“The work is more hands on and the professors at CCM provide more detail and better explanations than what you find at larger schools.”
A lifetime of experience has paved the way for Kathleen Jones’ new career in social work, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. While there have been a series of starts and stops, rather than deterring her the challenges and obstacles have made her goals clearer.
Jones came to County College of Morris (CCM) for the first time in 1997, after graduating from Madison High School. Soon after, her first son was born and she stopped taking classes. In 2002 she enrolled for the second time, but wasn’t able to stick to it.
After having two more children and going through a difficult divorce, she decided it was time to get her life back together so she’d be able to provide for her children.
She tried taking office and medical billing courses at Gibbs College, but that didn’t work for her. “I just wasn’t a school person,” she says.
She enrolled at Rutgers-Newark in 2013, where she felt she’d leave her options open, but found that the required math courses were a constant struggle for her. She tried on campus tutoring programs but didn’t feel she was given personalized or consistent help.
Then she decided to give CCM another try. She says by utilizing CCM’s Tutoring Center and online tutoring options, she finally conquered the math classes that had been holding her back. At CCM, she also has benefited from the smaller class sizes and a faculty specifically focused on teaching.
“The work is more hands on and the professors at CCM provide more detail and better explanations than what you find at larger schools,” she says.
One particular social work professor made a lasting impression, with what Jones describes as a caring approach. “You could tell she enjoys teaching and truly wants to share her knowledge.”
Entering CCM for the third time, Jones knew social work was her passion. Raising kids, including a high-functioning autistic son, and suffering the loss of her dad and sister in 2017, she personally has experienced the impact that social work can have. She’s been able to share those experiences in class, helping others in the process.
She’s currently working as a nursing assistant at St. Clare’s Hospital and has previously volunteered as a crisis counselor in Union County. She also has worked at Camp Clover, a summer camp for kids going through loss. She even became an ordained minister. Her family encouraged her along the way, she says.
When she completes her associate degree, she hopes to transfer back to Rutgers for her bachelor’s. But she says she’ll still be a fixture at CCM, since she plans to take several Rutgers courses that are offered on campus.
And she’ll have company. Jones is proud to say that her oldest son is enrolled in the Digital Media program at CCM.
“I love the options and flexibility a degree in social work will provide,” she says. “I want to help children and their families, as well as couples.”