Two dozen local high students received some well deserved recognition on May 23 after completing the second annual College Readiness Program, a comprehensive academic enrichment initiative cohosted by Brookdale and the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD).
Throughout the last school year, the students worked with faculty and staff from the college and their high schools to develop college-level skills and knowledge during a series of evening courses at Brookdale’s Freehold campus.
While completing honing their skills in math, reading and English, the students had the opportunity to earn transferrable college credits by completing Brookdale’s Student Success Seminar and other college courses. Students also prepared and sat for the Accuplacer college entrance exam, allowing them to move one step closer to their academic goals.
Following a year of long nights, extra assignments and hard work, the College Readiness graduates were recognized for their achievements in front a capacity crowd of family, friends, faculty, staff and school administrators. The ceremony began with addresses by Brookdale president Maureen Murphy and FRHSD superintendent Charles Sampson, who applauded the students for committing to their educational and professional goals.
“You chose to take the more difficult path this year, which tells us an awful lot about your initiative, your drive and your ambition,” said Sampson. “And it probably tells us a lot about your future success. Because, at the end of the day, when you are faced with different opportunities in life, you have a chance to either seize them and work hard and make it happen, or wait for them to pass you by. You didn’t let this opportunity pass you by, and I am very, very proud of you all.”
Throughout the program, according to Brookdale evening campus administrator Peggy Austin, half of all enrolled students successfully passed a portion of the Accuplacer exam, while 25 percent passed all four sections.
A number of students, including Freehold High School student Tochi Chinedu, also completed multiple college-level courses and got a jump start on their future degree.
“I was eager and excited to join the program, and I’m truly glad I did,” said Chinedu, who graduated from the program alongside her triplet sisters Chisom and Nwaneka. “I was able to easily pass my college placement test and got the chance to take two free classes – textbooks included – at Brookdale. Thanks to this program I am graduating high school with four extra credits on top of the four that I am receiving from my AP classes.”
“It has been a long time coming to this point,” said Jean-Charles. “If it weren’t for this program I probably wouldn’t have gotten into my top college. And everyone else has probably had a similar experience. Thank you for this program, and for all of the help along the way.”
Each graduate was presented with a certificate a completion, and special recognition went to those students who exhibited outstanding attendance along with the faculty and staff who supported students throughout the program. In her farewell address, Austin encouraged the students to build on their momentum and continue achieving great things in the months and years ahead.
“It was a long year,” said Austin, a Brookdale alumni and graduate of the FRHSD. “I know there were times when Brookdale was probably the last place to you wanted to be at on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, but you hung in there and you made it.
“To paraphrase Maya Angelou, each of you has an amazing machine in your head, and it can take you anywhere you want to go,” Austin added. “Dream big, students. Dream big and work hard. You are all so amazing.”
Also in attendance to recognize the graduates were: Matthew Reed, vice president for learning; David Stout, vice president of student success; Anita Voogt, Brookdale’s executive dean of regional sites and partnerships; Yesenia Madas, Freehold campus dean; Franklyn Rother, dean of K-12 partnerships; Nicole Hazel, FRHSD chief academic officer; Linda Jewell, Freehold High School principal; and Elizabeth Higley, Freehold Township High School principal; and Donna Evangelista, district director of planning, research and evaluation.
View the full list of graduates and College Readiness instructors and supporters here.
Check out more photos of the 2017 College Readiness Graduation Ceremony here.