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Alum Chris Obudho Reaps Rewards of Returning to College
at Mercer and WPU

7/17/13


West Windsor, N.J. – For Mercer alum Chris Obudho ’10 (A.A., Liberal Arts), earning a college degree came later in life.  After enlisting in the Air Force directly out of high school, Obudho worked in a series of writing and political jobs before returning to school to earn his associate’s degree at Mercer and his bachelor’s degree through the college’s partnership with William Paterson University. 

The hard work paid off, as Obudho now works as the lead writer and editor for the Community Recovery Assistance Team for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Lincroft.

Growing up in Florence, Obudho graduated from Florence Township Memorial High School.  “When I went into the Air Force, college took a back seat,” said Obudho, who settled in New Mexico, his last duty station, after serving seven years as a security specialist.

Looking for work in public relations, Obudho was offered the job of marketing director at the Betty Dare Good Samaritan Center in 1996.  “I didn't have any direct experience in that field at the time, but the director of the center gave me a chance,” said Obudho, who explained that the position grew to encompass the development of a giving campaign for new construction and renovations of the adult care facility.

After briefly working as a tourism and marketing coordinator for the City of Alamogordo, NM, Obudho moved back to New Jersey in 2000, eventually settling in Hamilton.  Interested in a career in politics, he took a job as field representative and then campaign manager for Congressman Mike Ferguson (R), who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009.

Mercer Alum Chris Obudho '10 currently works as the lead writer and editor for the Community Recovery Assistance Team for FEMA.

“Politics was always an interest of mine that I wanted to pursue as a career,” he said.

Obudho went on to work as the political director for the NJ Republican State Committee in Trenton, organizing a large-scale “Get Out the Vote” effort in 2003.  The next year, he was the campaign manager for Gerlach for Congress, managing all aspects of campaign operation for the first reelection of Pennsylvania Congressman Jim Gerlach.

The following year, Obudho started his own political and communications consulting firm, CJOC: Quality Writing Services (formerly CJO Campaigns), which he still operates today.

In 2009, Obudho decided it was time to complete some unfinished business.  “Luck and hard work got me a lot of great jobs over the years, but I decided it was finally time to get a good educational background,” said Obudho, who was in his late 30’s when he enrolled at Mercer.

“I wanted to offer better services to my clients, and the convenience of Mercer made it a no-brainer for me,” said Obudho.

He recalled his African American Literature professor, Noreen Duncan, as very influential. “She was tough but I became a much better writer all around because of her.  She really challenged me and helped me hone my craft.”

While at Mercer, Obudho took a job as a security guard at the college, a position he held for four years.  He was one of two students selected in 2010 to represent Mercer as a PTK Academic All Star. Obudho graduated in December 2010 with highest honors, earning his Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in Political and Legal Systems. 

Taking advantage of the college’s agreement with William Paterson University, Obudho continued his studies on the Mercer campus, earning his bachelor’s degree in 2013. “It was a good deal, and a good program,” said Obudho, who graduated with honors in January.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, with concentrations in Political Science and History.

Soon after, Obudho learned of a writing job at FEMA which would tie in both his public relations and political background.  He was hired in March to work on FEMA’s Community Recovery Assistance Team, providing assistance to New Jersey communities suffering damage from Hurricane Sandy.  Obudho writes, edits and proofs policy documents, strategic plans, brochures, fact sheets, and employee profiles.

“I absolutely love my work; it’s very intellectually stimulating,” Obudho said.  “Helping New Jersey recover and get back on its feet is fulfilling work.” He added that he’s currently working closely with the Governor’s office on a document that outlines how the federal government will help the state recover.

When reflecting on his education and his career, Obudho said the best decision he made was enrolling at Mercer to earn his degree.  “Mercer is one of the best educational and financial deals out there.  It helped me build relevant skills and a broader knowledge base to overcome obstacles in the face of the tough economy.”

When asked what advice he would offer to other students looking to get into a political career, Obudho said the best way to start out is to volunteer.  “There are hundreds of campaigns and efforts across the state every year,” he said. “If you're motivated, work hard, and are open to learning, you can be successful.”

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