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Port Authority Supervisor Jeffrey Yuhasz Recalls Mercer as First Challenge in His Climb to Success


West Windsor, N.J. - When looking at the career accomplishments of MCCC alumnus Jeffrey Yuhasz '89 (A.A.S., Radio), it's hard to believe he was once a 16-year-old high school dropout. Now the Contractor Insurance Programs (CIP) Supervisor of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Yuhasz, a resident of Hillsborough, has left his rocky start far in the past and credits Mercer as the first rung in his ladder to success.

Yuhasz first enrolled at Mercer in 1987, just after earning his GED in six weeks' time. "What I immediately recognized was a community that welcomed me whole-heartedly to academia without any reservations concerning my earlier academic failings," he said. He maintains that the encouragement he received at Mercer was what fueled his growth and development, pushing him forward with his education and career aspirations.

Jeffrey Yuhasz on the job at Port Authority

Yuhasz dived into activities at Mercer. He was the manager of WMCC, Mercer's student radio station, and acting president of Alpha Theta Gamma, the school's chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa National Junior College Honor Society. He graduated with honors and was selected as student commencement speaker. He also won the Dean's Award for student leadership.

Shortly after completing his associate degree, Yuhasz headed west to Port Angeles, Washington, where he began his radio career as an on-air personality while also working for CDR Consultants, a construction dispute resolution firm. He continued to pursue his passion for music in his off hours by establishing Yuhasz Entertainment Group LLC, a talent scout agency. He also established the WMCC Internet radio network, which helped MCCC alums like himself reminisce about the glory days of the 1980s.

Almost a decade later, Yuhasz decided to go back to school. He graduated cum laude from Whitman College in 1999 with a B.A. in English and a minor in comparative religion. He then went on to the University Of Washington School Of Law on a full scholarship, and graduated in 2002 with a Doctor of Jurisprudence. His doctoral dissertation was published by a major academic review.

In 2007, Yuhasz took a job as a risk and claims specialist at Sound Transit, the transportation agency that runs the bus and rail systems for three counties in the Seattle area. (Sound Transit is also involved in a multi-year project to build the area's first commuter light rail system.) When his supervisor became ill the following year, Yuhasz took over as risk manager.

Two years later, Yuhasz got a call from the Human Resource Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which had found his resume online and wanted to offer him a job. Anxious to return to his home state of New Jersey, Yuhasz accepted the position of construction risk manager.

In his current job, Yuhasz supervises the Port Authority's contractor insurance program, which involves marketing the company's insurance plan, negotiating the premium, enrolling all contractors and sub-contractors, and managing claims and litigation.

Looking back on all his experiences over the years, Yuhasz believes Mercer played a pivotal role in helping him get his life back on track and get his career going. "Without Mercer I never would have thought I could later graduate from a leading liberal arts college and law school," he said.

He notes that Mercer helped mold him into the person he has become by giving him a safe place to experience risks. "I realized that taking risks can have a much better outcome than playing it safe and never trying to succeed in the first place."

He advises students not to be hampered by self-doubt. "Your image of yourself will change as you grow older and more confident. Use Mercer to strike out. Try enrolling in a class that intimidates you. If you fail, the pain of failure is minimal. However, if you succeed, a whole new world of possibilities may open to you. That was my experience attending Mercer, and I'm forever grateful."

Learn more about Yuhasz's professional background on LinkedIn here.

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