Ashley Minter Gains Gift of Tenacity in Ten-Year Journey to Bachelor’s Degree

'Mercer Made Me Feel Like I Could'


West Windsor, N.J. – As a young woman, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) alumna Ashley Minter ’12, of Trenton, has already overcome more obstacles to success than some people face in a lifetime.

While her resume reads like a straight line, Minter’s back story is far more complicated. At various points since graduating from Ewing High School in 2009, she has wrestled with depression, family crises, homelessness, financial hardships, and uncertainty about her academic and career path.

Minter observes that her own reliance on critical support services at numerous junctures has shaped her desire to help others. She currently works as a mental health counselor at Capital Health Systems, interns at Mercer Street Friends, and is pursuing her master’s degree in Social Work at Fordham University. Her goal is to be a licensed clinical social worker.

Minter says that her years at Mercer from 2009 to 2012 were her first indication that success was possible and that she didn't have to go it alone. "Mercer provided more than an education. I had professors and advisors who encouraged and pushed me and contributed to my next steps. They did everything possible to convince me that I was more than what I perceived myself to be. They were my family.”

Minter became a student leader, serving as president of the Student Activities Board (SAB) at the James Kerney Campus (JKC) in Trenton and mentoring fellow students. “I’m still in touch with many people,” she said, adding that the SAB carried out meaningful community service projects, including planning student events and feeding the homeless.

Minter recalls valued mentors like JKC Provost Monica Weaver, Assistant Dean Barbara Jefferson and counselor Terrence Carter. “I was able to prove myself at Mercer. The staff emphasized that we needed to show up for Mercer and for ourselves. Mercer made me feel like I could.”

Minter transferred to Rider University in 2013, where she pursued her bachelor’s degree part-time through Rider’s Continuing Studies program. She worked full-time throughout her years at Rider, mainly in the mental health field, earning her B.A. in Psychology in May 2019.

Just as Minter found staff and faculty at Mercer who were looking out for her and nurturing her success, she found her footing at Rider, thanks to the TRIO Student Support Services program, which provided her with academic and personal guidance.

“When I started at Rider, I was an average student, but I was determined. As my college career went on, I became less and less average,” she maintained.

Minter says her financial challenges were always top of mind. “One thing that nobody tells you about being in school for so long is that eventually you exhaust your eligibility for loans and grants. During my last two semesters, scholarships were my only hope.”

Minter was awarded the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation Scholarship, along with funding from a private donor, which enabled her to reach the finish line. In her final semester, Minter was named to Rider’s Dean’s List and earned a TRIO award for “persistence, motivation and efforts in pursuing your academic goals.”

Recalling the TRIO awards ceremony, Minter says she decided to attend the event to support the younger students in the audience. “When they gave me this award, I was reduced to tears."

Also in attendance that day was Maureen Hoyler, President of the National Council for Opportunity and Education in Washington, D.C. Moved by Minter’s tears, Hoyler invited her to speak at the council’s conference on Indicators of Higher Education Equity at the National Press Club the following month. Minter says it was an honor she cherishes to this day.

As she contemplates her future as a social worker, Minter says she plans to put her hard-won life skills to good use. “I have gained the gift of tenacity, mastered the art of perseverance, and earned the life experience to achieve my goals. I will be able to meet each client where they are in life.”

Minter encourages other students who may be struggling to stay strong and stay the course. “Don’t let life swallow your dreams and aspirations,” she advised. “In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.’” 


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Ashley Minter '12 earned her bachelor's degree from Rider University in 2019. She is now pursuing her master's in Social Work at Fordham.



Minter is pictured with Maureen Hoyler, President of the National Council for Opportunity and Education in Washington, D.C. Minter was a guest speaker for the organization's conference in 2019.



Ashley Minter and other MCCC student leaders are pictured with Dr. Cornel West, second from left, who spoke at the MCCC Conference Center in 2011. Also pictured are Paul Parham, far left, and Alex Henry.