CLASS OF 2014
Spotlight on our Graduates
On Target for Her Dream Career
After she graduated from Hawthorne High School in 2010, Stephanie Nieto decided to postpone college and work full-time instead. “I always knew I would go to college,” she said. “I planned to do it the traditional way, right out of high school, but at the time, I felt it was important to help my family financially.”
Stephanie worked at Target, the retail store where she started as an entry level associate at age 16 and eventually rose to managerial level. This spring, she hits some of the other targets she set for herself: a college degree and a career in social work.
On May 22, the honor student will graduate with an A.S. Degree in Human Services. Last March, she landed a part-time, salaried job in her field as a family support worker with the Newark organization Nurse Family Partnerships for Child and Maternal Health.
“It’s a non-profit home visitation project where we address mothers in need, especially first-time moms or moms with kids under three,” explained Stephanie who specifically works with victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Ever since her high school days, Stephanie knew she wanted a career helping others. In summer 2011, the Clifton resident enrolled at PCCC where she majored in Human Services, attending classes and working while her family helped care for her son, now three years old.
An honor student, she served as a member and executive officer of both the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Human Services Club. She also became a PCCC student ambassador.
“Stephanie exemplifies excellence as a student, she is a dedicated, hardworking learner,” said Human Services professor Jennifer Gasparino.
Looking back, Stephanie said she is very happy she started her college education at PCCC. “It’s more affordable and the convenience of location allowed me to become a participant at school events.”
Leaving PCCC will be “bittersweet,” said Stephanie. “I’m looking forward to new things, but it’s hard to leave.” She has high praise for her professors, especially from the Human Services department. “Professor Gasparino is my mentor, and Professors D’Arcangelo, DeGennaro, and Voogd were all very helpfulas well. ”
Stephanie’s ultimate goal is to work with severely mentally disabled adolescents, a field she realizes is very challenging, and she plans to continue her education toward a bachelor’s degree at Seton Hall University next fall.
Her aim is high, but no doubt she will continue to successfully hit those targets, too.