Lifelong Learners Find Success
Adults who come to MCCC to learn new skills for career advancement or career change often choose to learn through the Center for Continuing Studies (CCS), which offers short-term noncredit classes, career certificates, and specialized programs. Classes take place year-round at times convenient to working adults, and are designed for a variety of educational levels, from beginners to those who have already earned bachelor's and master's degrees.
New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey Program Leads to NASA
Kathy Litman took full advantage of the "New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey" program (NPTNJ) to change her career, and now teaches science and math at a Trenton middle school. She used credits earned through the program to partially fulfill requirements for her master's degree in Educational Technology, which she completed at New Jersey City University last year. Previously in the banking industry, Litman said, "The alternate route program does an excellent job of preparing career-changers." She appreciated the extensive support given throughout her first year in the classroom. "I am very happy in this profession."
Her new career is also enabling Litman to take advantage of an exciting program. She will be flying with NASA in Houston, Texas, in summer 2011 as a member of the New Jersey Department of Education's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory team. One of five Trenton area teachers joining others from across the nation, she and her team will observe collisions in microgravity -- the study of weightlessness. "I feel lucky. I had hoped but did not imagine that I would have this opportunity."
Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing Opens Doors for New Career
Cammy Lowe has started a new career in medical coding and billing. Previously owner of a gourmet takeout business, Lowe was working as executive assistant for a marketing and advertising company when she was laid off. The Trenton One-Stop Career Center referred her to CCS and she decided to pursue the certificate program in Medical Coding and Billing. It seemed a perfect fit, says Lowe. Today she works for an animal hospital and runs a home health care billing department for a pharmacy. She was especially pleased that Mercer's program included learning about the coming transition to electronic medical records. "Doctors must have this in place," she said. "I think it is going to be a great career builder and will open new doors."
Web Design Certificate Paves Way to Employment
Sue Wiedorn likewise appreciates the help she received through CCS, which facilitated a New Jersey state grant that enabled her to complete a certificate in Web Design. Wiedorn said earning the certification has given her an edge over her competitors. To her instructors she wrote, "Your professionalism and abilities as effective teachers have touched me personally as well as professionally. You have made it possible for me to find full-time employment. In turn, that employment allows me to support my family, pay my bills and live a fulfilling life! That's no small feat."
Local Author Begins Writing Career Through MCCC Course
For author Shobhan Bantwal, CCS gave her a start in the world of fiction writing. In a course called "Get Published" she learned about the vast and complicated world of publishing, using literary agents, and the challenges of self-promotion. Since then Bantwal has written and published five books that are sold at several area bookstores.
A native of India who moved to America as a young bride in 1974, Bantwal's stories focus on contemporary women's issues in India and the Indian-American immigrant experience. "I include a lot of cultural elements like native cuisine, dress, language and religious traditions to make the story more intriguing for non-Indian readers. I like to entertain as well as educate my audience."
For Bantwal, who works as a supervisor for the New Jersey State Department of Labor by day, her experience at Mercer was "exhilarating. Two of my classmates later became my critique partners and they were my most valuable resource in getting published," she said. "I still stay in touch with them and receive lots of moral support in my writing endeavors."
Mastering Classroom Dynamics Spells Advancement for New Pathways to Teaching Grad
Physics teacher Mark Higgins is a graduate of the "New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey" program (NPTNJ). He has been teaching for seven years, including the last five at Princeton High School, where he recently was awarded tenure. Several of his students were selected for the U.S. Physics Team. Higgins is also involved with the NJ Science Olympiad. He had two master's degrees when he entered the program, and was looking to gain perspective on classroom dynamics. "I learned a lot about preparation, teaching to different learning styles, and the Core Curriculum Content Standards in New Jersey," Higgins said. "Becoming an effective teacher is very hard work. It is a continuing process. My MCCC instructor, Dr. Thomas Vona, was truly a great teacher, mentor and role model."