Just like many high school students and their families, choosing a college was confusing for Rhonda Stanbridge-Richardsen. This was especially true because her parents did not pursue education beyond an associate’s degree. Even though Rhonda was eligible for the NJ STARS program, the negative perception about community college and the lack of financial guidance from school counselors led her to make a decision she categorizes as – “not very productive.” After graduating high school in Vernon, Stanbridge-Richardsen enrolled in Colorado State University and became the first member of her family to attend a university. She said, “Although it was a great experience that diversified my perspective, the financial reality set in quickly.” After a year in Colorado, she felt her best option was to move back to New Jersey and continue her education utilizing the NJ STARS program. To cut commute time down and to take full advantage of campus offerings, she decided to live with her grandparents to attend Bergen Community College as a Bergen County resident.
Stanbridge-Richardsen approached Bergen with a goal to get the most out of it as possible. She said, “I signed up for honors courses during my first semester and was immediately introduced to professors who encouraged me to fulfill my potential and become involved in student activities on campus. I started mentoring students with intellectual disabilities through the Turning Point Program and joined numerous clubs.” As she became a student leader, she began to feel that “it is [her] goal to engage other students like [herself], to take advantage of the amazing programs offered.”
After being inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the College’s international honor society, Stanbridge-Richardsen was soon elected as President of Alpha Epsilon Phi chapter. Thanks to the support of Bergen’s faculty and administration, she and her peers were able to implement various projects focusing on college completion, personal professional development, and community service. “I never imagined that education could have such a transformative effect on one’s life,” said Stanbridge-Richardsen.
In 2015, Stanbridge-Richardsen was one of only 20 students to be named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team. She also was one of 50 students in the U.S. who won the 2015 New Jersey Coca-Cola New Century Scholar Award. More than 1,700 students were nominated from more than 1,000 community colleges for recognition. Judges considered grades, leadership, activities and, most importantly, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. New Century Scholars are the highest scoring students in each state, which made Stanbridge-Richardsen the best college student in New Jersey.
At Commencement 2015, Stanbridge-Richardsen was one of 72 students who graduated with a 4.0 GPA and one of 38 students who earned a Dr. Judith K. Winn School of Honors and Phi Theta Kappa Dual Honors Award for both the honors program and PTK.
Stanbridge-Richardsen was able to continue to her bachelor’s degree with less financial hardship given the college continuation scholarships she received from Phi Theta Kappa, NJ STARS, and Seton Hall University for her involvement in both programs.
Stanbridge-Richardsen completed a Masters in Business Administration with Seton Hall University in 2021. She has worked for Becton Dickinson since 2017 and is currently living and working in Singapore as Talent Management & Development Manager for BD’s Greater Asia region.
- 2014-2015 Phi Theta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Phi Chapter President
- All USA Community College Academic Team Member
- Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Officer Team Member
- Phi Theta Kappa Middle States Officer Hall of Honors Recognition
- Phi Theta Kappa Joan C. Scrivani Award for Outstanding Service
- Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Leadership Award
- 2015 New Jersey All-State Academic Team Member
- 2015 New Jersey Coca-Cola New Century Scholar
- Bergen County Executive and Board of Chosen Freeholders Certificate of Commendation
- Ambassador to New Jersey’s Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma
- Judith K. Winn School of Honors & Phi Theta Kappa Dual Honors Award
- Phi Theta Kappa Graduate
- Graduated with a 4.0 GPA
- 2017 Seton Hall University, B.A. Psychology in Psychology, Minor in Business Administration
- 2021 Seton Hall University, Master of Business Administration, MBA Marketing
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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