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PARAMUS, N.J. – The PepsiCo/Bergen Community College Women-in-STEM Mentorship Program received the 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes 78 colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The magazine’s staff selected honorees based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives.

“Having the opportunity to work with my colleague at PepsiCo, Gwen Darling, who volunteers tirelessly to this program function, and the wonderful mentors and mentees, has been one of the most satisfying parts of my career,” PepsiCo/Bergen Community College Mentorship Program Manager Barbara Abolafia said. “Mentoring levels the playing field by providing equity and access to knowledge, networking, and vision for young women who want to succeed in STEM careers. This is truly an invaluable endeavor.

Studies show that mentored young women have a higher percentage of college success and completion and remain 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions at their jobs. Bergen graduate Erin Moran (’19), a program mentee, remains grateful for the program.

“Being part of the PepsiCo mentorship program was an amazing experience,” she said. “If it wasn’t for my mentor, Ana, I would’ve not only dropped out of STEM, but I also would’ve dropped out of college. Ana was so encouraging, patient, and helpful with me. It’s because of her encouraging words that I was able to keep going.”

The PepsiCo/Bergen Community College Women-in-STEM mentoring partnership started in 2018 to help students persevere in their STEM courses and imagine their future in STEM fields. Past student mentees include honors graduates, Phi Theta Kappa scholarship winners, a valedictorian, a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship winner, a National Institute of Health intern, STEM honors interns and a NJ Governor’s STEM scholar. Mentors receive training through Million Women to offer guidance, support and encouragement to women as they pursue STEM careers.

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” INSIGHT Into Diversity Owner and Publisher Lenore Pearlstein said. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

For more information about the 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit

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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