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Melissa Jara

PARAMUS, N.J. – Selected as one of only 10 winners among 1,500 applicants, Bergen Community College student Melissa Jara has earned the $9,000 2021 Motorola Solutions Foundation Engineering Scholar award from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Jara, of Hackensack, also receives a year-long SWE membership as part of the award.

“We are very excited to see that the hard work and talent of our STEM students is being recognized by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and the Society of Women Engineers,” Bergen STEMatics Grant Program Director Luis DeAbreu said. “The academic and professional qualities that Melissa possesses makes her a true scholar and a perfect fit for representing women pursuing a degree in this very challenging field of study.”

Jara, an engineering major, graduated this month and will transfer to Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She aspires to earn a Ph.D. in engineering technology and become a researcher and developer of innovative systems to aid those with special needs. Inspired by her participation and membership in the PepsiCo Women’s mentorship and the New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar Programs, she hopes to serve as a teacher, tutor and mentor for high school students, especially young women, to foster an interest in the engineering field.

As an international student who came to the United States after graduating high school in Cuenca, Ecuador, Jara enrolled in Bergen and soon became an active member of the campus community. She completed three STEM internships in two years while also serving as vice president of projects in the STEM student union. There, Jara monitored the progress of all projects and helped support her peers’ research by organizing and facilitating communication between research teams and also conducting her own research projects in electrical and mechanical engineering.

Jara retained membership in Phi Theta Kappa, the Judith K. Winn School of Honors and the Active Minds Organization. Jara previously earned three Bergen Community College Foundation scholarships as well.

“I’m so elated to have been chosen by the Society of Women Engineers to receive the 2021 Motorola Solutions Foundation Engineering scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year and for the opportunity to become their new female STEM icon to encourage all young women in their pursuit of math and science education,” she said. “After all, it is only by serving as role models ourselves that we encourage others to follow a similar path.”

To learn about Bergen’s STEM program, visit https://bergen.edu/stem/. To learn about the Society of Women Engineers, visit swe.org.

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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