Category Archives: Student Spotlight

Christa Allard: #mygoodwinstory

Goodwin College health science student Christa Allard posted to CT Working Moms on Twitter about how being a student the second time around has changed her world for the better. She also sent a tweet to Goodwin College’s #mygoodwinstory to share her blog post on how she balances her life.

As a mom, wife, and student — as well as a high school cheerleading coach — Allard has many roles to maintain. “Multitasking is second nature now,” she says.

Allard says that as an adult learner she feels a more personal connection to the faculty and staff. “I love the dynamic here. Everyone is so accommodating, and they want you to get the most out of your education.”

New ImageHaving previously worked in nonprofit communications, she decided to re-examine her career option and return to school. Allard’s daughter was beginning preschool, and she knew it was perfect time to make change.

“The timing was just right,” Allard recalled, “I had been giving all of myself to my daughter, and it was time to find the right balance again.”

Attending school is a conscious choice, now more than in the past. “This time [making education a priority] was deliberate,” she says. “It was a decision to change directions and plot a new course.”

She credits her family and Goodwin’s faculty and staff for motivating and supporting her through this process.

Allard plans to use her education at Goodwin to become a lactation consultant. “I want to help new moms during this process. Becoming a mother impacted me greatly and with a background in advocating for women’s rights, it has been a natural transition.”

Allard feels that she is on the right path and is confident in her decision to come back to school. “Goodwin is preparing me for a very specific career. I’m receiving an education that will allow me to hit the ground running when I graduate.”

If you’d like to share your story, send a tweet to Goodwin College using the #mygoodwinstory hashtag for a chance to win a gift card!

Check out the CT Working Moms website to read more of Allard’s blog posts:

By: Hannah Stacy

Priscilla Rivera – How A Scholarship Changed the Course of Her Career

Priscilla Rivera always wanted to attend college, but applying seemed like a daunting task. Goodwin College and the Mutual Housing Association in Hartford gave her the push she needed to become a student.

Rivera took advantage of an opportunity to sharpen her skills through a 10-week course on leadership offered by the Mutual Housing Association.

At the end of the course, Rivera completed a final project in which she focused on community services for young women and babies. She researched and reported services offered to those in need of help.

Priscilla Rivera - Blog 005Rivera received a leadership certificate in November 2011 and was chosen by the Association, who works in conjunction with Goodwin, to receive a two-year scholarship. Rivera enrolled in Goodwin’s Homeland Security program in January 2012, after having been out of school for over 20 years.

“Before Goodwin, I babysat 30 children at my house, but once their mothers started losing their jobs, I knew it was time to go back to school. The scholarship really put things in motion.”

Originally from New York, Rivera worked at a flower shop in Manhattan and used to frequent the Twin Towers. Three months after she moved to Connecticut in pursuit of a better life, the attacks of 9/11 occurred. Afterward, Rivera decided to pursue a career that would allow her to help protect her country in some way. Her passion to help people and the aid she received from Goodwin propelled her forward.

Rivera hopes to set an example for her 15-year-old twins by dedicating herself to her studies and working a part-time job at Goodwin’s Math Lab and Academic Success Center, all while maintaining a stable home-life.

“I’ve had to put some things on hold and make sacrifices, but there is no failing at Goodwin.”

Rivera truly appreciates the in-depth material, “homey” environment, and experienced professors. After she graduates with her associate degree this fall, she will be going on to pursue her bachelor’s in hopes of becoming a probation officer.

By: Hannah Stacy

Jenette Davis: Commencement 2014 Student Speaker

Human Services student Jenette Davis has been chosen as one of two student speakers for Goodwin College’s 2014 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 7. She shares the stage with valedictorian Rebecca Whiting.

New ImageDavis’ drive, commitment, and involvement in the life of the College were among the many reasons she was selected to address the audience of students, faculty, trustees, family, and friends. Often seen giving advice, interacting with others, and sharing the wisdom of her experiences, Davis is well respected and appreciated by everyone in the Goodwin community.

“I was excited, surprised, overwhelmed, and very proud that I was asked to speak at Commencement,” Davis said.

Not only is Davis is a student, she is the wife of a pastor, mother of six (including her son, Shane, a current Goodwin student), grandmother of eight, foster mother of six, CREW member, and desk assistant at Goodwin’s Academic Success Center and Math Lab.

