Kaylie Quezada

Providing testimony during the State of New Jersey’s Senate budget hearings on March 19 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, Bergen Student Government Association President Kaylie Quezada made an impassioned plea on behalf of her peers.

“Investing in New Jersey community college students is vital,” she said. “Community college students are beacons that impact the future of New Jersey.”

A delegation of New Jersey community college presidents, students and advocates appeared before the panel with the hopes of restoring $20 million in funding eliminated from Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2025 state budget.

The hearing opened with testimony from Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III, who implored the legislators to work to restore the $20 million.

“This cut will most likely force Bergen Community College and others across the state to raise tuition, negatively impacting our students, who sometimes already have to choose between paying for dinner or paying for a textbook,” he said. “In order to build a prosperous and productive workforce, and prepare our future leaders of tomorrow, we must continue to invest in our community colleges.”

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges organized the testimony, which also included remarks from President Eric M. Friedman.

“My students come from every possible background,” he said. “I can get all of them to graduation, but it takes extra supports. Cutting our operational funds means cutting a lifeline.”

Studying political science at Bergen, Quezada took the opportunity to explain to the legislators how the College has changed her life.

“Attending community college would be one of my best life decisions,” she said. “But my story is just one among many success stories and Bergen Community College. I truly believe if it weren’t for this assistance, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Before concluding her remarks, Quezada reiterated how restoring $20 million for community colleges made good sense in the state’s $55.9 billion budget. The appropriation amounts to .04 percent.

She closed her testimony by letting the legislators know “we are worth the investment.”

Watch Quezada’s testimony and President Eric Friedman’s testimony.

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.

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