PARAMUS, N.J – Bergen Community College academic coaches Mana Mehdizadeh (’23) and Daneiah Nasser, Ph.D., have earned the Association of Coaching and Tutoring Professionals Academic Coach of the Year Award. The honor recognizes the outstanding contributions of professional coaches from throughout the country. Academic coaching differs from tutoring in that it helps provide students with strategies that support them across their coursework, rather than in a single class.

“During their time as academic coaches, both Daneiah and Mana have demonstrated remarkable adaptability and initiative,” said Cerullo Learning Assistance Center Writing Center Supervisor John Findura, Ed.D., and Academic Coaching Supervisor Kelli Hayes in a co-signed statement. “Their dedication to students and to student success shines through in all of their work both at Bergen and beyond.”

The Bergen class of 2023 valedictorian, Mehdizadeh, of Nutley, has worked as a tutor since 2021. During that time, she has held a variety of roles in the nationally recognized Cerullo Learning Assistance Center, including peer tutor, professional tutor and academic coach. Among Mehdizadeh’s many accolades while studying at Bergen, she earned the Hites Transfer Scholarship and became a member of the New Jersey All-State Academic Team. She has also participated in Johns Hopkins University’s Humanities Collaboratory, an intensive in-person summer research experience funded through the Mellon Foundation Humanities for All Program. Mehdizadeh now attends Rutgers University where she studies biological sciences.

“This acknowledgment inspires me to continue fostering academic growth and empowering students to reach their fullest potential,” Mehdizadeh said. “I’m deeply grateful for the recognition and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in students’ lives.”

Nasser, of Kinnelon, has spent more than a decade at Bergen as a tutor, adjunct professor of history and academic coach. She has presented her research on blended learning methods and their use in teaching and learning at conferences throughout the world, including at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan. Drew University has published her work. In recognition of her overall excellence, the Cerullo Learning Assistance Center has previously recognized her with the Academic Coaching Excellence Award (May 2023), the Professional Writing Tutor Award (May 2020) and the Writing and Humanities Tutor Award (May 2016). Nasser holds a bachelor of arts in political science with a minor in pre-law and Arabic from Montclair University, a master of arts in law and governance with a concentration in conflict management and peace studies from Montclair State University and a doctor of philosophy in higher education from Capella University.

“I would like to thank the Cerullo Learning Assistance Center for allowing me to grow in my career,” she said. “It means a great deal to me that I have been able to be a driving force in the success of others.”

Nasser and Mehdizadeh will attend the ACTP annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina to accept their awards and small honorarium. Both will facilitate a presentation on academic coaching and give remarks at the annual awards luncheon as well.

Bergen has established a comprehensive academic coaching program as part of its tutoring center with the assistance of the State of New Jersey’s Opportunity Meets Initiative Challenge grant. During the last three years, 593 students have made 1,483 appointments for academic coaching.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, 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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