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Opportunity Knocks



Opportunity Knocks
As a professor at Bergen Community College (BCC), Anne Maganzini, Ph.D., TMC ’70, GSAS ’72 and ’75, has a lot of roles—and countless chances to help shape students’ lives.

“You have a lot of opportunities,” said Maganzini, who has served as a professor of psychology at the Paramus, N.J., school for 38 years and recently ended a stint as director of the college’s Honors Program. “Community colleges provide a gateway to more education.
They increase awareness of the importance of education. And there is also a big emphasis on what many schools refer to as lifelong learning.

“The ability to meet a lot of these different types of needs and come up with alternatives is one of the strengths of community colleges.” 

And it’s one of the things that drew Maganzini to the job.

“Because of the state of the economy, we’ve seen a much bigger shift toward traditional college-aged students in the last couple of years,” said Maganzini. “I always tell my students, if you transfer to a four-year school, there’s not going to be an asterisk on your diploma that says ‘By the way, I did my first two years at Bergen Community College.’”

In recent years, community colleges have increased in popularity, both for traditional and nontraditional students. Today, the average age of a community college student is roughly the same as the average age of a student enrolled in four-year colleges or universities. What’s more, a 2011 College Decision Impact Survey, which asked 21,000 high school seniors about their college plans and priorities from 2009 to 2011, found that between 20 and 30 percent consider beginning their studies at a community or a two-year college before transferring to a four-year institution.

At the same time, many four-year institutions now have articulation agreements or joint programs with community colleges, where students can earn credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

This is even more common for students in honors programs, like Maganzini’s at BCC, which has recently expanded to include both general education honors courses and special classes, including the Psychology of Women, a recent class Maganzini offered her students.

Community colleges also challenge students through special programs, such as conferences specifically designed for students from two-year institutions, where they present papers—just as graduate students do at similar academic conferences.

Maganzini has supported several students through these programs. One of her students, who later enrolled at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, was chosen as a finalist for “Outstanding Presenter” at one such conference.

Though most students who participate in these programs are honors students, these opportunities are open to all.

“It’s a very positive experience for the students to go and do that,” Maganzini said. “It gives them a feel for what things might be like. And students often then go on not just to complete their bachelor’s degree, but it also gets them on the road to sometimes thinking about going on for a master’s or even a Ph.D.”

Maganzini began teaching at BCC while she was still completing her doctoral degree at Fordham. At the time, BCC featured only a few honors courses; it didn’t have an official honors program.

Though she always knew she wanted to teach, she didn’t realize she wanted to teach at the college-level until she took a pedagogy class at Fordham for nonclinical psychology students. Under the tutelage of William C. Bier, S.J., a former chair of the Department of Psychology at Fordham, she was able to teach a few undergraduate classes.

“The seminar with Father Bier had to be one of the all time best,” said Maganzini. “To this day I have never met another faculty member wherever I’ve gone who ever had anything like this course.”

Maganzini taught several classes at Fordham College at Rose Hill and Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies, formerly known as the College of Liberal Studies, before joining the faculty at BCC, where she also serves on the college’s Honors Committee and co-founded its Academic Advising Center. She is also a member of the recently renamed Judith K. Winn School of Honors Task Force.

“Fordham gave me a lot of opportunities to actually teach courses,” she said. “It was really a phenomenal experience.” 

And now Maganzini gives her own students plenty of opportunities at BCC.

“There are a lot of other nontraditional educational opportunities at the community college level,” she said. “[The goal] is making people aware of what’s out there.”

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