Berkeley Today Stories

Berkeley College Lisa Wolfe

First-Generation College Student Excels in the Classroom



Berkeley College Lisa Wolfe


The Dover campus of Berkeley College has been consolidated into the Woodland Park, NJ campus. Additional New Jersey campuses are located in Newark, Paramus, and Woodbridge. Programs are also offered at the New York City, Brooklyn, and White Plains, NY campuses, as well as Berkeley College Online®.

Whether studying in the classroom or working in the Office of Student Development and Campus Life, for Lisa Wolfe spending time at Berkeley College in Dover is like home away from home. A first-generation college student, Ms. Wolfe enrolled in the A.A.S. in Surgical Technology program in the summer of 2014 and is on track to graduate in December 2015.

Finances were a concern when Ms. Wolfe, a single mom with a 14-year-old son, began researching colleges. She had recently gone through a divorce, had sole custody of her son, and was unemployed.

“Some of my tuition was paid through student loans and Berkeley College made up the difference through grants and scholarships,” said Ms. Wolfe, who has a 4.00 grade point average and is on the Berkeley College President’s List.

Ms. Wolfe said that a welcoming and supportive environment makes Berkeley College a great choice for first-generation college students. She has learned time management skills through the Academic Support Center, has easy access to her instructors and academic advisors, and turns to a personal counselor at the College when she feels stressed.

“Sometimes I just need five minutes to decompress,” Ms. Wolfe said. “I always come out of the counselor’s office thinking that things are not as bad as I thought and that I can do this.”

It was the lack of support that caused Ms. Wolfe to drop out of a large college after enrolling right out of high school.

“Education wasn’t a priority for my parents so I didn’t have their support,” Ms. Wolfe said. “I returned to college because I wanted my son to understand the importance of a higher education.”

Ms. Wolfe decided to pursue a career in healthcare after learning firsthand the impact caring professionals can have on patients.

“I had breast cancer 10 years ago, and I had wonderful people who took care of me through every step of the process,” Ms. Wolfe said. “I knew then that I wanted one day to be part of that support system and to help others the way I had been helped.”