MAJOR: Information Techoolgy

HOMETOWN: Towaco

Pursuing a Second Associate Degree to Enhance Career Opportunities

“There’s no comparison when it comes to the quality education you receive at CCM.”

young man in blue shirt holding a coffee cup in front of a waterfallNicholas Cruz knows higher education quite well. He earned his associate in business administration from County College of Morris (CCM), took business classes at Rutgers, received his bachelor’s in professional sales from William Paterson, and now is working on a master’s in project management from Montclair, as he also is pursing another associate degree at CCM. The school that stands out, he says, is CCM, which is why he decided to earn another associate degree to provide him the IT experience he desires.

“There’s no comparison when it comes to the quality education you receive at CCM,” says Cruz. “The teachers at CCM go the extra mile for their students. In a university class with a 100 students, you are not going to get to know your professor. At CCM, the professors give you personal time and attention to make sure you are progressing toward your goals.”

Cruz’s goal is to work in project management in the field of IT. It’s a goal he developed while working at UPS as a solutions engagement supervisor where he found himself managing several IT projects, work he enjoyed.

To test the waters, he took a computer science class at CCM. Then he talked to Professor Colleen Bamford, chair of the Information Technologies department, who helped him develop an action plan. She advised him to study networking and assured him he would be able to find scholarship money and an internship to help support him once he left UPS to further his education.

“I did get scholarships. I did get internships,” he says, noting that along with strong academic programs CCM has exceptional student support services. The first internship was with CCM’s Information Systems department where he developed a software inventory management system.

“Here I am studying project management and I was given the opportunity to put everything I was learning in class into effect,” he says.

The second internship, which he found through a CCM job fair, was with an IT company that has since offered him a full-time job when he graduates.

“I’ve found so many great job opportunities with the help of CCM,” says Cruz.

Cruz initially attended CCM based on the good experiences his mother and sister had at the college. His mother earned her nursing degree and his sister an associate in business administration from CCM. Affordability also was a factor.

I’m paying for college myself and I did not want to finish with crushing debt,” he explains.

“I had such a good experience at CCM when I got my first degree, so when I decided I was going to start back up I knew I should start again at CCM.”

His advice to other students is to take advantage of all that CCM has to offer. During his initial time at the college, he served on the Student Government Association, where he was vice president. The experience, he says, was transformative.

“I found being around people who were active on campus made me a more serious student,” says Cruz. “It allowed me to surround myself with the right type of student – students who are serious about their education and where they are heading.”