PARAMUS, N.J. -- Hitting the books -- and the volleyball court -- at the same time can be a little rough for students, but Bergen Community College’s Nadia Vaso makes it look easy.
The 20-year-old Fort Lee resident just earned the 2015-16 John Stauff Female Scholar Athlete of the Year award, the first in the college’s history to do so, say BCC officials.
The award honors female students who excel in both sports and academics.
Because of a previous commitment to the honor society she belongs to, Phi Theta Kappa, Vaso wasn’t able to be present at the annual National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XIX awards gala last fall.
Her athletics director, Jorge Hernandez, accepted the award on her behalf.
A member of the Bulldogs volleyball team, Vaso also maintains a 4.0 GPA.
The recipient of the NJCAA Pinnacle Academic Achievement award, she has also been a member of the team of BCC business students that won the inaugural New Jersey County College Case Competition in April. The contest was sponsored by Rutgers Business School-Newark.
On the court, a setter, Vaso earned back-to-back region and conference first-team honors in 2014 and 2015, leading the Bulldogs to the region tournament finals. She ranked 34th in the country for assists per set (6.65).
And if that’s not enough to keep her busy, Vaso also belongs to several clubs and organizations including the college’s Italian Club, Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa.
The honor society is big on community service and, in the past, Vaso has volunteered at a Cliffside Park animal shelter.
But she couldn’t have done it all without the backing of her family, teammates, teachers, classmates and coaches, Vaso said Monday.
“There was a time when the commitment seemed very big,” she said. “And I didn’t know if I could do it. But my family, and my college family, gave me the support I needed.”
Vaso said she has played volleyball for about 10 years, starting in elementary school in Italy where her family lived.
She moved to the United States with her mom, dad and sister three years ago and attended a high school in Fort Lee before being accepted at BCC.
Vaso, who will graduate from the two-year school in May, is hoping to go on to study business and Italian literature at a university.
As to winning the Stauff award, Vaso said she was “very flattered and happy.”
“Nadia exemplifies the best of our student-athletes,” Hernandez said.
As BCC’s first recipient of the award Vaso will, he added, “be a model for generations of young women to come.”
Bergen Community College serves 15,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst.