From classroom to campus to community, Brookdale students have a knack for making an impact on the world around them. This year’s Student Achievement Showcase, held April 14 in the Student Life Center, featured dozens of Brookdalians were able to build, create and achieve amazing things during the 2015-16 school year.
From the STEM Institute, Brookdale STEM fellows Chloe Baker, Nick Marcouiller, Felix Perelmuter and Anthony Pompili presented their year-long research and development projects, each of which were sponsored by NASA and the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium.
From Baker’s research into the sediment respiration of salt marshes and Marcouiller’s creation of an automated, light-activated window curtain to Perelmuter’s research into the ideal form of compost and Pompili’s custom built game for iOS devices, each student proved why they were selected for the unique STEM Fellowship program.
Representatives from the Brookdale Honors Program participated in a panel discussion on the challenges, logistics and benefits of becoming an honor student, as well as the opportunities available to all Brookdale students who choose to take advantage of them.
“You hear people say that Brookdale is the 13th grade, and it’s not. It’s really not,” said honor student Alex Karn, who plans to pursue a career in law. “Brookdale can be whatever you make of it.”
Those sentiments were echoed by fellow panel members Mona Patel, Julianna Masco and Sameerah Wahab, who was recently named one of the top 20 community college students in the country as a member of the All-USA Academic Team.
“Success is possible here,” said Wahab. “There is so much opportunity for growth, so many ways you can have an impact and chase down what you want in life. My advice is to take advantage of it.”
The annual showcase featured a wide range of students who had done just that, from members of The Innovation Network – who spent the last year working on campus-wide greening initiatives while co-hosting community art shows in support of Habitat for Humanity – to the inaugural members of Brookdale’s new chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS).
Students Bradlee Williams, Victor De Los Santos and Mary Heleotis presented on behalf of the more than 400 new members of the NSLS chapter, explaining how the first cohort has already spent thousands of hours networking, watching expert presentations and honing skills that will set them apart both now and in the future.
“You are working with people who want more for you than you want for yourself,” said De Los Santos. “I get such drive and ambition just talking to them. Last night I was on the phone with them until about two in the morning, just talking to them about what we wanted to do. This has sparked something in us that just changes everything. I’m so excited.”
Other showcases highlighted students’ various areas of expertise, including Christina Pitio’s presentation on Vikings, Anna Dinnocenzo and Lisa Melendy’s presentation on medical ethics and assisted suicide, and Mark DeYoung’s discussion of how photography had changed his life.
“Before I joined the Marine Corps, I lost my father. My psyche was kind of broken, and being on post in Afghanistan I was thinking about it a lot,” said DeYoung, an aspiring photographer who showcased some of the composite, landscape and photo-journalism images he has worked on as a Brookdale student.
“One of the reasons I chose photography is so that I can see life differently. Photography allows you to see the world in a new way. When I got out, I lost my mother to cancer, so it kind of drove me even further into photography and away from everything else. If I didn’t have a camera, I don’t know where I would be. It’s just one of those things that can open up the world for you.”
The Achievement Showcase featured dozens of presentations throughout the afternoon, along with large crowds of students and employees who stopped by to listen.
According to showcase organizer and associate languages professor Deborah DeBlasio, the annual program is designed to bring the Brookdale community together and expose students and faculty to new ideas, programs and the “vast array of talent” found across the college.
“It’s really wonderful,” said DeBlasio. “And it’s so diverse. The showcase gives everyone an opportunity to appreciate things we didn’t even know were going on. When you see all of these faculty members and staff members and students come out to support the presenters – that’s what it’s all about.”
View more photos from the 2016 Student Achievement Showcase here.