Enrolling in Goodwin’s Human Services program has enabled her to pursue her true passion: helping others. She plans to use her degree to enhance the work of the church, and she endeavors to be of service to young, single mothers. “I want them to know they can do whatever it is they desire, and education is a key part of that,” Davis stated.

Commencement 2014 will truly be a family affair for Davis. Her son, Shane, will be singing the national anthem at the beginning of the ceremony. “I’m delighted and proud of my son. It means so much that he’s singing on the day that I’m graduating,” she noted.

Davis is already continuing her education at Goodwin even before Commencement. She enrolled in the bachelor’s program and has begun classes.

Davis wishes her fellow graduates luck. “To everyone: a job well done. Continue to follow your dreams, no matter the circumstance.”

By: Hannah Stacy

Teara Aris: Dual Enrollment Pays Off for CTRA/Goodwin Student

Teara Aris, a Connecticut River Academy (CTRA) graduate and current Goodwin College student, was one of the College’s first dual enrollment scholars. The dual enrollment program was created to provide high school students with the opportunity to take college courses for credit and to ease the transition to their next level of learning.

Tyrone Black, Concurrent Enrollment Coordinator, explained the benefits of the program. “The early college program at Goodwin College offers meaningful learning opportunities for students beyond their high school experience. Students who take full advantage of this program and its resources are more likely to build the academic and social skills necessary to be ready for college and careers.”

Aris came to CTRA as a sophomore and took college courses during her junior and senior years. “It was nice to have all of the pre-requisites out of the way like English, math, and biology before actually being enrolled in college.”New Image

In 2013, she was a member of CTRA’s first graduating class and felt well prepared for the next step. “The Goodwin teachers expected us to be college students even though we were still in high school. I worked harder and because of this I was very independent coming into college.”

She decided to enroll in Goodwin’s Health Science program the following fall. “My little cousin has sickle cell anemia,” she said, “and he really was my inspiration to go into health care.” In the future, Aris hopes to use her education to help patients like her cousin. “Watching him go in and out of the hospital is hurtful. I want to work with patients just like him. I want to work hard and to be useful.”

Throughout her high school experience, Aris noted, one instructor really helped her along the way: CTRA English teacher JT Foster. “I was behind in English, but Mr. Foster was so helpful and patient with me. He taught me how to read and write more efficiently and explained things in a way I understood.”

Foster had equally kind words about Aris’ work ethic and drive. “From the start, Teara was a student who let nothing get in the way of her academic success. She had some setbacks, but persisted, and with a good sense of humor, she took risks that in the end put her ahead of many of her peers. She is an inspiration.”

As a Goodwin student, Aris is a now part of the WISE (Women Invested in Securing an Education) program, which supports the academic and personal success of women from disadvantaged backgrounds. “WISE helped me socialize and meet new people. I appreciate all the advice I get from the leaders and mentors of the program.”

Aris is realizing great satisfaction from her experience at Goodwin College. She will graduate with an associate degree in Health Science in May 2015, plans to continue on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Nursing, and hopes to work in the areas of hematology and oncology.

By: Hannah Stacy

From Student to Teacher

In a bold and unusual leap from learner to instructor, Bruce Hoffman went from Goodwin Nursing student to nursing faculty member at Springfield Technical Community College.

As a part of a trial study for Goodwin’s online RN to BSN nursing program, Hoffman excelled in his courses while still living in Maryland. “It was so convenient to do my school work from home, and if I needed to come [to campus] to get support, I could.”

After speaking with one of his advisors about potential options in his chosen field, Hoffman decided to pursue education as a career. “I wanted to be able to promote something that could drastically change people’s lives.”

While in school, Hoffman, a registered nurse and licensed paramedic, elected to take a course abroad in Haiti, a devastated country desperately in need of quality health care. He immersed himself in the unfamiliar culture in hopes of learning, growing, and sharing his knowledge with others. With his experiences in Haiti now part of his working knowledge in health care, Hoffman has been able to bring a level of invaluable expertise to his work.

Hoffman and his students

Hoffman and his students

“I had great educators throughout my life and at Goodwin. The professors were  all nurses at the start of their education careers, so they bring real-life experience to the classroom. As a student, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, the faculty will match that 100%. I want to give that type of experience to my students.”

With a teaching style that’s direct, deliberate, and fair, Hoffman holds his students accountable. “We have 60 days [in an Associate Degree nursing program] to prepare our students clinically and to become functioning nurses; it’s not a field where you can sit back and relax. We have to move quickly and efficiently.

