Dozens of new students and their parents were officially welcomed into the Brookdale community on Aug. 23 during this year’s Freehold Campus Family Welcome Night, held in the community room at Brookdale’s Freehold campus.
Faculty and representatives from a wide range of student service divisions joined Freehold Campus Dean Yesenia Madas and interim Brookdale President David Stout in congratulating the new students and offering their assistance in the semesters ahead.
“You are about to start a really incredible, really important adventure here,” said Stout, a former dean of the Freehold campus.
“This campus really does have an incredible family feel to it, which I think you’ll feel from your very first day. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please come talk to us… Make sure that you persist, get involved, stay engaged, complete your programs, and I’ll be looking forward to handing you your diploma on your graduation day. So, to all of you, welcome to Brookdale.”
Students were provided with an overview of the various services and resources offered at the Freehold campus, including free tutoring, academic advising, registration and financial aid assistance, computer labs, a reading lab, a bookstore and cafe, the Brookdale FUN Club, and regular campus events.
Freehold campus faculty members Nancy Bennett, Daniel Lopez, James Poinsett and Jennifer Salvo also discussed the transition from high school to college and answered questions regarding class schedules, homework requirements, testing policies and more.
Guest speakers included Anita Voogt, executive dean of regional sites and partnerships; Stephanie Fitzsimmons, director of financial aid; Janice Thomas, director of the International Education Center; Sarah McElroy, director of career and leadership development; Robert Quinones, director of student engagement; and Donna Bastedo and Lynne Shaffery, associate directors of the Freehold Campus Student Success Center.
Madas opened up to the students about her own educational path, which began with long odds in a rough Bronx neighborhood. After working a variety of jobs and putting herself through college by attending night classes, Madas said she came to understand the transformative power of higher education.
“I was the kind of student who shouldn’t have been successful. I wasn’t supposed to be standing up here today,” said Madas. “Neither of my parents had graduated from high school, and people just assumed that a student like me wouldn’t go anywhere. If someone like me can go through that experience and grow like I did, that means anyone can. And here at Brookdale, we pride ourselves on providing that kind of opportunity.
“You are ahead of the game,” Madas added. “You are saving yourselves and your families buckets of money by coming here, but you are also getting a quality education that will allow you go to anywhere that you want to in life. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”
Joe Walsh, assistant director of off-campus programs for Rutgers University, also provided an overview of the Brookdale-Rutgers Partnership, which allows students to earn a Brookdale associate degree and a Rutgers bachelor’s degree all from the Freehold campus.
Family Welcome Night wasn’t all business, however, as each student was invited to play a game of “Brookdale Plinko” and walk away with one of three unique prizes: a USB port extender, a beach towel, or a Brookdale travel mug.
Later in the evening, Brookdale Vice President for Learning Matthew Reed helped draw winners in the Freehold Family Night raffle, with six lucky attendees taking home movie tickets, season passes to Great Adventure, a $10 Wawa gift card, or a $25 gift card to the campus bookstore.
For Shorbon Mowla, a Howell High School graduate and incoming full-time Freehold campus student, the program was a valuable look into her future college.
“I’m really excited,” said Mowla, of Farmingdale. “There were certain questions I had in mind regarding things like transportation, because I don’t drive yet, and a lot of the information we got tonight was a big help. I also learned that there are a lot more scholarship opportunities here than I thought, and opportunities for internships and things like that. I’m definitely looking forward to getting started.”
The attendees included many of the more than 100 incoming, full-time Brookdale students who will take all of their courses at the Freehold campus beginning this fall. In total, approximately 4,000 Brookdale students study at the Freehold campus each year, with nearly 1,500 more enrolled in Rutgers University and ABE courses.
Click here to learn more about Brookdale’s Freehold Campus, including student services, degree offerings, free ESL/GED programs, and the Brookdale-Rutgers Partnership.
Check out more photos from the Freehold Campus Family Welcome Night here.