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MCCC Alumni Share Their Success Stories at “Men’s Alumni Forum" at Trenton Campus

4/30/13


West Windsor, N.J. – Four men who have walked Mercer’s halls and gone on to have successful careers gave their inspirational messages to students and staff as part of the “Men’s Alumni Forum” at the Trenton campus in April.

The forum was hosted by the Division of Student Affairs and moderated by Terrence Carter, counselor specialist, and Ariel Matos, coordinator of community outreach and financial officer for the Trenton campus.

Dr. Diane Campbell, executive dean for Academic and Student Affairs, started off the program by welcoming the guest speakers, who all reside in Trenton. She noted that each has shown strength and character as he aspired to be successful, even in the face of obstacles. “Those who go off on their own, those who fight for what’s right – they are the leaders and unsung heroes that you often don’t hear about,” Campbell said.

One of the speakers, Nathan Mayfield, is a guidance counselor at Trenton Central High School, and called Mercer “a hidden gem in the community.”  He added, “Some of my hardest classes have been at Mercer, and some of my most memorable academic experiences have been in my classes here.”

Jared Coleman, who graduated from Mercer in 2008, furthered his studies at Thomas Edison State College (TESC), and now works for TESC as a senior clerk and driver. 

“Mercer answered any excuse I made for myself to not get a college education,” said Coleman, who admitted that it took him awhile to find his path to success.  “If you want to get your foot in the door, Mercer is a good first step.”

Other speakers also admitted to having a slow start to their education, including Rashaun Jones, who currently works as a youth counselor for Project S.M.I.L.E./GEAR UP. 

“All of my friends were going to college and I wanted to prove to them and to myself that I was smart enough to go too,” said Jones, who went on to graduate from New Jersey City University after Mercer. 

Mayfield said his motivation to attend college stemmed from wanting to disprove the stereotypes that followed him as an African American man from Trenton.  “They motivated me to want to prove them wrong,” he said, adding that once he took his first class he was hooked, and found the drive to continue.

Pictured from left: panel discussion moderator Terrence Carter, panelists Jared Coleman and Nathan Mayfield, Trenton campus Assistant Dean Barbara Jefferson, panelists Rashaun Jones and Stuart Grey, and moderator Ariel Matos.

Panelists included Jared Coleman, Nathan Mayfield, Rashaun Jones, and Stuart Grey.
Panel discussion moderators were Ariel Matos, coordinator of community outreach and financial aid officer at the Trenton campus, and Terrence Carter, counselor specialist.

“My biggest struggle as a student was myself,” Jones said.  “There was a long period of time when I was unfocused and in search of motivation,” he added, noting that it was his MCCC mentors who helped him get on the right track.

“Mercer was absolutely the most affordable and convenient choice,” said Stuart Grey, who was working full time at CVS when he enrolled.  “By working full time and going to class I learned how to be disciplined, how to get out of bed every day and do what I had to do regardless of how I felt on that particular day.”  Today Grey is vice president/senior network engineer for TD Bank.

“I loved being opened up to new and different things.  Education went from being something I was interested in to something that I loved,” said Jones, who found the diversity in his classes, particularly international students, to be an important aspect of his time at Mercer.

When asked what advice they would give students, Grey said: “Set small, interim goals.  If you make them, eventually you’ll make your long term goals as well.”

Mayfield advised students to not allow the past to define their future.  “Everybody makes mistakes,” he said.  “You can change everything based on who you are now.  The decisions you make now can speak volumes about your character.”

Coleman said students should always have pride in who they are and what they do.  “You’d be surprised who looks up to you and may view you as a mentor.”

Grey recommended students surround themselves with people who are a positive influence.  “I’ve been out of Mercer for over a decade and I still have a mentor that helps talk me through the tough times,” he said.

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