What factors led you to decide to attend Hudson County Community College?
I decided to attend HCCC because my brother, Anil Parekh (Class of 2009) was attending as well when I entered my first year of college in 2009 at HCCC. I made a decision to attend as he liked the College and I was offered a scholarship at my high school (William L. Dickinson High School). The scholarship was a motive and a blessing to attend along with the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program that became my support system while attending HCCC. The College provided with all the support and tools I needed in order to achieve my goal, which was to lead me to my bachelor's degree in the field of Psychology.
What is your favorite memory of the College, in or out of the classroom?
A few of my favorite memories at HCCC were with my EOF Program/family, where during the summer program we had a scavenger hunt to find each building, was so when we began classes we would know where to go. I also have a great memory of being the Secretary for the Culture Plus Club! I worked in the Community Education department as a work-study and then hired as part-time. Hope [Guirantes, my supervisor,] taught me everything I know and was a big support while I was studying. I also have great memories of all the guards and many who are still there, such as Tonya and Samuel. Whenever I entered various buildings, they always made me feel welcome.
How did you become interested in psychology?
In high school, I had decided I wanted to become a therapist or work in the field of counseling under the area of psychology. I have always had a passion to study the mind and counseling individuals to aid them in any issues they face, depending on the area of counseling they would seek.
How did your time at HCCC prepare you for your career/ life now?
My time at HCCC prevailed and provided the stepping stones to attain my Bachelor's Degree in Arts in a major in Psychology and minor in Sociology after I transferred from HCCC to New Jersey City University. HCCC also provided me with a forever family – the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program – who were another main support of mine while studying and excelling to prepare for my career. The diversity at HCCC prepared me for my career and life due to that as the Master's in Social Work (Social Worker); I am culturally competent and culturally aware which is key in the NASW Code of Ethics to be able to serve clients in the best way.
What has been the most memorable project/ case you have worked on?
The most memorable case I worked on was during my clinical field internship placement at my agency in the Unaccompanied Minors Long-Term Foster Care program between 2017 and 2018 as a recent graduate from Rutgers University Intensive Weekend program; I took the courses on the HCCC campus, with my Master's in Social Work. My last client, who is from Ghana and left due to being threatened with being killed. It took him one year to reach the United States. My client had no sponsors at the time, which qualified him as a UC Long-Term Minor. Minors such as these are placed in a foster boarding home until permanency is achieved. He was an amazing client and to work with him clinically as his therapist, and to see him obtain asylum finally by when I finished my last field practicum for my master's degree was such a beautiful experience.
Who are your biggest inspirations that have impacted your work in some way?
My biggest inspirations are my mentors/professors along the way. My field supervisor, Melinda Jimenez at my agency, has been a huge inspiration. It was such an excellent experience to work with her in my last year and half of field practicum. Another inspiration of mine is Dr. Fiona Conway at Rutgers University who was my Research II professor during my program in the Intensive Weekend program. I am also my own inspiration, I never cease to amaze myself every day as I grow on all levels - mentally, physically, emotionally and professionally.
What advice would you give to recent HCCC graduates?
Congratulations! If you didn't think you'd make it this far, you proved to yourself that you can do it! Stay hopeful, present in each and every moment and have faith whether spiritually and/or in yourselves. Life is not easy; pace yourselves. There will be hurdles, but there will also be many blessings; keep pushing ahead.
What advice do you have for those students who are just starting their college careers?
Don’t give up. Establish and connect with your networks, even in the waiting area of an interview with others. Save your money and be wise as to how you spend it; there will be moves or risks you may need to take and need to support those decisions. Don’t settle for anything, and always ask questions. Rejection is part of everyone’s journey, which will lead us to the door that is meant for us.