“Faculty express compassion and empathy for students trying to balance family, young children, a job and being a student.”
If ever there were a degree awarded for life experience, Jodi Conaty certainly would have one. The mother of five rose to vice president of sales at Paige Electric in Union without ever having stepped foot into a college classroom.
A 1988 graduate of Elizabeth High School, she worked for the wire and cable manufacturer for 25 years, starting as a sales representative and progressing her way up to partner in 1998. She retired in 2014 when she and her husband adopted her sister’s biological daughters as toddlers because her sister struggled with addiction and could no longer care for them.
In 2008, Conaty began working with Dayspring Ministries, an organization that travels to Haiti for missionary trips. Volunteers deliver much needed supplies such as medicine, food and clothing to churches and schools. She still travels with the group several times a year.
A busy mom, Conaty now cares for her two adopted children plus three of her own, ranging from 4 to 21 years old. When it became necessary for her to return to the workforce to generate additional income for her family, heading to County of College (CCM) made the most sense. Deciding what to major in, however, wasn’t as clear a choice for her.
“I considered business, but felt that it was already something I was successful with. I didn’t want to question what I was learning or feel that I wasn’t challenged enough.”
So, Conaty enrolled as a Biology major. She’s considering a second career in nursing, as a physician’s assistant or might even decide to go pre-med. But for now, the associate degree route is a perfect fit.
“I’ve always had a calling for nurturing and caring for people. And I hope that I can transfer what I learn at CCM into my ministry and provide income for my family at the same time,” she says.
With classes as small as 15-20 students, CCM professors are able to make connections on a personal level. For example, Conaty shares that in one class an exercise in introducing themselves turned into a discussion and lesson in itself.
“While the expectations and requirements are clear, faculty express compassion and empathy for students trying to balance family, young children, a job and being a student,” she says.