A Year of Honors, Awards in 2016-2017

Monday, August 28, 2017
PTK officers at regional convention

Raritan Valley Community College was celebrated for its many accomplishments during the 2016-2017 academic year. The College received national—and even international—recognition in such areas as service to the community, environmental stewardship, diversity and leadership initiatives, efforts to assist veterans, student projects and more. Following are some highlights of the year’s prestigious honors for RVCC:

RVCC Ranked Top Community College in NJ

RVCC was given top honors in 2017 by BestColleges.com in its annual list of the best colleges and universities. The website ranked RVCC as the best community college in New Jersey.

RVCC Named to President’s Community Service Honor Roll

In recognition of the College’s leadership role in serving the local community, RVCC was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll “With Distinction” this past fall. RVCC was the only community college in the country to be recognized “With Distinction” in the Education category and was one of only two colleges in the state, and the only community college in NJ, to be recognized “With Distinction” in the General Community Service category. Since the Honor Roll was launched, RVCC has been named to the list every year and first achieved the honor “With Distinction” in 2006.

Student Honored as Newman Civic Fellow

Kristine Bulava, a Business Administration major, was named a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact in April. Bulava was one of 273 students from across the country selected for the honor. As Vice President of Scholarship and Service for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Bulava organized fundraising events for the hungry and displaced. While serving as President of RVCC’s Enactus club, she taught disadvantaged youth how to operate a small business and offered financial seminars and college completion workshops. One of Bulava’s most successful projects was Plant 2 End Hunger, which provided a sustainable food source for those in need through a local community garden.

RVCC Named to Victory Media’s Military Friendly® Schools List

RVCC earned the 2017 Military Friendly® School designation in February by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM JobsSM and Military Spouse. Approximately 100 military and veteran students currently receive benefits at RVCC. The College offers military members and veterans a streamlined admissions process with an on-site dedicated veteran advisor available throughout the admissions, testing and registration processes, as well as an orientation program to discuss veteran benefits and resources. RVCC participates in TA, MYCAA, NJ National Guard Waiver, and GI Bill educational benefit programs.

Dean Honored by National Diversity Publication

Dr. Patrice Gouveia Marks, who currently serves as RVCC’s Dean of Liberal Arts, Accreditation Liaison Officer, was honored in February with the 2017 Giving Back Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The award honors college and university administrators and deans who go above and beyond their everyday leadership duties and “give back” to their campuses and communities. Dr. Marks was the only award recipient from a New Jersey college or university this year. Giving Back Award recipients were nominated by their colleagues and selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity based on their outstanding demonstration of social responsibility; involvement with students, faculty, staff and the community; and commitment to serving underrepresented populations.

Sustainability Efforts Recognized

For the second year in a row, RVCC was lauded for its campus sustainability efforts by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The College was recognized in October as a top performer in the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index, ranking fourth in the country in the “Associate’s Colleges” category. The College received a Silver rating for its efforts. RVCC achieved top performer status by earning a high score overall, particularly in the Coordination and Planning, Waste, and Air and Climate categories. Its Silver rating reflects its agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, its comprehensive recycling programs, and a 51 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on campus since 2005.

Student Named Academic Team Gold Scholar

RVCC student Emily Stratton was named a 2017 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar in March. The Academic Team program, administered by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, recognizes 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze Scholars and provides nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each Gold Scholar receives a $1,500 scholarship and a special medallion. Stratton, a Human Services/Pre-Social Work major at RVCC, plans to transfer to Rutgers University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Phi Theta Kappa Chapter Wins Awards

RVCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter advisors Sara Banfield and Steve Schwarz received the Distinguished Advisor Team award at the organization’s international convention in April. The chapter also won the International Honors in Action Award for its prison membership initiative, which was largely responsible for the organization changing its bylaws to allow currently incarcerated and paroled students to join Phi Theta Kappa. Only 30 out of more than 1,000 chapters received the honor.

RVCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter also won several awards, including recognition for its Honors in Action Project, at the Middle States Regional Convention in March. The Honors in Action piece focused on the responsibility of society to provide rehabilitation to prisoners. The chapter earned several additional honors, including Distinguished Officer Team, Distinguished Advisor Team, Continued Excellence Advisor Award, and the Honors in Action Theme Award. Chapter President Aynesley Arthur and Vice President of Leadership Jeshua Rodriguez also were named to the Middle States Officer Hall of Fame.

Enactus Team Honored at National, Regional Competitions

The RVCC Enactus team placed third in the opening round of May’s Enactus USA 2017 National Exposition, placing the group in the top 10 percent of teams in the United State. The RVCC Enactus team also was named Regional League Champion for the eighth consecutive year at the Enactus Regional Competition in March. The Enactus members were honored for a “shake light” flashlight prototype created by the team’s engineering and business students. Partnering with local food banks, the Enactus team also worked with a cooperative purchasing model and raised funds to assist 500 families in the local community, providing over 31,000 meals. In addition, the team secured $5,000 in grants to purchase hydroponic towers in order to grow food indoors throughout the year. Enactus RVCC also has provided consulting services to small businesses, teaching youth how to run a bike shop, and helping local women build their social assets.