Community Foundation of New Jersey

New Paths Newark Congratulates First Graduate

July 20, 2016

When Joanne Bernardino came to the United States from the Philippines at just 16 years old, she knew then that one of her mother’s dreams in life was to see her daughter graduate from college. And Joanne had every intention of getting that degree, enrolling at New Jersey City University in 2002.

But as is the case for many young people, especially those on whom other family members rely, life got in the way. Competing work and family responsibilities forced Joanne to take a lighter course load at New Jersey City University and ultimately leave the university altogether. Joanne would go on to take a position in the Newark Public Schools, and held the position for twelve years.

When Joanne was laid off in 2014, it was a major blow. More than fifteen years after arriving in the United States, Joanne was now unemployed and still without a college degree.

But that is when New Paths Newark stepped in.

Designed to dramatically improve employment prospects for civil service employees impacted by reductions in force conducted by the Newark Public Schools in years 2011 through 2015, New Paths Newark provides financial and academic supports that allow these individuals an opportunity to gain new skills and access 21st century career pathways.

Joanne worked with New Paths Newark’s Kevin Anthony to continue at New Jersey City University. And last month, Joanne Bernardino achieved her mother’s dream: she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design. Today, Joanne is designing website and graphics for corporate clients and seeking to expand her freelancing business.

“Joanne is the perfect example of determination,” said Kevin. “Facing challenges head on, she proved that nothing will stop her from accomplishing her goals. Joanne’s future is very bright.”

To learn more about New Paths Newark, visit www.CFNJ.org/newpathsnewark.