Nearly 30 local high school seniors received some well deserved recognition on June 1, after completing the first ever College Readiness Program offered by the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) and Brookdale.
Throughout the past school year, the students worked with faculty and staff from the district and Brookdale to develop college-level knowledge and skills by taking evening courses at Brookdale’s Freehold campus.
Students were able to study under qualified instructors and earn college credit in subjects such as math, reading and English, participate in Brookdale’s one-credit Student Success seminar and prepare to “hit the ground running” when they enroll in college this fall.
After long hours of hard work and dedication, many of the 28 graduates joined friends, family, faculty and school administrators for an official graduation ceremony at the Freehold campus.
The honorees were welcomed by Brookdale Associate Vice President Marie Lucier-Woodruff, Academic and Career Transitions Dean Franklyn Rother and FRHSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Hazel, who congratulated the graduates for “taking a risk” and enrolling in the new College Readiness Program.
“You have our deepest respect,” said Hazel. “Much of what you have achieved has to come to you with some hard work. You have been focused, you have been disciplined, and you took a risk by taking on this opportunity… In a few days, your high school career is coming to a close. But so many other doors are going to open for you now. It’s how far you push them open, and who you stretch your hand to on the other side, that is really going to pave your way.”
Those sentiments were echoed by class speakers Nnamdi Anyanwu and Javier Cardona, who thanked the gathered faculty, administrators and family members in attendance for their support throughout the program.
“To be honest, I didn’t include community college in my college plans at first. But after participating in this college prep program at Brookdale, I have a different perspective about that,” said Anyanwu, who now plans to attend Brookdale in the fall. “I have learned a lot about doing college work… And I want to thank you all for the opportunity to be part of the program.”
Cardona expressed his amazement at being able to take college-level courses for free, and his gratitude for the skills and knowledge he had developed throughout the program.
“This college readiness program is just what the name says. It readied me for college,” said Cardona. “I didn’t think that was even possible. I went to an admissions office for one of my colleges, and in that interview I told them I was in this program. The look on their faces was priceless. They couldn’t believe I was doing it.
“I had a great time with my fellow students, and experiencing what it meant to actually be a college student,” Cardona added. “It was a pretty sweet deal. And thank you to the faculty and staff. You believed in me and you motivated me throughout the whole program.”
Cardona finished his speech by presenting a bouquet of flowers to Brookdale evening campus administrator Peggy Austin on behalf of his classmates, thanking her for serving as mentor, guide and program manager for the College Readiness students throughout the year.
Austin then joined Rother and Hazel to hand out certificates to each of the graduates and present a special recognition to those students who exhibited exceptional attendance throughout the program.
“Go out and do good in the world,” said Austin. “I know you will.”
The College Readiness Program, funded by a grant to the Freehold Regional High School District, was the first of its kind in college history, Rother said. It has been renewed for the 2016-17 school year.
View the full list of graduates and College Readiness instructors and supporters here.
Check out more photos of the College Readiness graduation ceremony here.