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Bergen Community College students will earn certifications that will help them learn how to make their future workplaces more inclusive.

Bergen Community College students will earn certifications that will help them learn how to make their future workplaces more inclusive.

PARAMUS, N.J. – The Oradell office of POWER Engineers and the company’s charitable foundation have awarded Bergen Community College a $15,000 grant to support student diversity initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The grant will create a “POWER Scholars” program at the College that will enable STEM students to complete certifications in diversity, equity and inclusion best practices. Bergen represents a “majority minority” institution, including 42 percent of students self-identifying as Hispanic or Latino, and remains committed to supporting initiatives that contribute to its growing diversity.

“By providing students with the right tools and training, we will ensure these future leaders can create and foster equitable and inclusive working environments,” Bergen STEM Director Luis De Abreu said. “We are excited to see them infuse their training during their work and team dynamics and hope to replicate this model with other partner organizations that are willing to invest in the College’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.”

Under Bergen President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., the College has sought to enhance inclusivity, including creating the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dean of Mathematics, Science and Technology Emily Vandalovsky, Ed.D., said the grant will contribute to these efforts and add even greater depth to the College’s nationally recognized STEM program.

“As a lead institution of the Research & Development Center for Workforce Innovation under NJ PATHWAYS initiatives, Bergen plays an integral part in creating and maintaining an inclusive and equitable STEM ecosystem,” she said. “By engaging with industry partners and establishing programs like POWER Scholars, the STEM division further promotes its role of educating a diverse and knowledgeable workforce of tomorrow.”

Funded by the POWER Foundation, the non-profit arm of global engineering and environmental firm POWER Engineers, the company’s Oradell office recommended Bergen for the award. POWER Foundation Board President John Kumm said the program will assist in making the industry more inclusive.

“It’s not just helping these students get certifications,” he said. “This program will empower these students to use the skills they learn to impact so many more people in STEM industries.”

The recruitment process for the first round of POWER Scholars began this month and training will take place during the College’s spring semester.

More than 2,000 students enroll in Bergen’s STEM offerings each year. Among its resources, Bergen features the nation’s only STEM Student Research Center of its kind at a community college. The facility features large “showcase” windows that enable observation from outside the center, a drones/robotics wing, a MakerSpace and mini-course classroom. Past student-led projects have included converting a softball field house into a workshop, high-altitude balloon launches, retrofitting a gas combustion truck and motorcycle into electric vehicles and conducting experimental testing with wind turbines and solar panels.

POWER Engineers, an engineering and environmental consulting firm specializing in integrated solutions for clients in the power delivery, power generation, food and beverage, government, renewables and storage, campus energy, and oil and gas industries, has 50 offices and more than 3,500 employees in North America. For more information, visit www.powereng.com.

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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