was signed last fall, a dedicated program office at BCC was established to help students enroll at and transition to FDU. Interested BCC students can visit Hernandez’s office to review FDU admissions standards and ask questions. She often guides students through an online application as they sit across the desk from her and can later register admitted students for their first FDU classes.
“The program’s like a tumbleweed picking up speed,” says Rachel Murphy, FDU’s director of the Center for Student Academic Services. “Transfer students are very focused and career-oriented, which is great for the classroom environment.”
It was a career change that sent Bianca Ho back to school at BCC for her associate degree in hospitality. Originally, she worked in fashion design. “I see myself more in customer service instead of just sitting and drawing as a designer,” she says.
In her hospitality courses at the community college, the Hong Kong native learned about leadership and customer service. Students and faculty took trips to local hotels and restaurants to get first-hand introductions to the field.
“My professor who taught wine and beverage management told us about FDU,” Bianca says. “He and the department are working on transferring more credits over.”
Under the BCC-FDU Scholars Program agreement, all credits taken at BCC — up to the maximum of 64 that make up an associate degree — can be considered for transfer to FDU upon graduation.
The University stood out to Bianca because, “FDU is one of the top four hospitality programs in the U.S.,” she says.
She’s eager to take advantage of the University’s hospitality study abroad options in Switzerland or Amsterdam and local internship placements. Regarding internships, she says, “there are so many opportunities for the students to have. And a big variety: not just internships at hotels, but also resorts, private clubs and restaurants. I’m looking forward to all of this.”
Right: Applicants can find Hernandez’s office in Bergen Community College’s Center for Student Success in the Pitkin Education Center.
Since 2001, FDU has partnered with community colleges around the state, bringing bachelor’s and master’s degrees to underrepresented areas. This program builds upon those efforts, providing access to a full range of undergraduate as well as combined bachelor’s/master’s degree programs. It also offers generous academic scholarship incentives.
BCC students who enroll at FDU will be eligible for up to a 40 percent reduced tuition rate. High-achieving BCC graduates, such as NJ STARS II and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members, are eligible for even greater scholarships at the University.
“I went to BCC as a stepping stone into college life. I found it to be a liberating experience compared to high school,” says Dominick Pallottie, who also recently enrolled at FDU, with scholarship support from NJ STARS and Phi Theta Kappa. “I heard about the BCC-FDU Scholars Program on Channel 12 news, read about it on NorthJersey.com and received a phone call from Almida Hernandez regarding the opportunity. Without knowing about this program I might not have considered FDU as an option to further my education.”
So far, Pallottie’s pleased with his decision to attend FDU. Advice and help from Hernandez and other University staff members eased the transition.
“It all seems like the perfect fit,” continues Pallottie of Saddle Brook, N.J. “I wanted to stay local, FDU has the criminal justice program that I was looking for and the scholarship opportunity made it more affordable to attend. I’m also excited to learn about the master’s program in criminal justice.”
Back in the hallway at BCC, more students are taking Hernandez’s business card.
“The personal touch eases them into the transition,” says Hernandez, who also suggests BCC-FDU Scholars Program students participate in transfer orientation to further familiarize themselves with FDU.
Continuing through May, Hernandez will welcome FDU representatives from various academic departments to BCC each week. Student services staff will also make appearances at the BCC-FDU Scholars Program table. Once students fill out an interest form, Hernandez follows up with an email containing details about academic department visits and application information.
“We just want to see the program become a success by bringing in good students,” adds Murphy. “The agreement is advantageous to everyone taking part in it.”
For details on the BCC-FDU Scholars Program, contact Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org.