West Windsor, N.J. – Alumna Dawn (Coy) Armstead ’85, of Pemberton, is back on the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) campus in a new role – as a basketball mom. Having played for Mercer from 1983 to 1985, she is now in the stands cheering for her son, MCCC freshman John Armstead.
Armstead says she did not hesitate when it came time to consider college options for her son. John, a 6’4” guard for the Vikings who played high school basketball at Burlington County Institute of Technology-Medford, is studying electronics engineering and plans to transfer for his bachelor’s degree after earning his MCCC degree.
According to Armstead, Mercer did a great job of preparing her for the road ahead. “I learned so much and there were so many good people to help me,” she said, recalling Coaches Edgar Moss and Charlie Ross, plus Athletics Trainer Lisa Camillone, who was just beginning her long-time career at the college.
Armstead studied Business Administration at Mercer and then transferred to the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP). With the support of then men’s basketball coach Howie Landa, who wrote her a glowing recommendation, she received a basketball scholarship and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1988.
“I'm grateful for the scholarships from MCCC and UTEP because I started my career being debt free. I see how people struggle to pay their student loans and I thank God I didn't go that route," Armsteasd said. "I recommend anyone interested in going to college to look into their local community college because you can save a lot of money."
These days, Armstead is giving back to the community as a supervisor at the Mercer County Board of Social Services. She oversees Work First New Jersey, a program that helps welfare recipients become self-sufficient through job training, internships and employment.
While Armstead looks back fondly on her years playing basketball, currently she is focused on her son’s progress. At a recent Vikings home game, she diligently kept track of game stats on her iPad as she cheered on the team.