Sunday, February 23

Brookdale Newsroom

Career Training Graduates Honored at First Ever Commencement

Like many students who enroll in Brookdale’s division of Continuing and Professional Studies (CPS), Linda Morris was looking for a new start. After previously owning and managing an asphalt paving company, Morris was looking to develop new computer skills and the professional tools necessary to compete for a rewarding career in a new field.

In January Morris decided to enroll in CPS’s four-month Business Office Support Specialist (BOSS) program, where she honed her chops on Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, Powerpoint and other in-demand software applications. She also worked with CPS job developers on her resume and interview skills, which came in handy when she completed the course this spring.

In June, Morris decided to apply for a part-time position in Brookdale’s Business and Social Science Institute, serving as an assistant to dean Patricia Gallo. Within two months a full-time position opened up, and following a successful interview she was offered the opportunity to continue her journey right here at Brookdale.

“Sometimes life can lead you down a new road, and you have an opportunity to recreate yourself. I knew that Brookdale offered the resources to do just that,” she said. “Now I have come full circle here, from a student to employee within months. I have twin daughters who have just started their junior year of college, and they are very proud of their mom, as I am very proud of them. Now, on campus, I get to see students their age and help to guide them toward their goals.”

Morris was just one of more than 30 students recognized on Aug. 25 during Brookdale’s first ever CPS Commencement Ceremony, held in the Student Life Center in Lincroft.

Recent graduates from a wide range of training programs – including nonprofit management, interpreting, office administration and diagnostic medical sonography – joined a capacity crowd of friends, family, instructors and college officials to celebrate their achievements and look forward to their next steps.

CNA graduate Keena Smith-Stewart (right) addresses a capacity crowd during the CPS Commencement Ceremony on Aug. 25.

CNA graduate Keena Smith-Stewart (right) addresses a capacity crowd during the CPS Commencement Ceremony on Aug. 25.

The program began with addresses by Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy, Associate Vice President of CPS Marie Lucier-Woodruff and CPS Director of Operations Joan Scocco, who commended the graduates for achievements and presented each with commemorative gift bags to mark the occasion.

“Inside that gift bag you will find a pin with a Brookdale logo on it, which reads ‘CCM’,” said Scocco, addressing the graduates. “That says we are the community college of Monmouth County. And you are part of that community. So tonight is not the end of your journey. It is one more step on your journey to success. Our doors are always open to you. We hope to see you again and often.”

Many in attendance also took time out to thank the CPS instructors, staff and college employees who work alongside the students each semester, assisting with coursework and connecting them with grants, scholarships and career opportunities.

Keena Smith-Stewart, a recent graduate of Brookdale’s Certified Nurse Aid training program, thanked her “power team” of Lisa Savage, Erin Mattsson and Susan Scarangella for helping her secure grant funding for school, connecting her with top officials from area medical centers and ultimately helping her land a job with Jersey Shore Medical Center after graduation.

“Everyone was so supportive and so willing to help me. I knew I was in the right place,” said Smith-Stewart, who plans to continue her health care training and professional growth in the years ahead. “I’m happier than ever and I could never thank the ladies from Continuing and Professional Studies at Brookdale enough. They believed in me and they helped me believe in myself.”

Ceremonial pins were also presented to graduates of Brookdale’s diagnostic medical sonography program, which requires more than 1,400 hours of intense training and clinical experience. Two of the most recent graduates have already begun working as certified professionals in the ultrasound field, Lucier-Woodruff said.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were David Stout, vice president of student success; Patricia Gallo, dean of the Business and Social Science Institute; Jayne Edman, dean of the Health Sciences Institute; Brookdale Graduate Trustee Kevin Przystawski; and a wide range of instructors and staff representing Continuing and Professional Studies.

Learn more about Brookdale’s affordable, short-term career training programs here

Check out more photos of the Commencement Ceremony here