“Dr. Mina Ahn is an outstanding professor who deserves credit for her hard work as an educator and as a community activist,” Bergen County Executive Tedesco said. “We were honored to recognize her and look forward to watching her grow into an even bigger role model and inspiration to our students. Bergen Community College and its students are fortunate to have her.”
Ahn, of Ridgewood, who teaches psychology, remains active in enhancing the institution’s relationship with the Korean population in Bergen County. According to the federal government, Bergen contains – by percentage of the overall population – each of the top 10 municipalities in the United States for Korean-Americans. The College enrolls 357 students with Korean citizenship – the highest number of students from any country other than the United States.
“It’s an honor,” Professor Ahn said. “But I don’t consider it as a personal achievement, really. It’s an acknowledgement of the College and what we’re doing for the Korean-American community.”
In the spring, Ahn and Professor Kil Yi, Ph.D., launched a program featuring a series of lectures on American history, government and politics for members of the Tenafly-based Korean Community Center. Ahn and Yi developed the program with the center’s CEO, Eunju Ryu, which provided lectures on topics such as “Culture of Prosperity,” “Culture of Inequality” and “Culture of Progress” for 150 center members. Participants – many of whom emigrated to the United States during the last 50 years – each received a certificate of completion during an end-of-semester celebration.
Due to the success of the initiative, the College plans to expand the model to other demographic, ethnic and cultural groups by creating additional learning community programs. Ahn remains proud of the partnership.
“The Korean community wants to learn,” she said. “One of the most gratifying experiences is that when I arrive in classes, the students are just waiting for me – beaming – and so passionate about learning. It’s not something they have to do – it’s something they want to do.”
The College once again partnered with the Korean center to host “NJSeoul: New Art from the Korean Diaspora” in Gallery Bergen, which features the work of 15 artists of Korean descent. The gallery, located on the third floor of West Hall, 400 Paramus Road at the main campus, will remain on view through Thursday, Oct. 31; regular hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.
Also this semester, the College has offered its first courses taught in the Korean language – a major step, according to Ahn.
“They’ve been very successful so far and we’re expanding the classes in the spring,” she said.
Ahn has worked at the College since 2007. She earned a B.A. at the University of California, Riverside and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She co-authored “What might have been: The social psychology of counterfactual thinking” and previously worked as a research analyst at Young and Rubicam, an advertising and media firm in New York.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 14,000 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.