ecuador 1ecuador 4When a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South American nation of Ecuador on April 16, it didn’t take long for Essex County College to mobilize a collection effort to assist the survivors.


Dubbed the Ecuador Relief Effort, the two week volunteer initiative resulted in the collection of $1,238 in cash which will be used to purchase medical and other supplies. Also collected was a wide range of non-perishable items such as baby formula, disposable diapers, clothing, blankets, sheets, air mattress and toiletries.


“I think what was so great about this experience was how the College and community came together as a team to make this work,” said Sonia Rios-Cardoso, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services who spearheaded the effort. “We all felt the pain and wanted to make a difference.”


Students and staff contributed both cash and non-perishable items. Other staff members instrumental to the effort were Rosa Reyes (Purchasing), Angie Gonzalez (Enrollment Services), Yuri Bisono (Retention & Academic Advisement), Dr. Christopher Rivera (Humanities Division chair), the Graphics Department and Jayson Hull (Student Life).


Ms. Rios-Cardoso noted local businesses Greenline Limo of West Orange and Family Choice Physical Therapy of Clifton also participated in the effort.


Once the items were collected, they were delivered to a site in Newark for shipment to Ecuador.



Posted in Essex County College News
Ernest Dimbo at 2015 Commencement

Ernest Dimbo at 2015 Commencement

Ernest Dimbo, the Valedictorian for the Class of 2015, is the College’s latest recipient of the $120,000 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship. Ernest learned of the honor during the Essex County College Scholarship Awards Night program on May 18 when he was invited to introduce some of the top students of the Class of 2016.


But instead, Acting Dean Carlos Rivera (Business, Industry & Government) announced that Ernest is the recipient of the prestigious Cooke prize, offering $40,000 a year for three years. Essex has had 14 recipients since 2006 and 11 in the past five years.  He is one of 75 recipients nationally out of more than 2,000 applicants.


“I’m so lucky,” said Ernest, who graduated at the top of his class with an Associate in Science in Biology, Pre-Medicine. “Essex County College has done so much for me,” added the 20-year-old Bloomfield resident who unsuccessfully applied for the scholarship last year.


Ernest was planning to attend Boston University this fall to study molecular and cell biology. He is still heading there, but with the knowledge that all his costs will be covered. “This changes everything; last week I was talking about student loans but now I have this wonderful scholarship.”


Since his Essex graduation, Ernest traveled to Spain for a stem cell conference, participated in the New Jersey Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Scholars program, and tutored at the College.  He is especially proud that two of the five high school students he mentored in the state program will attend Stanford and MIT respectively, this fall.


His career goals include earning a medical degree and his doctorate. He is particularly interested in stem cell research and how it can be applied to the development of organs for transplants. “By cultivating organs, people will not have to wait for months and even years for badly needed transplants.”


Dr. Alvin Williams, Acting Dean of STEM & Health Sciences at Essex, said Ernest has had an amazing journey from Valedictorian to Jack Kent Cooke scholar. “He is an outstanding credit to himself, his area of study and our College as a whole. The fact that he reapplied for the award shows his persistence in reaching his goals,” Dr. Williams said.


Ernest graduated from high school in Lagos, Nigeria when he was only 14. His family came to the United States seeking a better life. Taking advantage of the College’s opportunities, Ernest became a member and officer in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and participated in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program in conjunction with the National Science Foundation.


“This is a huge opportunity for me.” He noted there is no time limit for something good to happen and this award is a perfect example of that.


The Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees.


“Many elite colleges and universities are reluctant to admit large numbers of transfer students from community colleges, even when these students have excellent grades and other qualifications,” said Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy. “This is unfair and unwise. The Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have a long record of success at the most selective colleges and graduate schools, such as the Ivy League in the United States and the University of Oxford in Great Britain. These extraordinary young people have proven repeatedly and conclusively that top community college students have the ability to thrive in top four-year colleges. They deserve equal educational opportunity.”



Posted in Essex County College News

The Africana Institute at Essex County College will present the 4th Pan African Drumfest and African Marketplace Saturday, May 21 at the Newark campus. The free celebration will be held from 12 noon to 5 p.m.


“The Institute is striving to convene the largest drum circle in New Jersey history,” said Dr. Akil Khalfani, director of the Africana Institute. He said a new Djembe drum will be given away at the event, courtesy of Sheps Hetep Ancestral Music, New York.


Scheduled guests include performers from the Zawadi School of African Dance, New Jersey Steel Rhythms, Khalid’s Custom Drums and Folilaye African Drum & Dance Company.


The program is also honoring the work of local educator and performer of African folklore and dance “Mama” Katunge Mimy. The retired educator formerly taught at Essex County College.


The activities will start outside at the campus’ corner with University Avenue and West Market Street. It will then move inside to the College’s Mary Burch Theater. The African Marketplace will be held outside.


Additional information is available at (973) 877-3219 or


May marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Africana Institute. The Institute was dedicated in a ceremony featuring an appearance by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the King of the Asante Kingdom of Ghana.


The Africana Institute is the College’s center for the exploration and critical examination of the global African experience. The Institute provides research opportunities and resources for students and the community.  World renowned African and African diaspora scholars, performers, activists and others  visit the College for lectures, workshops, exhibits, and performances.


Posted in Essex County College News