Four notable Brookdale graduates returned to campus on April 6 to speak with students and offer their support during the college’s biannual Career Connections networking program in the Student Life Center.
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, Rutgers University medical laboratory science program director Deborah Josko, Algonquin Arts Theater arts education director Julianna Nagy, and WBGO staff reporter Ang Santos each spoke about their educational paths, their career experience and their appreciation for the college that gave them their start.
For Josko, a 1985 graduate who also serves as associate professor at the Rutgers University School of Health Professionals, Brookdale was an opportunity to discover her passion for laboratory science, which would go on to shape her life.
“I always say that at Brookdale, I may have earned an associate of applied science degree, but more importantly, what I earned was a profession,” said Josko, who had previously dropped out of college and was working at a jewelry store when she re-enrolled. “The sky is the limit. This is the perfect opportunity to kind of see where you fit in.”
Those sentiments were echoed by each of the speakers, including Nagy, a lifelong theater lover who initially believed she wouldn’t succeed in a college setting. Enrolling at Brookdale, she said, was one of the best decisions of her life.
“I graduated in 2007, at the top of my class,” said Nagy, adding that she found direction and inspiration in Brookdale’s theater program, along with her future husband. “It was kind of a dream come true. It gave me the insight that I can do this; I do have a lot to offer.”
The theme of the day, fittingly, was networking, as each alumni encouraged the students in attendance to forge connections with their faculty, staff, advisors and classmates, and to take advantage of all the resources available to them at Brookdale.
“You have a great opportunity to network with a lot of those professionals who work locally here in and around Monmouth County. It’s a pretty tight knit community,” said Golden, who also gave out his personal cell phone number to the students in attendance. “And you have some great and experienced professors here who have a lot of local connections. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”
The guests of honor also provided some practical advice on topics such as time management, getting a foot in the door, and building a career from the ground up.
“Being in news, you learn that you don’t know everything. You can’t know everything, and you’re just not going to,” said Santos, a 2015 graduate and former overnight DJ with Brookdale Public Radio, who began working at WBGO as a student intern. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even if it seems like it’s a stupid thing to ask, it’s probably not. In anything you ever do in life, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Also in attendance at the event were Lauren Watson, president of the Brookdale Alumni Association; Timothy Zeiss, executive director of the Brookdale Foundation and Alumni Affairs; Career Services and Leadership Development director Sarah McElroy; SLA interim director Lauren Brutsman; and representatives from the Brookdale Student Life Board.
“It was great,” said Brookdale student Nandor Palmai, an aspiring law enforcement officer who spent time speaking with Golden during the event. “The Sheriff gave me his phone number and some advice… The main takeaway for me is that no one will come to you. You have to go out and work for what you want. I think that’s important.”
Learn more about the Brookdale Alumni Association and its exclusive member benefits here.
Check out more photos of the Career Connections program here.