Student Explores How 9/11 Attacks Galvanized Nation in Award-Winning Video

Mirella Quintana Wanted to Portray Happiness and Unity in CCM Peace Prize Project – Posted 5/13/16

County College of Morris (CCM) has selected the recipient of its 15th annual Peace Prize in an effort to advance world peace and human understanding. This year’s winning project was created by Mirella Quintana, of Dover, a CCM business administration major.

The project, a video she titled “Unity and Laughter Through Peace,” explores the topic of solidarity by looking at how the September 11, 2001, attacks galvanized those impacted, as well as how peace has a unique meaning to each person.

“I felt it was important to create this project because, often, many people forget to see how strong this attack has made us, not only as a nation but also worldwide,” Quintana said. “It forced us to come together and grow. Through my video I wanted to give off a vibe of happiness, peace and unity.”

The video can be found on YouTube at

Susan Miller, assistant professor and assistant chair of the Business Administration Program at CCM, was Quintana’s mentor for the project. Honorable Mention was awarded to Brandon Russo, of Hopatcong, a broadcasting major whose mentor was Ray Kalas, professor of communication at CCM.

“Mirella is an amazing young woman and I am the lucky one who has had the privilege of having such an outstanding young woman as a student, as president of Alpha Beta Gamma (the business honor society) and being her advisor along the way,” Miller said.

The winner each year receives a $1,000 award, provided by the CCM Foundation, along with a plaque in recognition of the achievement. Quintana will also have her name added to a permanent plaque of Peace Prize winners located in the CCM Student Community Center. She says she was surprised when she found out from Miller that she won, and is excited that people will be able to view her video.

“I wanted to show others that, yes, this tragedy did happen but, no, it did not break us,” Quintana said. “Together we showed others that when we took each other’s hands we were able to build a better tomorrow. If we just open our eyes, we’ll be able to see that life is beautiful and we are where we are today thanks to the first responders, volunteers and support systems; we came out winning.”

Quintana will graduate from CCM with her associate degree on May 27 and is in the process of choosing an institution to earn her bachelor’s degree. She currently has full-tuition scholarship offers from the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt.

The Peace Prize competition is organized and administered by Professor Peter Maguire of the Department of English and Philosophy. Established in the fall of 2001, the program provides students with the opportunity to apply their imagination and creativity to the design and production of a work that both commemorates the events of September 11, 2001, and makes a positive statement about the importance and pursuit of world peace.

Photo: Mirella Quintana, of Dover, is the winner of this year’s County College of Morris Peace Prize.