44th Annual Commencement

Spotlight on Our

Emelita Bardzell

Associate in Science Degree in Health Science

Awards and Honors

  • Graduates with Honors 
  • Honors Program 
  • Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), former officer 
  • Who’s Who Among Students in American
    Colleges and Universities (2014, 2015) 
  • Dean’s List (Spring, Fall 2012) 
  • Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship 
  • New Jersey Nursing Students, Inc. Scholarship (2015, 2016) 
  • Garden State National Association of
    Hispanic Nurses Scholarship (2015, 2016) 
  • Martin and Estelle Rose Memorial Scholarship 
  • Verizon Scholarship 
  • World Organization for Positive Action Scholarships

Her Father’s Death Revived Her Dreams of a Medical Career

When Emelita Bardzell was growing up in the Philippines, she was fascinated by the medical field.  “In fourth grade, I decided to become a doctor,”she said. 
But over the years, Emelita pursued a business career, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the College of the Holy Spirit in Manila and working for the Bank of the Philippines (BPI) and Citibank.

It was a personal tragedy years later that revived her early desire for a medical career. “My father had a heart attack and I tried to give him CPR,” said Emelita, who was uncertain about CPR procedure. Her father did not survive, but that experience awakened her. “I decided then,  I wanted to fulfill my earlier dream and be able to save lives.”
Now working toward a nursing career, the Rutherford resident will graduate May 19 in PCCC’s 44th Commencement with her Associate in Applied Science Degree in Health Science. In June, she will complete a second degree at PCCC, the Associate in Arts Degree in Sociology.  “I like being able to understand others and learn about their societies and cultures,” said Emelita.
She will pursue her bachelor’s degree in nursing, though she hasn’t yet applied to any specific programs. “At this point in my life,” said the busy mother of two young daughters, “becoming an MD did not seem realistic. I think nursing is a better choice.”
When Emelita came to the U.S, in 1996, before her father’s death, she had left the banking field and worked in the business side of healthcare, including three years as a practice coordinator and practice manager for Columbia University Department of Medicine, performing administrative tasks such as accounting and medical billing. “I helped patients,” she said, “but always wished I could help them in a healing way.
Emelita earned a certificate in medical billing and coding at Bergen Community College and later enrolled in PCCC’s Health Information Technology program. One of the first courses she took was Anatomy and Physiology. “I fell so in love with that class,” she said. “Other students told me I should become a nurse.”

Those words came back to mind when Emelita’s father died during one of her visits back to the Philippines to visit family. Upon her return to the U.S., she switched her major to nursing.  She completed four semesters before more family challenges arose, delaying her progress.
Determined to graduate this May, Emelita switched her major to health science, a degree program she could qualify to complete in time.  “This was a good option, but this is just a pause in my nursing career, not an end,” she said.
Though excited about her future, Emelita is also sad about leaving PCCC. “We are like a family here,” she said. “The College is very diverse and has so much to offer.”
A member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Emelita participated in the 2016 PTK International Convention last month in Maryland where she carried the New Jersey flag in the opening ceremony. She also participated in the Parade of Scholars as a Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship Award is geared toward healthcare students.
Emelita also participated in Phi Theta Kappa's Speech Competition.
“I learned that public speaking can be enjoyable, especially when you see the judges smile at you the moment you started speaking,” she said. “I will always cherish that experience even though I did not win.”
The Kappan was pleased that at the convention, she “strengthened the camaraderie with students from other chapters, and gained a whole new network of people from across the nation.”  The experience, she said, “taught me the importance of fellowship, leadership, and service.”

Her other scholarship awards include the Verizon Scholarship, World Organization for Positive Action (WOPA) scholarship, Martin and Estelle Rose Memorial Scholarship and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses(NAHN) /Garden State Chapter Scholarship. For two consecutive years, Emelita won the New Jersey Nursing Students (NJNS) Scholarship Award.  She anticipates receiving the Jeanette Rankin Foundation Scholarship, to help fund studies toward a bachelor’s degree, and is also one of 85 semi-finalists, out of a field of 2300 nationwide, for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship for community college students transferring into a bachelor’s degree program.
In addition, Emelia was selected for the 2016 International Scholar Laureate Program which offers participants the opportunity to explore their chosen fields in a global context. Emelita would learn how the nursing or healthcare industries work in either Australia, or South Africa.

Happy to be making her childhood dream come true, Emelita recalled the clinical experiences she had through her PCCC classes. “I loved interacting with patients and even enjoyed watching surgeries in the OR. I was fascinated,” she said. “ 
“It is amazing how you can use your knowledge, compassion, and skills in making people better."