Hoffman’s students speak of him fondly and respectfully. “As a teacher, he really captures our attention. He is fun, informative, entertaining, and thorough,” one student remarked. “He pushes you to be better.”

As an educator, Hoffman demands excellence from his students. “You have to be dedicated and motivated. Bruce gives us constructive criticism and feedback as we learn,” another student added.

Hoffman is currently pursuing his master’s degree online in Educational Leadership at Western Governors University. His dedication, energy, and desire to continuously learn set a great example for his students to follow.

Nursing is a career for the compassionate and kindhearted. “You can’t teach somebody to care, but you can facilitate and promote it. Nursing students need to have an innate desire to care for others, and I can help them foster that and be great,” Hoffman stated.

By: Hannah Stacy

Family Environment At Goodwin Takes On New Meaning

Goodwin College prides itself on its family-like environment, and in some unique cases students are actually related. Family members Briana Camacho, Charlene Gross, and Tarisha Gross are wonderful examples of what makes Goodwin a special place to learn and grow.

After Tarisha came to the College in 2012 to study Human Services, she encouraged her sister, Charlene, and niece, Briana, to consider Goodwin as well.

Charlene, Briana, and Tarisha

Charlene, Briana, and Tarisha

“The environment at Goodwin is mature and focused. The professors here lead and guide you — they have given me insight. All the resources you need are here,” Tarisha commented.

Charlene, currently enrolled in General Studies, hopes to enter the Business program. She works full-time, so having a flexible school schedule was an important consideration. “I mostly take online classes, which is really convenient for me. I’ve also taken advantage of the e-tutoring program when I need help on certain assignments.”

Hoping to receive a promotion within her current company and eventually create a nonprofit organization to address domestic violence, Charlene takes her studies seriously. “All of the classes are useful and align with what I want to do. I want to give myself leverage to move up within my company.”

Briana Camacho completed Goodwin’s Summer Bridge program, designed to bridge the gap between high school and college. Summer Bridge prepared Briana well for her college experience. “Summer Bridge taught me how to be responsible. I wouldn’t be as focused at any other school,” she said.

Now enrolled in General Studies, Briana hopes to be accepted into the Nursing program. “Nursing is a competitive program. I need to give it my all.” She is also a member of WISE (Women Invested in Securing an Education), which promotes the academic and personal success of women from disadvantaged backgrounds. She receives valuable support through WISE and has formed wonderful connections.

Tarisha, Charlene, and Briana support and encourage one another in pursuing their dreams. “We talk about our classes and experiences. My mom and aunt have given me a lot of insight,” Briana stated.

It’s fairly common for various generations to attend the same college, but it’s rare that family members attend at the same time and at various ages. Goodwin College fosters learning regardless of age and hopes that stories like this inspire others to take the leap into bettering their lives through education.

By: Hannah Stacy

Adult Learner Succeeding in College Setting

Gladys Mercado, a 31-year-old student at Goodwin College, enrolled in the Human Services program to better the lives not only of her three children, but those she will affect in her career as a Human Service professional as well. As a mother, college student, member of multiple honor societies, and full-time district aide for Congressman John B. Larson, Mercado dedicates herself to each facet of her life and has a clear vision for her future.

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She sets the bar of achievement high for her sons. “I am teaching them to push past excuses. There will always be hurdles,” she said, “but you need to overcome them.” One obstacle that has proven considerable for Mercado is a lack of personal transportation to school, but that hasn’t stopped her. “I’ve ridden my bike, taken a taxi, hopped on a bus, and even walked from Hartford to get here.”

Out of school for many years before enrolling at Goodwin, Mercado was at first hesitant about coming back, but found the new environment welcoming: “Goodwin made the transition easy for me. It is comforting, warm, and supportive here.”

Having lived on welfare as an inner city child, and had children herself at a young age, she recognizes the struggles and understands the perceptions of others, but refuses to let labels define her: “I am fighting for the people who feel they don’t have a voice.”

Mercado’s return to school helped support her promotion from staff assistant prior to district aide at the Congressman’s office. “Being a district aide allows me to do what I am truly interested in, case work. I’m able to work with populations I’m passionate about helping,” she stated.

Mercado believes in President Scheinberg’s vision for the College. “Goodwin has a wonderful reputation, vast support services, and is constantly growing and expanding. The faculty equips you with the skills and confidence to land a job in your field,” she noted.

