Berkeley Today Stories
Community Activist Serves as Student Speaker during 2015 Commencement Ceremony
Nicole Singletary, a community activist and resident of Newark, NJ, served as the student speaker for the Berkeley College Class of 2015 during the Commencement ceremony on April 24, 2015. Ms. Singletary delivered her speech at the Prudential Center, where more than 2,300 aspiring professionals were awarded degrees and certificates from Berkeley College.
In her Commencement remarks, Ms. Singletary discussed her decision to return to school after facing unemployment and her determination to improve lives in her hometown of Newark. In 2012, she founded I.T.V. It Takes a Village, Inc., a community-based nonprofit that seeks to reintegrate non-violent offenders positively into society as well as to boost self-sustainability and economic development in Newark neighborhoods.
“I’ve always been conscious of my surroundings growing up in the Central Ward of Newark,” she told the graduates. “This is where I received the emotional intelligence and resiliency to combat losing my job, and so I looked at the societal issues impacting my community and many other inner cities in America. The problems of society now rest on our shoulders. We need to find sustainable solutions for a better tomorrow.”
Ms. Singletary was exposed to grassroots activism by her parents at an early age and has partnered with community, government, and educational groups throughout the city in her endeavors. In 2014, these efforts included everything from farming locally grown produce in vacant city lots to educating residents on national disaster preparedness.
Bessie Walker, Senior Aide to Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and former Newark Councilwoman, said she has worked with Ms. Singletary, who she affectionately calls “Nikki,” many times.
“I am so proud of Nikki, who stepped out on faith and started her own nonprofit to give back to the residents of this city,” Ms. Walker said. “She is a bright example to young people that if you want, you can achieve your dreams and really make a difference in your community.”
Ms. Singletary received a B.S. in Management – Entrepreneurship from Berkeley College in June 2014. She was a member of the Sigma Beta Delta and Alpha Sigma Lambda national honor societies, was active in the Student Government Association, and was been named to the Berkeley College President’s List, which recognizes students who achieve a grade point average of 4.00.
Nicole Singletary, a community activist and resident of Newark, NJ (right), works with fellow Berkeley College volunteers in the Ujimaa Garden, one of her community initiatives on Morris Avenue in Newark, NJ.