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Spotlight on the Class of 2018

Rebecca Girardin

Associate in Arts Degree
Liberal Arts /Studio Art
Phi Theta Kappa
Honors Program

Artist and Poet Gained a Fresh Start at PCCC

Posted May 7, 2018

Like many artists, Rebecca Girardin has an affinity for darkness, using her creative talents to explore and cope with the sad and painful times in life.

When Becca, as she is known, entered PCCC in September 2016, she was just emerging from a dark period of her life that affected her high school performance.

“I was a good student up through eighth grade,” said the West Milford resident. “But I had a difficult time in high school due to a bullying situation. “I had anxiety, didn’t want to go to classes, and couldn’t focus,” she said.

Coming to PCCC helped this once bright student to shine again. “My experience at PCCC has been awesome,” said Becca. “I love it here.”

This month, Becca will graduate with her Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/ Studio Art.  She maintains a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the Honors Program as well as the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“Being at PCCC really pushed me,” said Becca, who attends classes at the Wanaque campus.  “The professors are so nice. They reach out to you and support you.”  

She cited as an example Marc Yeung, a math professor who is also advisor to the Honors Program. 
“I was in Professor Yeung’s math class when he reached out and encouraged me to join the Honors Program,” she said.  “I really appreciated that my PCCC professors believed in me. That helped me to believe in myself.”

At first, Becca did not want to attend a two-year college, but she was persuaded to try PCCC by her brother, Richard Girardin, who graduated as valedictorian in the Class of 2009.

“I had big shoes to fill when I came here,” said Becca, laughing. “I knew what my brother accomplished at PCCC, and that kept me accountable.”

Becca likes the friendly atmosphere at Wanaque and the fact that the campus is close to her home and to her job as an event planner for a children’s party business.

She also enjoyed the small class size. “My art class with Professor (Mary) Dajnak had only 10 students,”  said Becca. “We received close attention from the professor and learned so much more.”

The freedom to pursue self-directed projects in the Honors Program was another plus for this artist/ poet who often combines disciplines in her work, as she did in a recent honors project.

An aspiring interior designer, Becca designed a bedroom based on the poem Night, by William Blake, the 19th century English artist and poet. (See below)

“I like the way interior design and a poem can connect,” said Becca.  “They both have structure, even when the poem is abstract.”

She frequently writes poems to accompany her own artworks, which include paintings, paper cutting, and photography.   In fact, while taking a creative writing class with Professor Mark Hillringhouse, who is also both a poet and art photographer, Becca composed a poem called River Fog that was inspired by his photograph of the same name. (See below)

“A lot of my writing is short and dark,” said Becca.  She considers Blake to be one of her strongest influences and is also drawn to the work of Emily Dickinson whose poems “remind me of some of my photos,” she said.

Writing has been therapeutic for the young woman. In 2016, she published a collection of poems written during her high school years to cope with her unhappiness and to illustrate how her Christian faith enabled her to emerge from that challenging time with hope.

Titled, Winter Skeleton, the book was called “an impressive debut collection of poetry,” by Alicia Cook, a New Jersey-based author of a best-selling poetry book and another of Becca’s favorite poets.

Radiating a calm confidence, Becca is optimistic about her future. She plans to enter a bachelor’s degree program this summer at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, New Jersey.  “Berkeley has a great interior design program and a friendly atmosphere,” she said. 

Her dream is to design schools in which “everything serves a useful purpose,” a goal that was inspired by a visit to Kean University where she noticed that some of the walls were made of corkboard.  “I thought that was a really great idea for a school,” she said.

As a third Girardin sibling, one of Becca’s younger twin sisters, is set to enter PCCC in September, Becca
considers what the past two years have meant to her.  “PCCC provided me with the opportunity to have a fresh start and make quality friends. I feel so much more mature now.”


Winter Skeleton:
A Poetry Chapbook
Published 2016  by Createspace

Cover design by Becca Girardin


Honors Program Project for English
Composition Class
Heavenly Bower:  A bedroom design based on William Blake’s poem Night.
(read the poem)


River Fog

by Becca Girardin*
Thin black branches
Resting in reflections.
Cross-hatching limbs to twigs.
The bending trunks look like broken ribs.
I drift away with the white space,
And the quiet bursts of River Fog.

*Based on the photograph River Fog
by Mark Hillringhouse (right)