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Alum Jerry Carbone Uses Experiences
With Disability to Advocate for Others


West Windsor, N.J. - Jerry Carbone '03 (A.S., General Business) never lets challenges stand in his way. In fact, his gung-ho personality, coupled with his drive and ambition, have made him the perfect match in his job as outreach coordinator and program assistant for the Progressive Center for Independent Living (PCIL) in Hamilton. Every day, Carbone and other staff members strive to provide resources and services such as accessible housing, transportation and other support programs to individuals with disabilities.

"I have always been outspoken about my rights and things I know to be true," Carbone said. Born with cerebral palsy and a wheelchair user since age three, Carbone is dyslexic and has limited use of his right hand. "I use the knowledge I have acquired to help others. I have always let people know the ways they can make something better for a person with a disability. Now, I get paid to do it!"

Since Carbone joined the PCIL staff three years ago, his responsibilities have grown as he spreads the word about the non-profit's mission at community events and trade shows, and works behind the scenes developing brochures, flyers and newsletters. He also serves as a training coordinator, assisting in the center's Emergency Preparedness Program, which educates emergency personnel in the basics of helping people with disabilities. He also presents disability sensitivity and emergency preparedness workshops to companies and community leaders.

Jerry Carbone '03

Carbone is certain that Mercer was the right place to begin his college education. "Mercer's Business program was a great springboard," he said. "Without the knowledge and experiences I had at Mercer, moving on to a university would have been extremely difficult. I learned just as much outside the classroom as inside. I obtained a good education in a safe and friendly environment. Part of feeling that way came from the faculty and staff with whom I interacted on a daily basis. I also met my girlfriend on Mercer's campus and we're still together today. Mercer changed my life."

Two faculty members in particular left an indelible impression -- Herb Spiegel, who taught marketing, and Don Lowing, who taught photography. "Both taught me about real life situations and different ways to deal with people," said Carbone, who was a conscientious and accomplished student. Named to both the President's and Dean's lists, he was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and was selected as the Student Government Association representative for the society. In 2004, he returned to MCCC to earn a Certificate of Proficiency in Small Business Management.

Carbone transferred to Rider University, where he majored in Business Administration. Rider's Student Support Services/TRIO Program honored Carbone by establishing The Gerald V. Carbone Award in his name in 2008. The award recognizes students who display courage, a tenacious attitude and a desire to succeed in the face of personal and academic challenges.

"Jerry makes a positive difference in the lives of others no matter where he goes," said Queen Jones, director of Rider's SSS/TRIO Program. "He is a highly knowledgeable individual who has mentored so many people."

One of Carbone's guiding principles is Henry Ford's mantra, "Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."

Carbone advises, "It takes life's experiences to help shape you as a person, so get involved. Everyone has challenges. You can still lead a productive and meaningful life."

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