to Serve Others Fulfilled at
MCCC for Alum Joann Mia
Windsor, N.J. - If lives read like resumes, you might see
a straight upward arc to success for MCCC alum Joann Mia '05
(A.A., Humanities and Social Science) of Trenton. In truth,
though, Mia's life has been full of stops and starts. Fortunately,
the starts have won the day and, at the age of 65, Mia continues
to evolve academically and personally.
her own trials, Mia firmly believes that if she could pull
herself up, then so can her neighbors. "Passing on my
enthusiasm for learning and for turning around the lives of
others has become my objective. My education has been geared
toward this goal," she says with conviction. Mia notes
that her job as the coordinator for the Richardson Learning
Center at Mercer's James Kerney Campus (JKC) is a perfect
fit, allowing her to oversee support services that maximize
recalls literally growing up in the shadow of JKC. "Our
third floor walk-up overlooked the school parking lot. As
a typical city youth gazing out my back window, I had no idea
how close I was to my future success."
single mom, Mia earned her GED in the early 1970s. Her first attempt
at attending college at Mercer was in 1978, but it lasted only one
semester. Derailed by personal and family issues, it was 20 years
before she returned to MCCC's James Kerney Campus - but this time
it was for real.
was not a traditional student. I did not even consider myself socially
appropriate for an environment of higher learning. But I wanted
to change. I wanted to succeed," Mia says.
started studying in JKC's Career Training Institute and completed
her Legal Secretary Certificate under instructors Karen Zeigler
and Delores Elaezer in 1999. "These ladies still remain my
heroes," she says. Upon completing the CTI program, she was
awarded credits for three college classes and she was on her way,
matriculating into MCCC's Liberal Arts Division's Humanities/Social
Studies program while working part-time in the JKC Library.
graduated in 2005 with her A.A. in Humanities and Social Science
and was named to the Dean's List numerous semesters. She also earned
certificates as an addictions specialist in 2005 and as a drug/alcohol
counselor in 2006.
credits two JKC staff members, former Provost Beverly A. Richardson
and former JKC Bursar Jeremy Parry, with helping her believe in
herself. "They worked on me like sculptors with a lump of clay,"
she recalls. "Eventually I emerged and knew in my heart that
it is okay to be me."
notes the satisfying irony of sitting in the coordinator's seat
at the Richardson Learning Center, which stands as a testimony to
Beverly Richardson's years of hard work and of mentoring students
just like her.
Prior to her post in the Learning Center, Mia worked as a financial
aid officer at JKC, managing services in conjunction with the West
Windsor campus, serving as the financial aid liaison to the Trenton
public and alternative high schools, and distributing financial
aid information at community and off-campus recruitment events.
also continued to pursue her academic goals. She transferred to
Rider University after Mercer, earning her bachelor's degree in
Elementary Education/American Studies in 2007 and passing the Praxis
exam for her K-8 teacher certification. She worked on her master's
degree simultaneously online through Thomas Edison State College,
completing it in Liberal Studies that same year, with a concentration
in Leadership and Organizational Management. She now teaches Mercer's
College Success Seminar for entering freshmen.
may have gotten serious about academics later than some, but she
is continuing her education far longer than most. Having worked
with the urban recovery community for years, including clients at
Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities and the Rescue Mission
of Trenton, Mia celebrated her 65th birthday in early July by completing
her certification as an addictions and drug counselor through the
National Association of Addiction Professionals.
markers of achievement along the way reinforce my desire to continue
on the journey. My destination is still unknown, but, as they say,
it is the journey not the destination," Mia says. She has told
her grandchildren - all seven of them - that she will not stop learning
"until the letters behind my name stretch across the page."
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