Student Spotlight: The Third Time Was the Charm for 42-Year Old Honor Student - DeMond James

PCCC student is watching an event with the smile in his face

CLASS OF 2015  

Spotlight on Our Graduates     


DeMond James

Associate in Arts Degree
Liberal Arts/Communication

Phi Theta Kappa
Honors Program
International Scholar Laureate

First Posted 3-12-15 as Student Spotlight
Re-posted 5-7-15

The Third Time Was the Charm for 42-Year Old Honor Student 

DeMond James began his college quest in 1997 when he first enrolled in PCCC. Then he returned eight years later, but his education was again interrupted before he could earn his degree.   

“Life kept getting in the way,” explains the 42-year old honor student, whose long absences from college were caused by serious health issues and job demands.

He returned for the third time in 2012 and that proved to be the charm. DeMond will graduate this May with his Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts/Communication.  Though delayed, the academic journey for this Paterson resident has been distinguished by high achievement and improved health.

“Coming here, I got my energy back,” said DeMond.  He enrolled in the challenging Honors Program, maintained a straight-A record,  and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.  The avid scholar also received a merit scholarship last year from the PCCC Foundation.

This spring, DeMond is among three PCCC students selected for the 2015 International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP), which offers top college students from around the world the opportunity to travel to selected global locations for intensive study within a culturally immersive experience.

DeMond will leave for China in May to participate in ISLP’s International Relations & Diplomacy seminars. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “My high school academic career gave no indication that I would ever be an honors student let alone considered an International Scholar Laureate.”

At Johnson High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, DeMond says he did “just enough to get by,” but he reserves praise for his college prep English teacher who planted seeds that would flourish years later. “She developed my skills in communication and challenged me to think and write critically,” he said.

After high school, DeMond pursued a successful career in sales and marketing, earning a good salary and traveling widely for his work.  When he decided to enroll in college, it was in order to enhance his business career.

 “I was getting good grades, but just didn’t make school a priority,” said DeMond. “I sacrificed education for my career and kept getting derailed.”

Job demands were not the only obstacles to his education. In his early 30s, DeMond suffered two heart attacks, serious blood clots, and a debilitating knee injury. Facing a long recovery, he fell into a depression and has also been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.  

Today DeMond is much improved and says PCCC helped him to recover. “Studying alongside younger students has been a rejuvenation for me,” he said.  The intensive demands of the honors program also helped. “It keeps me focused,” said Demond. “I’m terrified of getting a B.”

He plans to attend Rutgers University to pursue his bachelor’s degree and is considering a dual master’s degree program in Social Work and Public Administration at Columbia University, with the goal of becoming a licensed social worker. 

“I have an affinity for helping, guiding, and nurturing, explains DeMond who discovered these qualities when he worked as an elementary school teacher’s aide and while coaching basketball and tennis. His ultimate career goal is “to do one-on-one counseling, primarily for young adults.”

A desire to diversify his talents led DeMond to major in Communication at PCCC.  “I’ve always been a pretty good writer,” he explained. “Self expression is very important, and I intend to encourage the young people I counsel to express themselves.”

Looking to one day earn a doctoral degree, DeMond  believe his start at PCCC made the difference  in his life. “PCCC has a nurturing environment that feels like a close-knit family,” he said.  “For the price you pay, you get a quality education, but you have to work it.  You just have to do the work.”