In addition to her current course of study, Mercado has plans to pursue her education even further. “Goodwin has been the biggest motivator for me. I’ve learned not to settle. Goodwin fosters a desire to continue on and really be the best you can be. ”

With a belief that everyone has the power to change the world, it is obvious Mercado will make a difference in the lives of many. “There are so many opportunities to change your world and the world of others.”

By: Hannah Stacy

From Culinary School to Nursing School

From tempting the palettes of diners to caring for the well being of her patients, Shavonne Overton has gone from culinary school graduate and pastry chef to Goodwin College nursing student. Changing careers, although intimidating to most, has proved seamless for Overton.

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Moving in 2009 from New York City to Connecticut, Overton was offered a job at a restaurant, which unfortunately went out of business soon after, leaving her unsure of where to go and what to do next. “I realized it was time to go back to school,” she recalled.

Overton had already persevered through many of life’s challenges. When she was in high school, her mother, a Licensed Practical Nurse, passed away after many years of illness. “She was always in and out of the hospital. I tried to take care of her, but didn’t have the knowledge that I do now.”

Her mother’s work proved to be the inspiration for a new direction in Overton’s life. “Health care has always been a passion of mine,” she stated. “Like my mother, I love nurturing people so it was the perfect fit for me.”

Realizing it would take a leap of faith, confidence, and dedication to put her on the right path, Overton embraced the change.

President of the Goodwin College Student Nursing Association and a tutor in the Academic Success Center, Overton is highly invested in her education and has gone above and beyond expectations. “Goodwin is a great place to be. It’s a competitive atmosphere, which makes me thrive, but everyone is also very nurturing and helpful. It’s a wonderful balance.”

By: Hannah Stacy

Adapting to Change in Unexpected Times

Senita Pinckney’s journey to Goodwin College was not an easy one. After being involved in a car accident leaving her with permanent damage, she was unable to continue with Goodwin’s nursing program so she forged a new path.

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“I was in my senior year of the nursing program at Goodwin when I got into an accident. I couldn’t carry my body weight, which is a requirement of being a nurse,” Pinckney said.

After taking a year off to reassess her goals and identify a new career path, she came back to Goodwin to study Human Services with a newfound focus and determination.

Although Pinckney would no longer be working in a hospital setting, she would still be providing support and assistance to those in need. “I always knew I wanted to help people — now I help people in a different way,” Pinckney commented.

When Pinckney recently had knee surgery, her professors allowed her to listen in on classes through phone conferences so she wouldn’t fall behind. “They made sure I had all my assignments and everyone was so accommodating.”

Although Pinckney has had her share of life challenges, fitting in an education has always been manageable for her. She has been working at MetLife as a disability case manager for the past seven years while attending school. She also volunteers at Crossroads Community Church as a youth leader.

“I have never had a conflict of interest between work, school, and family. Goodwin has always been the perfect fit for me.”

An unexpected accident changed the direction of Pinckney’s future, but she ended up right where she is meant to be.

“The thing I find the most fulfilling about Human Services is knowing that one person really can make a difference.”

By: Hannah Stacy

Changing Paths

Marianne Gambardella came to Goodwin College in search of a career change. Having already earned a bachelor’s degree from another school, Gambardella discovered that she possessed a deep passion for caring for others and enrolled in Goodwin’s nursing program.


In 2010, Gambardella’s grandmother was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a cancer that develops in the glandular tissues of the body. She passed away after undergoing heavy treatments and numerous attempts to battle the disease. “She always called me her ‘little nurse.’ Although I had been thinking about going into nursing prior to her getting sick, losing her is what really motivated me to make the decision,” Gambardella stated.

With the support of her family and her passion ignited, Gambardella is well on her way to becoming a nurse. “The most fulfilling part about nursing is knowing I’m there to help those in need.”

Gambardella works full time at the Orthopedic Associates of Hartford, but is still able to make time for school. “Goodwin is so flexible with my work schedule. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at this point in my life,” she said.

Her experiences at Goodwin have provided her with the support, reassurance, and encouragement she needs to succeed. “I’m accomplishing what I set out to do and have made wonderful friends along the way.”

While Gambardella’s nursing career may have begun after an unfortunate loss, she is honoring her grandmother’s memory by creating a future in which she will be helping others.

By: Hannah Stacy