FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2009
Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
201-291-1111, ext. 5122
BERKELEY COLLEGE NEW YORK
OUTSTANDING STUDENT OF THE YEAR
IS STRONG ADVOCATE FOR THOSE IN NEED
ESTHER GROSS RECOGNIZED AT BERKELEY COLLEGE
Berkeley College is proud to recognize the achievements of Esther Gross, a resident of Manhattan, NY, by presenting her with the New York Robert Maher Outstanding Student Award for 2009. Ms. Gross, who completed her Bachelor in Business Administration degree, received the award during the Berkeley College 2009 Commencement Ceremony held on April 24 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.
The Robert Maher Outstanding Student Award is presented annually to a member of the graduating class who has met high standards of academic excellence while overcoming personal, professional, or financial obstacles. Student recommendations come from faculty and staff with the final decision made by the Office of Student Development and Campus Life.
“The highest honor bestowed upon a Berkeley College graduate is the Robert Maher Award,” said Michael J. Baston, JD, Berkeley College Dean, Student Development and Campus Life, New York. “Each year a committee of faculty and administrators chooses a recipient who understands the value of education and demonstrates the tenacity and persistence to improve under difficult circumstances. Esther has overcome many challenges to excel as a student, a leader, and a mentor.”
The daughter of struggling immigrants, Ms. Gross was born in the Dominican Republic and brought to the United States when she was a year old. Early on she learned that “you can’t sit back and watch injustice.” At 18, Ms. Gross began advocating for higher education and marched through the streets of New York City for school funding. In her 20s she was elected Vice Chair of the New York City Housing Residence Alliance. In this role she worked to educate the public on their legal rights in housing, accompanied them to housing court, and encouraged elected officials to vote against housing laws that could adversely affect low-income families. Currently, she serves as Executive Vice President of The Wise Tower Tenant Association and also volunteers as a translator and interpreter for those in need of those services in her community.
Ms. Gross is a recipient of the Good Neighbor Award from the Goddard Riverside not-for-profit organization that runs senior and daycare centers as well as after-school programs. In conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office and the 24th Precinct, she runs “For Your Eyes Only,” a workshop that educates parents about cyber crimes, and oversees “Losing My Freedom,” a community program that encourages at-risk adolescents and young adults to refrain from committing crimes.
Ms. Gross was working as an Account Executive in the Billing Department of Media Distribution Services in 2006 when she decided to quit her job and go back to school.
“I had been with the company for 12 years, and many people thought I was crazy in taking that risk,” Ms. Gross says. “It was my daughter who reminded me that I was an advocate for education, and that I should practice what I preach.”
While at Berkeley College Ms. Gross was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society and was one of 16 students selected to speak with Under Secretary of the US Department of Education Sara Martinez Tucker when she visited Berkeley College NYC Midtown Campus in 2007. Ms. Gross says her most rewarding college experience was serving as part of the Senior Mentor program.
“As a mentor I heard stories that would tear anyone’s heart apart,” she says. “I am glad I was there to encourage younger students to continue with their studies, but the truth is that they really saved me. They gave me the strength to continue and to go further than I ever knew I could.”
A leader in business education for 78 years, Berkeley College maintains an enrollment of over 7,200 students, with more than 700 international students in its Baccalaureate and Associate degree programs. The College has two New York campuses in Midtown Manhattan and White Plains, an Extension Center in Lower Manhattan in the Wall Street area, and four New Jersey campuses located in Woodland Park (formerly West Paterson), Paramus, Woodbridge, and Newark. In addition, the College offers Berkeley College Online™ and its Corporate Learning Partnership program. All campuses are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The College’s website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.
Photo Caption: Berkeley College recognized the achievements of Esther Gross, a resident of Manhattan, NY, by presenting her with the New York Robert Maher Outstanding Student Award for 2009. Ms. Gross, who completed her Bachelor in Business Administration degree, received the award from Berkeley College President Dario Cortes, PhD, during the Berkeley College 2009 Commencement Ceremony held on April 24 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.