“The Berkeley College students I met today reminded me that it’s so important to meet students where they are, regardless of life circumstances.”– Brian Bridges, PhD, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, about his visit to Berkeley College
Berkeley College students shared stories of their college journeys with Brian Bridges, PhD, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, during Bridges’ visit to the Woodland Park, NJ, campus on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. The students, whose backgrounds ranged from military veterans to adult learners and first-generation college students, spoke about the ways Berkeley College is supporting them with their academic and career goals, including efforts to help students through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s always great to interact with students and see the promise of college play out. It’s exciting. Good luck to each and every one of you,” Bridges said to the students during his visit.
He added after the event: “The Berkeley College students I met today reminded me that it’s so important to meet students where they are, regardless of life circumstances. Thank you ... for being contributors to the New Jersey higher ed ecosystem.”
“The visit by Dr. Bridges provided an opportunity to share the Berkeley College experience through the eyes of our students,” said Diane Recinos, EdD, President of Berkeley College. “We also had an engaging conversation about the ecosystem of higher education in New Jersey and priorities centering on affordability and completion.”
Recinos and Kevin L. Luing, Board Chairman, led a discussion with Bridges, Deputy Secretary of Higher Education Kathleen Comanto, and College administrators, followed by a conversation between Bridges and several students.
Students Share Their Challenges and Triumphs
“It was truly an honor to speak with Dr. Bridges about my experiences at Berkeley College and my higher education journey as a non-traditional adult student,” said Nancy Crucita Villanueva, a Berkeley College student from Dunellen, NJ, who is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Legal Studies.
Villanueva said Berkeley College online courses gave her the flexibility to balance her work in the community, her career, and her responsibilities to her family of seven.
“I discussed the challenges I faced and how I overcame them to continue to pursue my college education, such as balancing my home life, career and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Villanueva. After she completes her degree later this year, Villanueva plans to attend law school and fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming an attorney.
“The experience was extremely enlightening, as it focused on a crucial conversation about the future of higher education in a post-COVID world,” said Nallely Inoa, a resident of Paterson, NJ, who will complete her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design later this year. “I felt heard and I was extremely grateful and honored to be a part of this opportunity.”
Inoa will serve as Student Speaker at the College’s Commencement ceremony, to be held at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, on May 13, 2022.
“The event was an amazing opportunity to tell my college story,” said Gabrielle Peralta, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Berkeley College alumna who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management at the College. “The Secretary was very interested in all of our stories and asked us great questions.”
Peralta, a resident of Newark, NJ, was recognized in 2020 by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association as a Rising Star Award recipient, honoring future business leaders pursuing a college education. Once Peralta graduates with her MBA, she plans to be a small business owner, operating her own line of bakery trucks. She will be honored as the Berkeley College Student of the Year at the College’s Commencement ceremony.
Katherine Fernandez, who will graduate in fall 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, said Bridges’ story of his own graduation day made a profound impact on her.
“His story resonated so much with me because as an adult student returning to school after 10 years, I am looking forward to graduation so much,” said Fernandez, a resident of North Bergen, NJ.
After a decade working in the technology industry, Fernandez plans to attend law school after she graduates later this year.
About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers continuing education programs to enhance career credentials.
Berkeley College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan, NY, and in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 4,000 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online? serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for nine consecutive years. U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College (NJ) one of the Best Regional Colleges in the North in its 2022 edition of the Best Colleges Survey. In 2021 Berkeley College (NJ) was also recognized for the first time as a Top Performer on Social Mobility among colleges in the region. The website address is http://www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.
Photo Caption: Brian Bridges, PhD, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education (fourth from left), meets with Berkeley College students and administrators on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ.
Brian Bridges, PhD, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education (fourth from left), meets with Berkeley College students and administrators on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ. The students shared their college journeys, and the ways Berkeley College is supporting them on their paths to successful careers. Back row (L to R) are Panagiota Babadelis, Berkeley College Master of Business Administration (MBA) student and Marketing Associate, Berkeley College; Sherrille Shabazz, EdD, Assistant Vice President, Student Development and Campus Life, Berkeley College; Kathleen Comanto, New Jersey Deputy Secretary of Higher Education; Bridges; Katherine Fernandez, Berkeley College student; Nancy Crucita Villanueva, Berkeley College student; Diane Recinos, EdD, President of Berkeley College; LaTysha Gaines, Campus Operating Officer, Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ; and Shamira Drakeford.