Miko DiGiacomo-Castillo Shines as a Beacon Conference Presenter

Miko displays her Certificate of Excellence at The Beacon Conference with her mentor, Professor Alexandra Della Fera and Honors Program coordinator Professor Marc Yeung.

Posted June 21, 2017

Miko DiGiacomo-Castillo, a PCCC Honors Program student, received a Certificate of Excellence for her June 2 presentation at The 25th Annual Beacon Conference held at Orange County College in Middletown, New York.

This is the first time PCCC has participated the Conference, which was established to recognize outstanding students from two-year colleges in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“It was very exciting that one of our students was selected to be a presenter,” said Professor Marc Yeung, faculty advisor to the Honors Program.

Miko, a communication major at PCCC, was one of three students selected from a pool of applicants to present in the Communication category. Her presentation is titled “Reflections of Social Change on Comedic Television.” See it here.

“I wanted to dedicate my time to a topic I already had an interest in and wanted to explore further,” said Miko. “For me that ended up being ideas of social justice and representation for minority identities.”

Miko developed her paper over several months with her mentor, English professor Alexandra Della Fera. “Professor Della Fera suggested I find a unique angle on my topic,” said Miko. “That’s when I decided to fold in another love of mine, television.”

Recognizing that people “want to have these larger conversations about gender, race, sexuality” which “can be too daunting to unpack,” Miko decided to focus on these ideas through television comedy series.
“I knew my topic was relevant and compelling,” said Miko. “I was really proud of my work and was thrilled to have others acknowledge the topic.”

A Ringwood resident, Miko graduated in 2015 from Lakeland Regional High School where she was in the top 15 percent of her class, qualifying her to receive a NJ Stars Scholarship, which covers her tuition at PCCC.

While at Lakeland, Miko, received the George Eastman Young Leaders Award, presented annually by the University of Rochester to high school juniors who demonstrate strong leadership experience in the school and community, high grades and challenging courses, and extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.

At PCCC, Miko joined the Honors Program, an accelerated learning initiative that offers academically talented students a more rigorous course of study along with enrichment opportunities that include cultural arts experiences, challenges such as The Beacon Conference, and internships.
Through the Honors Program, Miko also landed an internship last Fall at the office of New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr.

“The Honors Program has given me experiences I did not think could happen at PCCC,”
said Miko, who expressed gratitude to all her mentors in the program, particularly Professor Della Fera and Professor Yeung.” He has continually encouraged me to set rigorous academic and career goals for myself.”

A committed social activist, Miko recently petitioned in New York against the privatization of public housing. “I love the city,” she said. “It should not be a place exclusive to the wealthy. It’s important to protect the low income and working families that live there and are at risk of losing their homes.”

Miko plans to continue her education at a four-year school after she graduates from PCCC next year. She has not yet defined specific career goals, but said, “I like the idea of a career in which I can find the intersection of art and activism.”

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