What factors led you to decide to attend Hudson County Community College?
I was laid off from Hero Group as a Merchandise Receiving Manager and woke up the next day and didn’t know what to do with my life. I remember getting dressed at that time and somehow found myself standing inside HCCC speaking to an angel named Syokwaa Mulumba who was the director of Student Support Services Program. Mrs. Mulumba had a caring spirit; she looked at me and told me straightforwardly that I was going to get registered and go to college. I looked Mrs. Mulumba and knew that everything was going to be fine.
What is your favorite memory of the College, in or out of the classroom?
The experience of getting involved in everything that provided me with the ticket to a better future, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of a higher quality of life. The staff, professors, and community embraced me to learn and network.
How did you become interested in Human Services?
I knew that I had a caring spirit and wanted to help people and tried getting employed with just my volunteer and community experience. I realized that wasn’t enough and decided to major in Human Services and offer myself the opportunity to finally accomplish something for myself.
How did your time at HCCC prepare you for your career/ life now?
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for a substantial amount of various people along with HCCC. I spent my time becoming more knowledgeable in the field of human and social services including studying core subjects such as English, math and history, public speaking, and so forth. I began to become more self-confident, heighten employment opportunities, setting an example for my children, gain independence, met different people and made new friends, and increased my network.
What is a typical work day for you?
My typical work day is managing a county-funded program through the Department of Family Services “Division of Welfare” providing in-home services to persons 60 years of age and older and adult disabled not receiving Medicaid funded assistance. Some services provided under this program are such things as house cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, etc. Clients must be assessed to determine eligibility. I also manage the Homeless Hotline, an emergency answering and referral for the homeless 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Individuals and families in need must call the Homeless Hotline directly and be assisted with emergency assistance with health care, food, and temporary, transitional, or permanent housing. My moment of time carries on being engaged with several civic electoral citizenship activities including social activism.
Who are your biggest inspirations that have impacted your work in some way?
In my life there have been many people that have been a huge influence on me. My two daughters, grandchildren, my grandmother (Jessie Gertrude Harris), family and community members, Miss Elnora Watson, Syokwaa Mulumba, HCCC President Dr. Glen Gabert and his staff and each day doesn’t come to an end because there are many people inspiring me to continue to succeed in life.
What advice would you give to recent HCCC graduates?
Continue learning, wake up and live your life to the fullest; be courageous and genuine which is to say never miss an opportunity. Don’t be around people who don’t have your best interest at heart, achieve goals and accomplished something each day. Focus on making a big impact immediately, sacrifice today to position yourself for tomorrow, take risks with your career / job, network, think like an entrepreneur and don’t settle and volunteer as much as you can.
What advice do you have for those students who are just starting their college careers?
Don’t listen to people who don’t have any idea about the college process, find something that truly inspires you; realize that a successful college career requires hard work, dedication, and sacrifice about anyone who has earned a college degree can tell you, there will be moments when you don't think you can do it, moments when you doubt your ability to succeed. This is normal, but don't let the doubts themselves defeat you. Do not expect less work in your courses because you are busy. Turn off your cell phones while in class. Get organized, go to class, seek a balance, get involved on campus, make time for you, take responsibility for yourself and your actions, stay healthy/eat right and be prepared to feel overwhelmed.