Jennifer Jordan, Manager of Student Records Systems at Brookdale Community College, and Jennifer West, a Brookdale student, never met on the College’s campus, but their chance meeting over a child’s car seat illustrates the impact Brookdale employees can have on student success.
West, who graduated from Montclair State University with a medical assisting and phlebotomy certification, recently became a single mother and sought a new career that would allow her to better financially support her children. After much contemplation over schools and degrees, West decided to pursue Radiologic Technology, which was always of interest to her, at Brookdale.
Prior to her acceptance into the program, West needed to retake a few courses due to expired credits. During this time, she realized that by pursuing her educational aspirations, it would be difficult to balance the demands of school and family.
“While I was at an information session about the Radiologic Technology program, the attendees were informed that the program was full-time and would consume nearly 6o hours a week of our lives,” said West. “As a single parent, my support system was limited. With such a demanding program, I didn’t foresee the opportunity or the option to pursue this two-year commitment. ”
In the midst of contemplating her educational goals, she was contacted by Jordan, who saw an advertisement for a child’s car seat that West recently posted online. Instantly, the two began a conversation that spanned various topics including children, being a single parent, and education. As they talked, Jordan shared that she worked at Brookdale and West explained her concerns with the strict demands of the schedule in the Radiologic Technology program.
“Jennifer offered kind words, support, and reminded me how far I’ve come. She also stated that things always have a way of working out and stressed the importance of this opportunity in front of me,” said West. “She assured me that although there would be sacrifices and challenges ahead of me, this opportunity would ultimately be worth taking.”
Soon after their encounter, West enrolled at Brookdale.
“You never know when your words will have an impact on someone,” said Jordan. “I felt a strong need to inspire Jennifer [West] to continue her studies despite the adversity. From one single mother to another, I understand that sometimes support and encouragement can make all the difference.”
Prepared to make the necessary sacrifices needed to succeed, West began her journey in the Radiologic Technology program last fall. Two months into classes, Super Storm Sandy ripped through much of Monmouth County, destroying West’s home.
“My home, along with others on my block, was uninhabitable. I debated dropping the program, but I remembered how far I came. My gut told me I had to try before I quit,” said West. “I don’t know how I did it, but I spent 21 days in a motel, moved what was salvageable out of my home and moved into an apartment while attending classes.”
Although the stresses of the course work and Sandy seemed overwhelming, West was able to contact Brookdale faculty and staff for support. In addition, West received financial assistance from the Brookdale Foundation, which provided disaster relief financial assistance to students who needed aid to stay enrolled.
Despite the various challenges, West persevered and passed all of her courses in the first semester of the program.
“Although the semester was full of obstacles, the support I received from Brookdale, especially from Jennifer, encouraged me to continue this adventure of achieving my degree,” said West.
Photo from left to right: Jennifer West and Jennifer Jordan